New Hawaii Tourism: Conservation/Use Fees, Reservations, Limits, Education

Next Big Tourist Problem: Hawaii Hotels And Filthy Rooms

Island-bound tourists are about to return in bulk as Hawaii re-welcomes visitors. A new problem has arisen, however, related to all-important Hawaii hotels. We’ve come to largely take hotels and the services they provide for granted, at least until now.

This first came to our attention from the Facebook post by the Hawaii hotel workers’ union. They said that Hawaii hotels are cutting back drastically on services, first and foremost, daily room cleaning, to slash costs. Yikes. As Hawaii hotels decide to skip daily room cleaning, workers remain unemployed or on call. A housekeeper at Hilton Hawaii Village said in an interview that she was never brought back to work full-time since she was furloughed in March of last year.

Hotels counter by proferring that many guests no longer want daily housekeeping following COVID. Whether that’s true or not, it is certain that the change has afforded hotels substantial cost savings, which properties now expect could be permanent.

Hilton Hawaiian Village said, “Housekeeping Services: Customize Your Clean. For your comfort, we want your stay to be as undisturbed as possible, so we will only provide housekeeping upon request. To schedule your guest room cleaning please dial ext 44 or text us at (number hidden) the day prior.”

The hotel workers’ union says that “daily hotel room cleaning means a happier and healthier Hawaii” and that rarely cleaned and thus very dirty rooms aren’t sustainable. They have a point.

Workers at Hilton Hawaiian Village, including housekeepers and others, have passed out leaflets to guests asking them to call to request that their hotel rooms be cleaned daily.

The union said, “Only a few housekeepers are being called back to work because many hotels are not providing daily room cleaning.” They noted that Hawaii hotels are taking advantage of reduced labor costs by not providing essential daily room cleaning. The union quoted a HospitalityNet study on hotel cleanliness which indicated “79% of respondents are most concerned about their room’s cleaning and sanitation, while 91% are more likely to stay at a hotel that helps their employees who lost their jobs during the pandemic.” Earlier this year, another American Hotel & Lodging Association survey ranked enhanced cleaning, followed only cost, in terms of guest priorities.

Filthy Hawaii hotel rooms.

Housekeepers who are employed complain that the workload has become unbearable because of rarely cleaned, filthy rooms. Some Hawaii hotels, however, have restored daily room cleaning services, including the Sheraton Maui and The Kahala Hotel, for example.

Guests are being caught off-guard.

When staying in a Hawaii hotel, we certainly had come to expecxt daily room cleaning. We know not to anticipate that in a vacation rental, but this is totally different. It looks like we aren’t alone. Many guests are apparently being caught off-guard when hotels fail to provide daily room maintenance.

Do you want daily housekeeping when you stay at Hawaii hotels? Have you been impacted yet by this cutback?

Beat of Hawaii’s take.

What we are witnessing is a decline in Hawaii tourism’s product quality, and this is but one example. It is essential that the appeal of Hawaii vacations not be reduced, as it will impede a healthy environment for tourism to succeed. We need industry stakeholders to help assure that Hawaii travel remains attractive to our visitors.

Reducing housekeeping services and not resuming other services like full restaurant opening, lounges and other amenities makes it hard to rebuild our Hawaii travel industry and make Hawaii travel exceptional once again.

We know that hospitality stakeholders have suffered alongside workers. Now that Hawaii travel is resuming in earnest, we encourage Hawaii hotels to both begin room maintenance without request, and to offer other services that were reduced.

Hawaii hotel service levels were already declining before COVID, so it is hard to attribute all of what has happened to the pandemic and related shutdown. The reasons are unclear but likely include management of spiraling costs and optimizing hotel earnings.

Return the romance of Hawaii to our hotels and throughout the industry. Be sure we continue to give Hawaii visitors every reason to want to return to Hawaii again and again.


81 thoughts on “Next Big Tourist Problem: Hawaii Hotels And Filthy Rooms”

  1. Most accommodation in Hawaii including hotels look like the furnishings have been sourced from a 1970’s garage sale. Bath tubs with shower curtains…ick! Who in their right mind would take a bath in a hotel, Airbnb or VRBO bath tub? The whole state looks retro and not in a good way.
    Call me snobbish but when I go on vacation I don’t wish to be treated as a resource and subjected to sub par accommodation I wouldn’t put up with at home or anywhere else.
    Paying more accommodation in Hawaii appears to provide the same bad taste but more of it.

  2. Aloha and thank you for a quick reply.
    As regards my trip. I am booked to arrive in Hawai’i early January (4th.£ However, all this is made more complicated by the fact that to get full value for my Weston points, I have to know my final arrangements 60 days prior to departure and that falls next week!
    Nothing is ever easy, eh?
    Mahalo for your continued help

    1. Hi Michael.

      We sure hope it all goes smoothly and that the next thing we hear is that you are having a great time in Hawaii. Perhaps we’ll meet you on a future HA HNL-LHR flight.


  3. Aloha Rob.& Jeff. Can you help?
    With U.S. opening up to international visitors in early November, those fully vaccinated are to be welcomed. A lateral flow (negative) test 3 days prior to departure is required. Fine so far. I hope to overnight in Los Angeles before onward travel to the Islands (Kaua’i).
    Question: As I am vaccinated (Pfizer) in Northern Ireland is that enough to travel to Hawai’i? Is the Hawai’i Government making new ‘trusted partners’? Will a new PCR test be required at Lax?

