The dishonest resort fee

By | March 3, 2015

I believe the most deceptive practice in the travel industry is the resort fee.  It is the complete antithesis to hospitality.  It is a made up revenue stream that serves NO purpose except to increase profits.  There is ZERO benefit to the hotel guest.  At least with an airline baggage fee you have the choice and get a benefit of not having to schlep around your bag.  Or with the prepaid fuel charge you don’t have to worry about filling up your tank before returning your rental car.  But resort fees serve no benefit to the customer.

Note: Resort fee does NOT cover slippers.  Sorry.

Note: Resort fee does NOT cover slippers. Sorry.

This weekend I stayed at the Aria in Las Vegas.  Overall it is a great property and one that I’ve stayed at at least five times.  The daily resort fee is $32.48; which is a significant amount.  For my visit this ended up being an extra $100, or the price of one night.  I basically stayed three nights for the price of four.  On the Aria website it lists the amenities included with the resort fee:

There is a $32.48 (tax inclusive) daily resort fee which is inclusive of access to the Fitness Center at The Spa & Salon at ARIA, in-room wired and wireless internet access, wired and wireless internet access throughout the ARIA campus, in-room local and toll-free telephone calls, daily newspaper at Elements (with last name and room number) and airline boarding pass printing (at the Business Services Center, Concierge Desk or internet kiosk).

Many of these (if not all) are often included with your room rate at other hotels.  It would be like charging a mandatory “windshield wiper fee” to every car rental (don’t get any ideas Avis).  Well, when I was getting packed up last night I realized I never utilized even one of these amenities.  Not even the Wifi, which I have discovered on past trips is extremely unreliable and slow.  So I decided to call the front desk to see if I could have the resort fee removed, since it was $100 worth of product I didn’t use.

I was told by the front desk that the resort fee is mandatory and you have to pay it.  The benefits are just additional amenities offered because of the resort fee, and it is your choice to use them or not.  Huh?

My stay at the Waimea Plantation in Kauai also included an $18.75 per day resort fee.  However, I can’t find it listed any where on their website so I have no clue what this pays for especially since you would be hard pressed to consider this property a resort.

In June I am heading to Orlando and the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress charges $25 a night (plus an additional $17 for self parking) that includes “scheduled transportation to Disney, Universal and Sea World, watersports rental and more.”  So apparently chain hotels are not adverse to charging resort fees either.

I get why these properties do it.  It is because of online travel agencies like Expedia and Orbitz.  Many guests are looking for the cheapest hotel and the resort fee is not included in the list price you see during your search.  I think it also is a psychological trick to get people to think they are getting a better deal than they are.  My nightly price at Aria was only $99!  Well, make that $132 with the fee.  That’s a pretty significant increase.

FTC letter

FTC letter

I like that airlines are now required to show you the final price of your airline tickets that includes the various mandatory taxes and fees (I know, people will say they get you with the luggage fees, but those are technically optional).  I know the airlines are more closely regulated than hotels, but wouldn’t it be great if every time you saw a quote for a hotel room you knew it was going to be the real price?  In 2012, the FTC sent a warning to 22 hotel operators about the deceptive practice of resort fees, but I do not know if the FTC has any teeth to do anything about stopping the practice.

If the hotels want to nickel and dime use for every little amenity (like charging for wifi), then do that.  But allow the guest to have the choice.  If they don’t want wifi, or don’t want to check a bag, or don’t want to prepay for their gas, then allow them the choice not to purchase it.

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