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Travel regulations – Poolside sun loungers that are constantly reserved could constitute defective performance

Recently, the Hanover District Court had to rule on the consequences of a dispute at a hotel pool. The subject of the dispute was the poolside sun loungers that were reserved for hours on end but never used. The court had to decide if and when such ‘marking behaviour’ by certain holidaymakers constitutes defective performance that can trigger corresponding claims.

In the case that was decided by the Hanover District Court, in its ruling of 20.12.2023 (case reference: 553 C 5141/23), a man (M) had booked a package holiday to Rhodes, for himself and his family, worth more than €5,000. The hotel had several swimming pools and around 500 poolside sun loungers. Moreover, rules of behaviour had been laid down according to which guests were not allowed to reserve the sun loungers for more than 30 minutes without using them. However, only a few guests observed this requirement. M therefore complained several times about the behaviour to the hotel management who did not however do anything about the breaches of the rules of behaviour. Ultimately, M demanded a refund of a portion of the price of the holiday in the amount of almost €800. The tour operator disagreed with the opinion that this constituted defective performance.

The District Court awarded the holidaymaker M compensation in the amount of €322.77. In the view of the Hanover District Court, a package holiday would be unsatisfactory if the hotelier in a hotel complex either makes too few poolside sun loungers available, or does not intervene when other guests reserve these, by means of a towel, for longer periods without actually using them. Admittedly, a tour operator or a hotelier acting on its behalf are not obliged to make a sun lounger available to every hotel guest. Nevertheless, the number of sun loungers should be in reasonable proportion to the hotel occupancy and thus the number of hotel guests. However, if there are not enough sun loungers so that, as in this case, they effectively cannot be used by some holidaymakers because of the behaviour of others then the hotelier or the tour operator would be obliged to intervene.

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