Hotels hit pause on day passes
AS families gear up for festive getaways during Christmas and new year, a surprising twist awaits those relying on day passes for hotel experiences. Many hotels are putting a temporary halt on the issuance of day passes, turning the holiday season into a unique challenge.
“We have already discontinued day passes for the rest of the year because of high occupancy. And when I said high occupancy, I mean 100 per cent and over,” revealed Carlington Price, the public relations manager at RIU Hotels & Resorts.
He shed light on the situation, acknowledging the need to prioritise the satisfaction of in-house guests. Price explained to the Jamaica Observer that day passes are not entirely off the table but are contingent on occupancy levels. The challenge becomes evident when hotels experience full occupancy, particularly during peak seasons like Christmas.
Price elaborated: “A lot of times we have small groups that make the hotel highly occupied. People in groups usually stay together. Just imagine one of those groups travelling together and going to the buffet or the bar at once. It will not give us the chance to give the service that we want to give everybody, including our local guests; even for them, it will be an inconvenience,” Price elaborated.
While day passes remain an attractive option for locals and international guests with family members, the practice of temporarily discontinuing them during high-demand periods is becoming a trend. Merricka Dyer Cunningham, sales manager at Grand Palladium, shares similar sentiments on the impact on overall operations, when day passes coincide with high occupancy levels.
“We used to do a lot of day passes, sometimes having a hundred people coming in per day. When you have that, you find that their experience is also impacted, because when you come to this big property, you have 1,800 – 2,000 people here; they’re on their day pass; they can’t find any beach chairs because the guest that is already here takes them up, or the restaurants are full, so it takes away from their experience,” Dyer Cunningham told the Sunday Finance in an interview.
Riu has, however, temporarily discontinued the issuance of day passes since the end of November straight up until the first week of January 2024. While the Grand Palladium has discontinued the issuance of day passes from January this year, and will remain in place until occupancy levels are reduced.
When the Sunday Finance contacted the Holiday Inn Resort in Montego Bay, a popular hotel for family and friends day passes, it confirmed its discontinuation of day passes for Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve, with limited availability for New Year’s Day. Hoteliers are advising potential guests to consider booking in instead and extending their stay for a better chance of securing a spot, as hotels prioritise longer bookings, especially during the winter season.
“It’s a concept most hotels use because people prefer spending holidays at a hotel. From a business perspective, there would be no point in accepting a person who books for one night when we can get that same room booked for three nights,” stated Price in defending the practice.
Despite these challenges, travel agents strongly recommend booking holiday dates, particularly during the winter season, at least 3-4 months in advance.
“This time frame allows you to have a broader selection of hotels and accommodations, as they tend to fill up quickly due to high demand,” advised Onya Tinglin, CEO of Saskia Skyers Adventure, Travel, & Tour. “I recommend keeping an eye out on travel agent pages for last-minute deals. While it’s uncommon during peak travel times, there are instances where individuals may cancel their plans at the last minute, creating openings that become available,” she added, offering a glimmer of hope for spontaneous travellers.
As hotels navigate the intricacies of high occupancy, holiday rush, and the need to balance local and international guests, the message is clear: plan ahead for a seamless and satisfying holiday experience.