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Few things have become more irritating in travel than hotel resort fees. Apparently any property is now allowed to call itself a resort, and some hotels, like the Wyndham New Yorker, try and avoid the stigma by calling their ancillary charge a “facility fee.” This is irritating for two main reasons:
- The resort fee is not included in advertised prices for the hotel room, and only some online travel agencies and hotel chains do a good job of disclosing the fee prior to booking.
- The fee is charged to cover what should be standard amenities at a hotel, like pool access, pool towels, fitness center access, a bottle of water, in room coffee and “unlimited” wireless internet.
Every time I hear a check-in agent’s spiel about what the resort fee includes, I cringe at the new items showing up on the list and have to refrain from snide comments. And I’m not alone in finding these charges to be ridiculous; Fortune rounded up a few great quotes from hotel representatives on resort fees:
- Arizona Grand Resort & Spa: “Studies have proven that travelers prefer to book a lower room rate and pay the resort fee on top than to pay one bundled higher price.”
- Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch: “The resort fee allows us the flexibility of adjusting the inclusions by seasons and new resort events and offerings, rather than making it static in the room rate.”
- Watercolor Inn & Resort: “By not including the resort fee, we’re able to break out all of the amenities the guest will receive with this fee — an explanation that may be missed if this fee was included within the total rate.”
- Fisher Island Club: “The tax rate for the membership (resort) fee differs from that of the lodging fee, therefore, they are presented separately.”
- TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig received this from Hyatt: “Resort fees are reflective of resort properties’ added amenities and recreational activities in line with expectations of a resort experience.”
With those stellar explanations in mind, let’s look at a few hotels with the most ridiculous resort fees:
1. The New Yorker Hotel
Resort fee: a $31.57-per-day “facility fee”
Included amenities: State-of-the-art fitness center, business center with internet and printing services, high speed in-room Wi-Fi services, long distance and international phone calls.
With rates for the New Yorker starting at $119, the facility fee adds another 25% of the cost to your bill. After my recent stay, I can assure you there is nothing at this property that justifies the charge.
2. Palazzo, Las Vegas
Resort fee: $39 per day plus tax
Included amenities: Access for two to the fitness facility within the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, in-suite internet access (Wi-Fi or Ethernet), boarding pass printing, unlimited local and toll-free calls, daily newspaper available at Café Presse, access to thousands of top newspapers and magazines using PressReader app while connected as guest to Venetian or Palazzo Wi-Fi.
Vegas resort fees continue to increase every year, and they cover amenities that are standard elsewhere around the world for hotel stays. Nightly rates begin at $210, so the resort fee can add another 20% to your bill.
3. Three-Star Las Vegas Hotels
Resort fee: $12-$29 plus tax
Included amenities: Property-wide high-speed internet access, unlimited local and toll free calls, airline boarding pass printing, notary service, fitness center access for guests 18+.
When you get below the five-star Vegas resorts to properties like Luxor, Circus Circus and Excalibur, the resort fee adds a heap of insult onto your trip. Look at the following screenshot of a reservation for a weekday night at Excalibur, where the resort fee is higher than the room rate:
4. Turtle Bay Resort, Hawaii
Resort fee: $41.88 per night
Included amenities: Wi-Fi internet access for in-room and public areas, GoPro usage available for guests, Beats Pillbox speakers complimentary use, unlimited local telephone calls, in-room private label coffee and tea, overnight self-parking, complimentary ukulele lessons, unlimited incoming faxes, business center access, fitness center access, complimentary two-hour snorkel rental, one-hour tennis court usage per person per day, complimentary 10-minute stand up Paddle Clinic with Hans Hedemann Surf School, complimentary use of Titleist golf clubs on practice range when purchasing a bucket of practice golf balls, live entertainment throughout the hotel’s food & beverage outlets.
~$42 per night is on the upper end of most resort fees. While the resort includes a wide variety of amenities for the fee, at a hotel where rooms start at $400 a night, I’d expect most of this to be included. Why not just add the $40 into the room rate?
