Stop Fighting Resort Fees: This Is a MUCH Better Solution!

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Resort Fee Solution

Resort Fee Solution

This week the District of Columbia Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Marriott citing that they were charging deceptive fees. In some cases they didn’t disclose fees until the end of booking while in others fees included things that were already free.

The Marriott case is just the latest example of people fighting back against fees, mainly the very popular resort fee. A resort fee is a charge levied by a hotel that is generally mandatory and which includes a certain number of amenities. Resort fees often help hotels avoid paying commissions to online travel agents, which is why they have become so popular.

The Real Resort Fee Solution

But why do we care so much about resort fees? Airlines charge fuel surcharges on so many fares, but we don’t generally complain. Why is that? It’s because we don’t ever really see them when paying a cash fare. Or at least they don’t factor nearly as much into our decisions because airlines have to advertise their fares including all taxes & fees.

As the U.S. Department of Transportation puts it, “For both domestic and international markets, carriers must provide disclosure of the full price to be paid, including government taxes/fees as well as carrier surcharges, in their advertising, on their websites and on the passenger’s e-ticket confirmation.”

In other words, the government makes them show you the TOTAL PRICE.

Resort Fee Solution
Hyatt Regency Maui

How to Look at a Rate

To discuss this a bit more, let’s look at one of the world’s biggest resort fee villains MGM Resorts International. A few months back they had a briefly available rate of $50 for a Fountain View Room at the Bellagio and I booked it through Hyatt. I do sincerely hope this stay will be better than my previous one.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the confirmation:

Hyatt did do a pretty good job of telling me about the fees. They noted on the hotel page that a resort fee is charged and on this confirmation I can clearly see the breakdown. But that doesn’t change the fact that the room rate on Hyatt.com said $50 when I searched and clicked on this hotel. That is exactly why this needs to change.

Resort Fee Solution
Grand Hyatt Bali

A New Real Hotel Rate

If hotel rates were like airfares, the nightly rate for the room above wouldn’t be $50, but instead it would show as $107.71 per night. The “Real Hotel Rate” would include the resort fee plus taxes. Basically, what I would see when searching and booking is the EXACT amount I will pay. Just like with airfare!

With the Real Hotel Rate resort fees don’t matter. Neither do “facility fees” or any other type of fee a hotel can come up with. They tell you a TOTAL price when you book and you pay it. This also helps when budgeting, since hotel taxes vary wildly from place to place. In some cases taxes/fees can be 20%+ of a room rate so this would help people better know what they are going to pay even when not talking about resort fees.

Conclusion

Whether it happens through lawsuits, legislation or customers speaking with their wallets, I do think change will come in the arena of hotels and resort fees. I do hope that we aren’t shortsighted enough to wack this mole while allowing another one to pop up. Let’s move for the full disclosure of hotel rates up front. The hotel industry won’t like it, but it is the best move for consumers.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Do you understand what consumer protection laws do in the United States? State attorneys sue when something is illegal to a consumer. That is part of what lawyers do-protect consumers from greedy corporations taking advantage of people. They protect consumers against junk fees just like this. A resort fee is NOT like a baggage fee-you don’t have a choice of opting out. And there has been a huge trickle down effect-they aren’t just in Vegas or beach towns with resorts any more. Washington DC a resort fee? Yup, lots of them now!! San Diego, NYC, Philadelphia, Montreal? These used to be at resort hotels that had resort things like fancy pools and bike trails and activities for the guests and beach chairs. They aren’t for that anymore. I can somewhat see begrudgingly if it offers you food or beverage credit at the hotel in an amount that you can buy something, but not a fee that gets me a newspaper I don’t want, 10% off an overpriced tour, $10 off a dinner in the hotel restaurant where all the dinners start at $50 and are pretty lousy, and access to a gym I used to get for free. It is an easy matter to fix-let the state attorneys ban them making them mandatory-and instead letting people opt in or making sure they actually are valuable and not junk fees!!!! And don’t say these fees are popular-what they are is used widely by the hotel industry -BUT that does not make them popular. Popular means well-liked. I can’t imagine anyone likes these fees.

  2. Shawn, as much as I often much value your web site….. this essay reeks of where you sit, namely Las Vegas — king of “the very popular resort fee.” Only somebody writing from Vegas would have the nerve to call these dogs “very popular.” Oh yes, you get it, so why then did you call them “popular?” Popular only with the scum in your fair city who’ve mastered the art of deceptive fees, and not just the “very popular resort fee.” (I ripped into you once long ago on my first and only visit to Vegas….. after realizing the proclivity of the gambling class to bill you for everything, even worse that Spirit Airlines.

    So telling that every other state Attorney General across the USA is now joining in with effort to crack down on the resort fee scam… every state that is except Nevada.

    • ps, in any case, DO much concur that total price disclosure, up front, is yes, the ultimate best solution. The sooner the better; Sadly though, it will come last to your city, owned as it is by king pin billionaires from Adelson on up.

    • Wow. I know you have been reading this site for awhile so your comment is very surprising and is completely off base. I have been very anti-resort fee for a long time, but the truth is we need a solution instead of lawsuits and rhetoric that don’t really fix anything. This article details a solution that make resort fees not matter and lets consumers see the correct price. What is wrong with that?

      The use of the word “popular” is referring to how fast these are spreading. Popular among hotels. I would never assert that any fee is popular with consumers. Why would I do that? As you say these started becoming widespread in Vegas, but now hotels in every major city charge resort or destination fees. Hence the use of the word popular. Dare I call them a trend.

      Anyway, thanks for reading. I’m not a shill for Vegas, Nevada or resort fees. I am just someone who seeks solutions and this is a VERY easy thing to fix.

  3. If u don’t like it just book through non-US sites. What you see is what you pay. This is only a localized US issue.

  4. This is why it matters. Because resort fees are usually garbage charges you don’t want!! If you wanted to opt in, fine, but you don’t get to opt out. And they are going to all cities, not just resort cities. NYC is not a resort city. Why should I have to pay $30 a day to have a newspaper, 2 bottles of water, 10% off a tour I don’t want and $20 off a $100 massage? This is just an example. Many times you are charged for things you normally get for free in your room rate, internet, local phone use, gym use, and safe use. At this rate, hotels will start charging every time you use the bathroom. Very seldom does a resort fee provide any value.

  5. I think the reason we don’t complain so much on airfare is because typically the price shown on matrix / their website is the end price including the gov tax and fuel surcharge, while luggage and seat reservations are just a non-mandatory extra charge like hotel breakfast or laundry.

    • So you force them to give you points on any and all fees and they lower the earning rate. That really doesn’t matter in this argument since it is all factored in to each loyalty program.

  6. Just go on to the UK site for the hotel or the OTA and you will see the real rate. Advertising a price which is not the price you pay is illegal in the UK – applies to all goods and services not just travel.

    • Not really. I just checked priceline.co.uk, and while they include the fee in small print, it is not included in the total price used for ranking low-to-high prices. It goes like this:

      Hotel 1: $89
      Hotel 2: $90 + $25 hotel fee
      Hotel 3: $92
      etc

  7. They will not change until OTAs start collecting commissions on mandatory fees as well as the room rate.

    Say Expedia sells a $60/nt room with a mandatory $40 resort fee. Rather than Expedia collecting their 20-25% on that $60, they SHOULD be collecting it on the entire $100. Once they start writing this into their contracts, it’s over.

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