A relaxing birthday trip to Hawaii has become a picket line for one Kiwi traveller – whose hotel has provided her with noise cancelling headphones to block out the sounds of angry workers on strike.

Services have been affected at five hotels on Maui and in Waikiki operated by Marriott, after 2700 workers went on strike on October 8.

The affected hotels include the Sheraton Maui, Sheraton Waikiki, Westin Moana Surfrider, the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and The Royal Hawaiian - a historic institution famous for its pink exterior.

Ali Heaney contacted the Herald after she found herself caught up in the industrial action at the Westin Moana Surfrider after travelling to Hawaii for her birthday - and was given no prior warning of the strike by the hotel.


Workers have been noisily picketing the five properties for 24 hours a day, seven days a week – urging visitors and residents to support workers by not patronising the hotels.

She had booked cheap flights for herself and her partner through Air New Zealand around a month ago, but had gone on to spend over $6000 for accommodation at the hotel.

"It's pretty shit that they don't warn you in advance and also there are groups [of protestors] standing outside all the hotels, yelling chants - some directed at patrons," she said.

The hotel had upgraded her party to a junior suite because of the strike, but there was no room service and no restaurants open, while breakfast was served on plastic plates and cutlery.

She said the pool had become unusable due to a group of around twenty workers protesting noisily a few metres away - however, the hotel had offered a novel solution.

"Armies of workers are trawling the beach banging pots and pans.... So many people are irate. Our hotel is providing noise-cancelling headphones for when you are out by the pool."

In video provided, a protestor can be heard on a loudspeaker saying "nobody's cleaning your rooms ... unsanitary".

At the Sheraton Waikiki, guests were being asked to pick up their own toiletries from the lobby.

At the Sheraton Waikiki, guests were being asked to pick up their own toiletries from the lobby. Photo / Supplied
At the Sheraton Waikiki, guests were being asked to pick up their own toiletries from the lobby. Photo / Supplied

Images posted on social media show crowds of workers with placards reading "one job should be enough" on the beach and the pavement outside the affected hotels, with some banging on drums.

The properties operated by Marriott are all owned by Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts. Unite Here Local 5 union leaders say management hasn't agreed to a demand that workers to be paid enough so they only need one job to support themselves.

Workers at the Sheraton Kauai Resort and the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa, which are operated by Marriott, not Kyo-ya, also voted to authorise a strike. The 640-plus union workers at these properties "could walk out at any time," Local 5 spokeswoman Paola Rodelas told AP.

The strike is nationwide, affecting eight US cities and 7700 workers from 23 hotels.

AP reported that officials were worried the industrial action in Hawaii could continue into next year, affecting hotel bookings.

The state's Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism had projected a seventh consecutive record-setting year in tourism – but officials said a protracted strike would add to a dampening in visitor numbers that began in June.