A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question regarding an epidemic with closed executive lounges at Hilton properties in North America.
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Here’s the email from the reader:
Can I bring to your attention a thread I’ve seen on FT https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/hilton-hilton-honors/2019839-exec-lounge-replaced-one-drink-voucher.html
Given your contacts with Hilton could you find out if its true that within EMEA a hotel can close its lounge and replace it with a voucher for ONE drink and one snack? As the OP writes, closing lounges for reasons like refurbishment is not new, but that was always replaced with another room or service at the bar. The standard in Europe has always been higher and no comparison can be drawn between Europe and the US in terms of lounges!
It seems quite a big story that Hilton would be allowing hotels to act this way and if true, not forcing them to declare on their websites their lounges are closed and removing lounges from the description on room types like suites and exec.
Here’s a statement that we received from the Hilton:
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some properties’ services and amenities such as Executive Lounges may be modified or suspended. In instances where the Executive Lounge is suspended, a hotel should provide eligible guests one breakfast and one evening voucher per person, per night of their reservation in which the lounge is closed.
As stated on hotel websites, guests should contact a hotel prior to their stay to confirm available services as well as to receive the latest on local rules or restrictions that may be in place. As it has always been, the safety and security of our guests and team members remains our highest priority. As Hilton continues to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, visit Hilton.com/coronavirus for the latest updates on reservations, member benefits and more.
The real issue is why hotels cannot communicate on their Hilton pages what services may have been affected by Covid-19 related cost-cutting – not the virus itself, including the closing of executive/club lounges. This doesn’t only affect Hilton, but hotels belonging to other chains as well.
Some may prefer a beverage and appetizer voucher for a bar, but I don’t. I tend to prefer a lounge environment that usually allows me to work too. Also, hotels count that you continue sitting at the bar, ordering drinks and food (revenue opportunity for the hotel).
There have been fewer and fewer executive lounges open at many full-service hotels in North America, as many owners see them as cost centers and perhaps lowering possible F&B spend.
I just stayed a week ago at a Hilton hotel in Japan that had its lounge closed. They had, however, arranged complimentary beverages at the bar for a couple of hours, including quite an extensive buffet of snacks. I will try to prepare a piece tomorrow about my lounge experiences over the past four months.