Gulf Coast Hotels Aim to Soothe Oil Worries

Clean up crews work on Pensacola Beach in Pensacola Fla., Sunday, July 11, 2010. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and members of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling held a meeting with officials and representatives from the panhandle at the Santa Rosa Island Authority on Pensacola Beach. Due to time constraints the site visit to walk on Pensacola Beach was canceled. The commission visited affected coastal communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida during the weekend. (AP Photo/Michael Spooneybarger)
AP Photo
With vacationers worried about the oil spill ruining their summer trip to the Gulf coast, beachfront hotels are working hard to soothe visitors' concerns.

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

Making sure travelers get their money's worth, hotels have loosened their cancellation policies, according to a report Tuesday in USA Today.

"It eased a lot of fears," Park Brady, CEO of ResortQuest International, a major vacation rental company in the region, told the newspaper.

Brady's company normally charges a 15 percent deposit and full payment before guests arrive. Now, the company gives full refunds if the beach isn't available to customers.

Other hotels are taking similar actions in the wake of the oil spill that's been going on for nearly three months.

Best Western Fort Walton Beachfront in Florida waived its standard one-night charge for rooms cancelled two days before arrival if "there's an oil event," owner Bruce McAlpin told the newspaper.

Guests at InterContinental Hotels can receive a refund for prepaid reservations if local officials close nearby beaches. Guests won't be docked for early departure charges if they check out for "a negative impact by the oil spill," the paper reported.

Hilton Worldwide told guests last month they'd receive a full refund should their trip be "in any way affected by the Gulf oil spill."

Marriott will provide refunds if officials issue "an official beach closure." Should guests decide to stay anyway, they can redeem a credit of 50 percent of the rate for each day the closure lasts.

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