5. Provident Luxury Suites Fisher Island, Miami
Resort fee: $100 per night plus tax
Included amenities: This is how the hotel describes its fee:
Most amenities and restaurants on Fisher Island are managed by the Fisher Island Club. Provident Luxury Suites Fisher Island has no affiliation with the Fisher Island Club. Upon arrival, guests are required to register and become temporary members with the Fisher Island Club to access many on-island amenities. Daily transfer and access fees of $100 per day plus tax will apply.
Based on the website description, it’s not very clear what’s included for the $100, besides temporary membership in the Fisher Club. A hotel representative didn’t seem all that familiar either, but they did suggest that the fee covers access to the restaurants, golf courses and spa, although you’ll also need to pay for services at those venues, of course. The club seems to be fairly serious about getting the $100, as this statement describes:
Please note that the resort fee is paid directly to the Club and will be processed at the membership office Monday-Friday from 9:00am- 5:00pm and Saturday – Sunday from 10:00am – 4:00pm. Arrivals after the hours of operation for the Club membership will result in limited access to the Island amenities including the restaurant, spa, gym, golf and tennis.
Additionally, expect to pay up to $125 per day for housekeeping, plus a $200 cleaning fee upon departure.
6. Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain, Arizona
Resort fee: $50 per night
Included amenities: Overnight valet parking, unlimited and enhanced guest room high-speed internet access, daily group fitness class, access to golf driving range and putting green (club rental included), unlimited use of specialized mountain and road bikes, recreation activities such as Guided Morning Walk, Desert Friends Experience, family board games, bocce ball, horseshoes and more, unlimited use of tennis courts (equipment rental included), evening mixology class, selection of daily newspapers, 24-hour use of computer and printing services in business center.
I don’t understand luxury properties that charge significant amounts for a night’s stay and feel the need to squeeze another $50 per night out of guests. The property does a good job of trying to list value for the fee, but many guests may only use one or two of these amenities.
7. Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs
Resort fee: $36 per night plus tax
Included amenities: Valet parking with in and out privileges, one car per room per night, wireless internet access, business center access, 24-hour access to Body Rock fitness center, In-room Keurig coffee maker, airport transportation to Palm Springs International Airport (restriction may apply), up to four pool party passes per Double Queen room type, up to two pool party passes per King room type.
Room rates can be had for as little as $150 per night at this property, so adding another $40 to the bill is steep — especially as everything included in the resort fee should be standard for any hotel stay.
8. Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Puerto Rico
Resort fee: $95 per night plus $15 “local fee” per night
Included amenities: I couldn’t find a specific list of anything included with the resort fee on the website, nor a mention of the fee until the final checkout page if you click a hyperlink. However, a quick call to the hotel revealed that the fee covers access to the water park, pool and beach towel/chair/umbrella service (excluding gratuities), access to seven miles of nature trails around the property (including two miles of beachfront), bicycle rental, fitness center access with free classes, tennis court access, Wi-Fi, butler service, Nespresso in the room, coffee and tea at the concierge area each morning, business center access, valet parking and other benefits.
Still, considering rooms are often more than $1,000 a night, it’s odd to see the property try and squeeze another $100+ out of guests. The “local fee” is broken out separately, and most of the hotel’s representatives I spoke with were not even familiar with this charge — a reservations supervisor eventually clarified that it’s a tax used for the local area.
There’s no doubt that hotels are enjoying the huge boost in revenue from these fees, but hopefully the FTC will pursue making these charges illegal. Until then, make sure you know your options on how to avoid resort fees, always check your reservations carefully to see if they are included and use ResortFeeChecker.com when you are shopping hotels. Additionally, request they be waived upon check-in (or checkout) if you aren’t going to use any of the “added resort amenities.”
Have you had to pay a ridiculous resort fee?
Featured image courtesy of Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
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