Marriott Hawaii Strike: A travelers nightmare unfolding at Sheraton Hotels


Traveling to Hawaii and planning to stay at a Sheraton or Marriott Hotel in Hawaii on the Island of Oahu or Maui? You may want to think again.

Instead of telling guests the truth, Marriott doesn’t mention the situation on their websites, press statements, and communication experts simply are not reachable. Instead, the company just stopped accepting reservations for Hawaii at all their hotels.

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Today is the 6th day more than 2700 Marriott hotel and resort staff workers, and members of Hawaii’s Hospitality and Healthcare Union Local 5 are on strike.

This is causing mass cancellations and means moving to other hotels paying skyrocket rates or diverting to the Caribbean altogether.

Visitors have taken to social media to say their dream Hawaii vacation has turned into a nightmare, with no open restaurants, theme pools closed in their hotels and no housekeeping or laundry service. Meanwhile, hotels are putting out “help wanted” posts, offering bonuses to anyone willing to cross the picket lines.

Living in Hawaii not always means living in paradise for those residing in the 50th state. It often means residents still have to share apartments with room-mates when they are at retirement age, because of astronomic high housing costs. Many people in Hawaii work two jobs, they have to tolerate the highest rates on anything from food to transportation, they drive on some of the worst roads found outside the shining facade of Waikiki, Kaanapali or other resort areas.

At the same time business is exploding in the travel and tourism industry. Hotels are full, airline rates for interisland fares are the highest ever while all ferry service was pushed out by airlines running a monopoly on interisland transportation.

Hotels are sending their record profits to their mainland or overseas headquarters and more and more independent Hawaii businesses are giving room to new shiny stores and developments. Hawaii is losing its soul in many places.

The hotels are giving charity contribution sending their unconsumed food to the homeless population to avoid the camping of homeless on their doorsteps.

In percentage rates, Hawaii has the highest homeless population in the United States. Hotels shift this problem to the state causing for the Governor to call a crisis and emergency. At the same time, hotels are evading taxes the State urgently needs. An example is hotels are openly evading Transient Accommodation taxes on mandatory resort fees charged to hotel guests.

Today non-union workers are working double time, help-wanted ads are placed. Hotels offer bonuses to union workers willing to cross the ticket line.
Hotel workers are the engine behind the record profit numbers generated by companies like Marriott but are often paid minimum wages.


Hawaii’s travel and tourism industry is broken and it’s fragile. Overtourism is an issue and it waits to be seen how a new management of the Hawaii Tourism Authority could handle this. In Hawaii, tourism is everyone’s business, and it’s time to support those brave underpaid workers and members of this industry. For big organizations like Marriott money always talks.

eTN reached out to Marriott without success. Marriotts websites don’t inform or give updates on this emerging situation

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.