Sweet result for TUI. ASA rules in their favour
The website for TUI, www.tui.co.uk, seen on 2 September 2020, featured a holiday listing for the Sensatori Resort Riviera hotel in Cancun. The web page under the “ROOMS” tab stated “Junior suites include a whirlpool bath, a minibar – replenished daily, air-conditioning, and a rainfall shower […] or a premium suite with extras like concierge service and access to a private beach area. Family suites have a sliding partition […]”.
Below was a list of room types accompanied by images of the rooms. Underneath the heading “Premium Area Swim-up Suite with Pool View, Terrace and Whirlpool Bath” text stated, “SLEEPS Varies-min 1, max 3 Located in the Premium section, this suite features private check-in […] personal concierge service […] and beach and pool butler. Also included are a private outdoor whirlpool and underwater chaise lounge in the swim-up pool just steps off the terrace”. Below was a list of bullet-pointed facilities which included “1 Extra Bed In Bedroom” and “Lounge Area”.
The complainant, who believed the accommodation included a living area as a separate room, but found that it consisted of just one room, challenged whether the description of the accommodation as a “suite” was misleading.
TUI UK Ltd t/a TUI said they believed the description of the hotel accommodation was accurate and not misleading in any way, because no mention was made in the ad of a “separate sleeping area”. They said that the reference to a “lounge area” in the context of hotel rooms, simply translated that there would be at least a sofa, chair and/or a coffee table in the room, i.e. an alternative surface to sit on other than the bed. They said the word “suite” was commonly used in the hospitality sector to refer not only to a set of connected rooms, but also to rooms that were larger than standard hotel rooms and had premium features that would not usually be available in a standard room. They said that was the case with the use of the ‘Executive Suite’, which rarely featured a separate sleeping area but would have comforts and resources suited to the business traveller.
TUI also referred to a Honeymoon Suite and to a dictionary definition that referred to a suite as a room designed for a specific purpose. TUI said that the complainant’s room had its own private outdoor whirlpool and underwater chaise longue. They said that in addition the hotel in which the complainant had stayed, all the rooms were described as suites, being legally designated as suites under the rules in that jurisdiction which TUI had no control over. TUI said that accommodation described as a suite may or may not have a separate living room, but if it did, that would be stated in the room description and they provided examples of accommodation described as suites that did and did not have a separate living area.
The complaint was not upheld. The ASA considered that in the context of hotel accommodation there was not one established definition of the word “suite”. The ASA therefore considered that consumers’ understanding of the word would likely depend on the particular type of accommodation and any information which accompanied the word in a room description. While the ASA accepted that the word “suite” could refer to more than one room, (such as a lounge or living room in addition to the bedroom), under one room number, the ASA understood it could also be used to describe a larger than standard room, or one that had special or luxury features that distinguished it from other rooms that were available.
The ASA also considered from common examples of how the word “suite” was used as in ‘honeymoon suite’ or ‘executive suite’, that consumers would not necessarily expect that those types of accommodation would have at least two rooms, but that they would have features or services that other rooms would not. The ASA noted that although the accommodation listed in the ad was named differently, all the rooms were described as suites with the facilities that came with each type of suite being clearly stated. These included a private outdoor whirlpool, a private beach area accessible only from the room itself and a butler or concierge service, which were special amenities. The ASA considered the term “suite” was likely to be understood in that context as a reference to those amenities.
The ASA also noted that the ad contained detailed information about the features of the room such as the number of people who could sleep in it, the number of beds, whether it had a sliding partition wall, as well an image of the room. In that context, the ASA considered the mention of a lounge area was unlikely to be understood to mean that a separate lounge room was included, because the ad contained sufficient detail which made clear of what the accommodation comprised. Because the ASA considered the context of the ad made clear that the description of the accommodation as a suite was a reference to the room’s special features and amenities, rather than to being a suite of rooms, the ASA concluded the ad was unlikely to mislead.
[Source: ASA 16 November 2020]
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