‘I don’t understand’: families devastated Niagara Falls hotel cancels reservations made a year ago for solar eclipse

After having the foresight to reserve their hotel rooms in Niagara Falls more than a year in advance, several families planning to enjoy the solar eclipse next month were surprised to discover that their reservations had been cancelled.

“We assume they canceled a bunch of lower-cost reservations and changed them to make more money; whether that’s true or not, they’re not telling us,” Katherine Wilson told CTV News Toronto on Sunday.

Wilson’s family booked three rooms at the Wyndham Garden Niagara Falls Fallsview last April for $100 a night. She had planned to attend the April 8 celestial spectacle as part of her children’s and her nephew’s birthday celebration.

But on March 16, the hotel canceled that reservation.

“Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen extension in the length of stay of a large group currently staying at our hotel, we are facing limitations on room availability. Unfortunately, this means we must cancel your reservation,” the hotel wrote in an email to Wilson.

Wyndham’s front office manager told CTV News Toronto that a large internal group extended their stay, resulting in all reservations being cancelled. They refused to explain why the current reservation had priority.

“The group has carried out a complete inventory of the hotel rooms. It is very unfortunate that we have not been able to prioritize our individual bookings this time,” Ankur Ahuja, front desk manager of the hotel, said on Saturday.

Wilson said the news devastated his family. “We feel like our family trip is being canceled because they just want to make more money,” he said. “We feel like we had the foresight to book well in advance for the eclipse and we shouldn’t be punished for that.”

solar eclipseSince being considered one of the best places in the world to watch the next solar eclipse, Niagara Falls has seen hotel prices skyrocket. The limited rooms still available are priced at around $1,000 per night, with some going up to $3,000.

Chelsea Bartja, who planned to travel with her husband from London to Niagara Falls to see the eclipse, said the momentous spectacle was what prompted her to book a room well in advance.

“The only reason I booked over a year ago was because I knew that if I waited to book, the prices would skyrocket,” Bartja said.

Like Wilson, he booked a room at Wyndham Garden Niagara Falls Fallsview a year ago for about $100 a night. On March 12, they canceled his reservation.

“I don’t understand why you cancel my reservation. It just feels like the company is trying to make a profit,” she said.

niagara solar eclipse

On Tripadvisor, several reviews posted last week highlight the same problem. One says: “The hotel is canceling reservations made a year ago so they can book groups for the eclipse at exorbitant prices… I suggest you do the right thing and honor your existing reservations.” Richard H wrote on March 20.

Initially, Bartja said she was told the hotel couldn’t find a room to relocate her. But a day later, after CTV News Toronto contacted Wyndham, a room became available at no additional cost. On Saturday, Wilson said he also received a call from the hotel telling him they were trying to find his rooms in the area and if not, they would refund his money.

Still, Wilson said it’s the principle that bothers him. “I feel like you shouldn’t be able to treat people that way.”

What are your rights?

Joel Rochon, founding partner of Rochon Genova LLP, said a consumer in this situation could pursue various avenues of recourse, including small claims court or, in larger-scale situations linked by common elements, a class-action proceeding for breach of contract. the Consumer Protection Law. Act.

“The conduct you describe would likely fall into deceptive conduct,” Rochon said. “It is very frowned upon by the courts.”

However, Consumer Council of Canada executive director Ken Whitehurst believes the matter is unlikely to go to court due to the relatively low dollar amount of the hotel bill. Often the businessman relies on it, he added.

Whitehall calls these types of agreements “adhesion contracts.” They often run for pages, contain “weasel language” and are often written by only one party, he said.

He said many of Ontario’s consumer protection laws are “business-friendly,” a continuing trend that leaves consumers vulnerable.

“Whether that’s fair or not is another question.”

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