Great Wolf Lodge Takes One Step Forward, One Step Back With Resort Fee Policy
I've been a vocal critic of the Great Wolf Lodge's resort-fee policy for quite some time — mainly because at no point was the resort fee broken out and disclosed to prospective guests during the booking process. I was looking at my local Great Wolf Lodge website a few days ago and noticed that the resort fee is now disclosed on the final checkout screen. It's still not included as part of the advertised price, but it is disclosed.
One Step Forward on Disclosure
This is how the payment page displayed until a few days ago with the resort fee included in the "taxes and fees" line item that was not broken out at any point in the booking process:
And this is what the screen now looks like when it is time to pay for your room:
That is certainly a step forward toward including what I like to call the "second room rate" in the advertised daily room rate. It's important to note that this change on the Great Wolf Lodge website, at least for my local property, was made shortly after the attorneys general of both DC and Nebraska filed suit against Marriott and Hilton respectively about the lack of disclosure of resort fees in their booking processes.
One Step Back and Inconsistency
Disclosing the mandatory resort fee at checkout is a step forward and the bare minimum a hotel should do if to chooses to charge this fee. However, the new explanation given for the resort fee is a step back:
I haven't been everywhere (yet), but I've stayed at a fair share of hotels and resorts. Very rarely does any hotel charge individually for fitness center access. I can think of the private health club at the Ritz-Carlton, Boston, as one example, but the list of places that comes to mind is exceedingly short.
As rare as it might be for a hotel to charge extra to work out, I can't think of any hotel or resort that would charge for the use of safety equipment such as life jackets. At best, this is a suspect policy.
And wolf ears, well, I think I'd rather keep the $29.99 per night and walk right on by the ears at that price than pay a mandatory fee that includes them.
The FAQ page on this Great Wolf Lodge's website also appears to have been updated when it comes to resort fees, but unfortunately, it is incorrect. It says a $29.99 resort fee is charged at all locations, but that's false.
Several locations, like Anaheim, CA, charge a $34.99 per night resort fee:
The Niagara Falls location in Ontario, Canada, doesn't charge a resort fee:
TPG reached out to Great Wolf Lodge for comment and received the following statement:
"At Great Wolf Lodge we want to ensure every touchpoint we have with our guests is a positive one, and closely monitor guest feedback on all aspects of our business. Leveraging guest feedback, we decided to make modifications to our resort fees and how we communicate those fees on our website. We now have a consistent resort fee at all resorts with two exceptions -- our resort in Niagara Falls because it is a franchise location and Southern California. We also modified the website’s booking engine to better articulate what services the resort fee provides, and display the resort fee separate from local and state taxes to better inform guests of these charges before requiring final payment. As with all aspects of our operation, we will continue to listen to our guests and make future modifications as needed."
The good news is that US-based Great Wolf Lodge locations now have the resort fee broken out and disclosed on the final checkout page. To be clear, the Great Wolf Lodge in my hometown offers a great product and the one night we went as a family, my kids really enjoyed it. I hope the company will continue down the path of transparent pricing, but for the time being, make sure you know how to avoid resort fees or prepare for mandatory included wolf ears.