    1. Hi Michael.

      Valid questions. We are waiting to hear the answers from the state of Hawaii. It should not be much longer. When are you planning to travel?


      1. I researched this with the state as in the same situation. The State is going to fall into line with Federal requirements. The Governor will make an announcement likely near the date in November when Hawai’i welcomes visitors again. Which is fair as they are still dotting the I’s and Crossing the T’s in Washington. I am flying through DFW so I have a back up plan of doing a while you wait test at the airport if it falls through. My advice would be to have a plan B as well.

  4. I travel a lot for work, 100+ nights a year. The industry as a whole has moved to this, not just Hawaii. If asked I have not yet been denied anywhere that they would not clean the room daily is asked. Most places give you that option when checking in. If they don’t ask the question!!

  5. I travel frequently for business and pleasure and prefer NOT to have daily housekeeping, but I also know I’m in the minority. I’ve always hung the Do Not Disturb sign up and only take it down every three or four days. I don’t need a fresh towel every day and rarely drink the sludge they provide for coffee makers. If I run low on supplies and am not ready for a total stranger or two enter my room I know how and where to get it. My wife OTOH prefers daily or at least every other day.

  6. Just returned from a week on Maui. Our room was never cleaned which also meant no trash removal either. We were not told where to put our trash and often took it to the lobby trash cans, which were often packed to capacity. Prices, however, remain high at the resorts.

    1. It’s because the Hotels are hiring other cleaning companies that hire anyone to clean. They are not trained Hotels workers.

  7. No you room does not need to be cleaned daily. Some guest leave tips daily or at the end of their stay which can lower future income. Housekeeping work is very hard, probably the hardest in a hotel. Housekeeping should be the highest paid n9n-executivws in the hotel next to maybe maintenance. At minimum housekeepers should make between $18/hr to $26/hr depending on cost of living. The argument that the room is more filthy depends on the guest, but you are vacuuming and wiping same areas.

  8. I prefer not to have a daily service. My stays are generally 2days. As a vacation rental owner, I direct my crew to keep it up. Clean a clean room. Never too much .

  9. We recently returned from Hawaii and we’re totally amazed at the lack of room service. We asked for room service but they told us it have to be after seven day visit. We paid for a high dollar room, Ocean view beach front room in Maui, and got no room cleaning service. We will not be returning until the situation changes anywhere.

  10. I spent a week in Hawaii for my daughter birthday. I didn’t know they didn’t clean. The first room had bedbugs. They moved me to another room and the refrigerator was leaking water. The tv didn’t work. I complained constantly. The only thing they said paying almost 900.00 they could put back 25.00. the charge resort fee and it’s wasn’t a resort. The hotel was the worst part of the trip.

  11. Being a housekeeper at hotels is one of the most thankless jobs there is. You are the least paid
    You get some disgusting things. Your tips are taken by the head/assistant head housekeepers or ‘room strippers. Please don’t leave your tips in easy sight of dirty head housekeepers. Now they’re adding all these ‘cleaning fee’s. That’s so the hotel owner can absorb what might have been a tip.

  12. Great article. Rooms are dirty and daily rates are up. We had to call for towels and coffee and toilet paper and fir our garbage to bed picked up. If I’m going to bed the housekeeper… me.

  13. Aloha BOH Bro’s

    Just a heads up for folks staying in condo’s there’s been a rash of post cleaning fee’s being charged after your stay. The claim is that after your stay when house cleaning comes in to clean they send photos of area’s that were left dirty. Such as tracked in sand and staining of furniture. Multiple posts on other Hawaiian travel sites warn of this behavior. Do yourself a favor and take photos of the condo upon your exit.

  14. We’ve been visiting Hawaii every year since 1995. However we have delayed our 2021 trip until next year because of the hotels not 100% operational. Not having daily room service is unacceptable and we would not stay at a hotel that doesn’t offer it without a special request by us.

  15. Speaking of hotels housekeeping service (or not), check this out: For 20 years I was a traveling field rep throughout Southern CA. In one city in my territory I overnighted regularly at a nice midrange Marriott hotel. Across the parking lot is a Motel 6. Once Covid-19 hit, the Marriott discontinued all housekeeping service while full service housekeeping service continued as per usual at the Motel 6. Go figure!

    1. I’m not surprised about that and I’m feeling if the high end hotels can’t or won’t return to the ore COVID levels of service that people pay for when staying there, Motel 6 and others like them that do provide good service will be the recipients of more customers and good reviews.
      It’s ridiculous that this is even a conversation. Cleanliness is not an option when staying in a hotel. It should be an expectation on both the hotel management side and the customer side. Especially since COVID !

      1. If the room is clean when you arrive who is responsible for the cleanliness during your stay? I get it you paid for the room you want the service, but in reality have you thought about how hard cleaning a room is daily when a house keeper is expected to clean 16 to 18 rooms a day. It is the hardest job in the hotel and they get paid minimum wage. I tip daily $3 to $5 sometimes more if the housekeeper is personable. We are to entitled.

  16. Hawaii unions have only their political leaders to blame for the problems facing workers. Shutting down the state for tourists was only the beginning of serious problems.

    1. There is more to shutting down Hawaii from tourism. Hawaii is and Alaska are the most isolated states. Hawaii does not have the medical resources to handle a COVID surge. I know the is because I consult healthcare for Queens Medical Center. Hawaii does not have the ICU beds nor the staff to handle that type of pandemic. It is not as simple as you put it. If you bring in locum doctors or travel nurses hospital budgets would be wiped out with full ICU beds alone.

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