Macau (MNA) – After a recent report exposed a case of hotel guests at Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel in Cotai renting their room out to third parties, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) informed Macau News Agency (MNA) that the case was not considered to be an illegal accommodation service but a breach of the Macau Commercial Code.
In a recent report by local news media, Exmoo, reporters passing by as tourists managed to contact a group that would rent an Executive Deluxe Suite in Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel, that would usually go for more than MOP2,500 (US$309) per night for some MOP150 for guests to sleep in a tent in the same room.
According to information on the hotel website, such suites have about 125 Square Meters and includes a pantry area with a wet bar, dining table, a 52-inch flat screen TV, a queen-size sleeper sofa and a marble bathroom.
To make this type of booking the journalists searched for ‘cheap five-star rooms’ in Chinese shopping platform Taobao and where then linked to a platform for selling second-hand products named Xian Yu.
After confirming the booking, the guest seller providing an WeChat account from where all details were provided and with part of the payment made directly through WeChat Pay.
Hidden camera video footage captured by the reporters showed several guests camping in five tents in the same suite.
The seller would then tell the floor of the room at the day of Check-in, with the seller picking the customer up and taking them to the room, with the rest of the payment made in cash.
No room card was provided, but a doorkeeper stayed in the room to open the door for the guests, even providing money exchange services. The people behind the business were allegedly from Mainland China.
In a reply to MNA on the issue, MGTO stated that after combing through the video clips and snippets in the news report for an in-depth analysis, it preliminarily confirmed that the involved establishment is one of the licensed hotel establishments in Macau.
However, it also indicated that considering the principle of legality, the act covered in the news report does not constitute an essential component of an irregularity defined by the provisions of the Law No. 3/2010 on Prohibition of Providing Illegal Accommodation, suggesting the property or the guests would not be liable to a penalty covered by this legislation.
Illegal lodging cases are common in Macau, with recent information provided to MNA by MGTO having indicated that 1,379 apartments were the target of inspections to prevent these services, with 245 apartments sealed for suspected infractions.
Although the case was not considered an illegal lodging service, tourism authorities added that, on the other hand, the act of renting an already booked room ‘allegedly’ infringed the obligations bound by a lodging contract as stipulated by the Commercial Code and that the hotel establishment has to hold the other signing party of the contract responsible for the infringement, with the act being a valid reason for refusal to provide accommodation.
‘MGTO has urged the establishment concerned to impose stricter security supervision and adopt effective measures to prevent lodgers from committing any act that may disturb other lodgers or interfere with the regular operation of the hotel establishment,’ the department stated.
MNA contacted a Sheraton representative who responded that the case reported was “unique” and that no similar cases had taken place in the Cotai hotel.
It also added that “unfortunately” after the hotel management become aware of the report and went to inspect the room, the patrons had already checked-out from the property.
The Sheraton representative stated that the hotel was contacted by MGTO after the report and underlined that the property has looked to place more security to identify if similar situations are taking place.
The hotel then said that “obviously” it looks for people to book rooms in the property through the normal channels and enjoy Sheraton’s amenities.
*With Edwina Liu