What does a hotel owe me for construction noise?

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By Christopher Elliott

All Robin Rosner wanted was a little peace and quiet when she checked into the Sheraton Centre in Toronto recently.

All she got was chaos and noise — lots of noise.

“I awoke to find my message light blinking about 3 a.m. and learned that they would be power-washing the exterior of the building starting the next day,” she says. “They were suggesting people keep their blinds closed for privacy.”

And that wasn’t all.

Pre-stay notifications fall short

“They also pointed out some construction work on one of the main streets might result in a detour,” she says. But the hotel failed to tell her that its garden wasn’t open, even though it was the middle of the summer, which was a problem for Rosner, because she was traveling with her dog.

“I enjoyed the garden and I had planned to spend time in it with my canine, who uses the garden. Of course, I clean up after her,” she says.

Closed garden. Street construction. Power-washing. Had Rosner known about all of these, would she have booked a room at the Sheraton?

No, she says.

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But that’s the thing: the hotel didn’t tell her about it until she had checked in.

Is that right?

Well, Sheraton specifically guarantees a “peaceful, relaxing vacation” on its site, so it’s reasonable to assume you would actually get something resembling peace and quiet. In the past, the hotel would send her a note about a week before she checked in, reminding her that her room is nonrefundable and giving her a heads-up on any events at her hotel, including construction.

By the way, Rosner doesn’t expect a noise-free stay at Sheraton.

“I understand these tasks must be done,” she says. “But for leisure travelers, I just think we deserve to be informed in advance. Maybe if folks knew, they’d cancel. But that’s what I’m writing to ask you about. What’s fair to expect?”

“Constructive” resolution

I asked Sheraton to weigh in on this question. A representative emailed me back and admitted Rosner’s “disappointment is understandable.” I’m hopeful they will fix this for her, but I haven’t officially asked it to intervene. (Here’s our guide to resolving your consumer problem.)

I agree with Rosner that she should have been notified of the construction and facilities closure in advance — at the very least, in time for her to cancel her reservation. But that’s easier said than done. A hotel may not know about its facilities closure until the day it happens. In that case, a real-time resolution, like a voucher or an upgrade, might do the trick. (Related: What to do about hotel renovation hassles.)

Construction and noise problems rank as one of the top ten hotel complaints. The last reader query I wrote about, which involved a Hotwire hotel, was only partially resolved, and only after the stay. Ideally, these issues should be fixed before they become an issue for guests.

My advocacy team and I can push Sheraton to consider helping Rosner. But should I? Or is this just a lesson learned about staying in hotels in the big city?

Update: (2 p.m.) Just received a voice mail from Sheraton. This case has been resolved and Rosner is “very happy” according to a representative. I will try to get details.

Should I mediate Robin Rosner's case?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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