Help! Choice Hotels canceled our reservation to see the eclipse

More than a year in advance, Nancy Barnby secures her lodging inside the direct path of the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse viewing area in Oregon. Now she needs our help because that hotel has changed hands and her reservation has been summarily discarded by the new owner. With just weeks left before the eclipse, is there any way to save her celestial experience?

Question: Since 2014, My husband and I have been planning our road trip to see the total eclipse of the sun. Last year we booked two nights (August 19 and 20, 2017) in Albany, Oregon, because of its location within the path of the best viewing for the eclipse. We confirmed our room at La Quinta for $120 per night.

I just discovered that this hotel was sold to Choice Hotels in December. The new owners decided not to keep any of the prior reservations — but also didn’t inform us. Now it’s too late to find alternative reservations since every hotel for miles around is solidly booked during that three-day window.

I contacted the Choice executives who I found listed on your website and received a canned, generic response which did not in any way address my complaints.

I believe it was unconscionable for the new owners of the motel to ignore previous reservations. We can’t make a two-week trip with no place to stay for those two nights. We have looked forward to this trip for years and we even bought special glasses to view the eclipse.

I merely want Choice Hotels to find us a room for the nights we had reserved. The company owns 10 motel properties in the immediate region. This is not a matter of money but a ruined, long-planned road trip — the highlight being the eclipse. I am very upset with Choice Hotels. Can you help? — Nancy Barnby, Menlo Park, Calif.

Answer: How disappointing for a wrench to be thrown into your carefully laid plans at this late date.

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You had done your homework about this rare solar event in which the moon will completely block the sun. You had carefully studied all the information available about the Solar Eclipse 2017 and made sure to book a hotel that was within the “path of totality” — the area that would provide you the best possible chance to see the full eclipse.

And when you booked your hotel a year in advance, you felt confident that this part of your trip was firm. It wasn’t until recently, when you attempted to reconfirm, that you discovered you no longer had a reservation.

The manager of the hotel in question, which is now an Econo Lodge, offered to put you on a waitlist — with everyone else who no longer had a reservation.

Obviously, this did not seem like a suitable plan on which to rest your hopes. So you contacted us.

I contacted Choice Hotels and, initially, received a somewhat canned response of my own. This representative told me that they were aware of your situation and that they were working directly with you.

You reported though that the only “help” you had received was a list of their branded hotels that you could check yourself for availability. You were not surprised to find that each one was sold out.

I tried again with Choice Hotels, and this time I reached someone who understood your plight and empathized. She began to make inquiries at various hotels in the area.

Her first offer was generous, but not quite right for you. She offered you a free two-night stay at a hotel about 45 minutes outside of the viewing area and a promise of parking at your preferred hotel during the eclipse.

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You explained that with traffic this could easily lead to missing the eclipse completely and you politely asked if there were any other possibilities closer to your original hotel.

The representative then discovered that there was a hotel available, but their rates were almost as astronomical as the eclipse at $500 to $1,000 per night. This is quite lofty for a hotel that typically runs for $120 to $200 per night. And there was another catch — a three night minimum stay. Yikes!

But this hotel did match your location requirements, and with no better option you began to consider it.

As you were reflecting on your options, your story suddenly took a phenomenal turn. The Choice Hotel representative emailed you with the good news that this new hotel would allow you to stay just the two nights that you wanted.

And the best part? The company proved that it truly was regretful that your original plans had been disrupted. The representative gave you complimentary Choice Points to cover your entire stay at the pricey hotel.

You are completely satisfied with this outcome and I sense that Choice Hotels has made a loyal customer for life.

Enjoy your trip and don’t forget those protective glasses!

Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, consumer advocate, writer and photographer who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. She is Advocacy & Editorial Director at

  • AJPeabody

    Poetic justice! The hotel that tried to price gouge for the eclipse had rooms only because they tried to gouge too much. So they were paid in points rather than money, and karma wins, both good (for the OP and for Choice’s reputation)) and less good (hotel doesn’t get to charge $3000 for a $400 stay).

  • tio2girl

    I’ve heard so many horror stories of hotels canceling reservations once they realize they can charge astronomically higher prices during those days surrounding the eclipse. What I don’t usually hear is a resolution as great as this one! Kudos to Choice Hotels for making this right!

  • Annie M

    This is not right for the hotel to have done this. Perhaps Elliott getting involved made them rethink the bad publicity they would have received if they didn’t fix this.

    It’s unfortunate that the rest of the people who had their reservations canceled don’t get the same resolution.

  • cscasi

    Luck that the hotel allowed use of points for rooms at that period. So many hotels raise their prices for “special” occasions and then do not allow points or certificates to be used during those times. But, I am pretty sure that the hotel managed to sell lots of rooms at the inflated rate for this period as there are thousands of people clamoring for rooms along the route of the eclipse.
    I am glad that Choice Hotels came through for them.

  • deemery

    IANAL. Would a reservation cancelled by the hotel chain be a breach of contract? (Or do they have language in the contract allowing them to cancel for any reason?)

  • Lloyd Johnston

    IANAL either but contracts require consideration on both sides. Perhaps a deposit would make a difference, or maybe not, as the hotel could just refund the deposit. Either way, I’m not happy if I make a reservation in good faith, and for reasons that are not in my sphere of control, and not considered Acts of $DEITY, it gets cancelled, I’m not going to be happy. It’s one thing if the hotel burns to the ground, it’s another if it’s sold.

  • deemery

    When a property is sold, should the successor owner have a legal obligation to honor previous contracts? Should the hotel chain? (It has happened to me, too, where I had a reservation at a hotel under one owner that was cancelled without notification by the subsequent owner.)

  • James

    I’m lucky… I saw the total eclipse on March 7, 1970, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina when I was a child. A few years previous, my parents had given me a telescope, which we used. I still have that telescope — I used if for the annular eclipse in Nevada, 2012, and the transit of Venus. I hope the skies are clear in Wyoming, where I will have it for what I hope is the second total solar eclipse I’ve seen. The $1200/night fee for the room seems exorbitant, but it is worth it.

    Of course, for Americans, there is Monday April 8, 2024 and Saturday August 12, 2045 for future eclipses.

  • redragtopstl

    I’m happy the OP was able to get her problem resolved.

    I just hope she’s not too disappointed in the hotel. Going from LaQuinta to an EconoLodge is a bit of a downgrade, so I hope the new ownership does upgrades and refurbishment before she stays there. (Given a choice — and having stayed in both — I’d take LQ any day.)

  • RightNow9435

    I can relate to that. I stayed at a Motel 6 that had just been a La Quinta very recently and the rooms, wi-fi, grounds, etc were like staying at a La Quinta for Motel 6 prices. Recenty found out that same Motel 6 has now become,quality-of-room wise, pretty much like a Motel 6 and not like a La Quinta anymore.

  • Maria K. Telegdy

    I can’t relate to any of this, because where I’ll be on Aug 19 I won’t be in dark for not even a second. It is a solar eclipse, the moon will be between the sun and Earth for 10-12 minutes? Sorry but if my shuttle to Mars would have been cancelled I’d be mad as a wasp nest, but for a solar eclipse………seen enough already in my lifetime……..

  • Maria K. Telegdy

    This is a worldwide phenomenon, to raise prices on Hotel rooms during a high demand time. I refused to pay the $400/night the hotel in Germany asked me 2 years ago during a conference of some great minds, in Frankfurt, instead I took the train 1 hr. outside of the city, and I got a room at a rate of $60/ night. There’s always a solution….people just have their mind made up, and don’t want to give 1 inch

  • Alan Gore

    This story had a happy ending, but the impulse to gouge when a once-in-a-lifetime event occurs in your totally uninteresting rural area is irresistible. The good thing about solar eclipses is that the stges of an eclipse in each particular area are known years in advance. In this example, totality crosses Oregon just after 9 am, and then proceeds diagonally across the country as indicated here:
    Instead of staying in the path of totality, plan an all-night or early morning drive to it from some distant place where the hotel rates are unaffected, view the eclipse from a picnic spot in the path of totality, and then drive on to another ‘unaffected’ city to stay the night.

  • jsn55

    Lovely story! I hope that Choice gets all kinds of good PR for making the right decision here. This story really illustrates what we do at Elliott … politely and persistently keep asking for justice. We advise people not to say “You ruined my trip” but “We are hoping that you can assist us”. It’s amazing how often that will turn around a disappointing situation.

  • James Dworak

    Perhaps Elliott getting involved? Perhaps? This is only reason otherwise the hotel chain would only have tap dance their way thru.

  • Lee

    I’m glad for such a great outcome but yet again disappointed they only did the right thing when contacted by you. Sigh. I’m glad the poster knew enough to contact you but do feel for all the others who lost their reservations as well.

    What a horrid way to do business and even with this outcome, I would never book a room with this company given how they summarily canceled all those reservations.

  • wilcoxon

    Personally, I would say yes, they should have to honor existing reservations or, at an absolute minimum, notify every single person that they are cancelling the reservations.

  • greg watson

    Gouging ! ………………………………try Las Vegas on New Years Eve………the following 3 nights don’t equal (combined) the price that night…………Too many people pay the price, so hotels can still get away with special event pricing.

  • Tricia K

    I’m impressed. This was not the outcome I was expecting based on the circumstances. I’ve experienced those over inflated prices as well when we went to Chicago to cheer on some friends in the Chicago Marathon. Minneapolis will have the Super Bowl next year. People are already offering to rent out rooms in their homes for a ridiculous amount of money. I guess it’s the American way?

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