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Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Even Worse: Mandatory Resort Fees as Percentage of Room Rate

The concept of mandatory resort fees — which are also known by such euphemisms as destination fees and facilities fees — is enough to cause someone frustration, as they are added to the room rate and ultimately force guests to pay them whether they want to do so or not…

Even Worse: Mandatory Resort Fees as Percentage of Room Rate

…and in many hotel and resort properties, at least they are set at a fixed rate per night — not including tax, of course — so that once you find out about them during the booking process, you can fairly predict what will be the total cost of staying for a night as you are comparing room rates and room types.

However, some hotel and resort properties charge a mandatory fee which is a percentage of the room rate. One such property is The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, which gives no information pertaining to the mandatory fee which is charged when you initially arrive at its official Internet web site — nor when the reservation booking process has started.

With a random date of checking in to the resort property for one night on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, room rates range from $626.00 for a room with a limited view for members of the Marriott Bonvoy frequent guest loyalty program for the night to $4,200.00 for a presidential suite on the top floor for the night.

Click on the image for an enlarged view. Source: The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba.

Choosing the least expensive room shows that the advertised $626.00 room rate…

Click on the image for an enlarged view. Source: The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba.

…becomes a rather healthy total of $791.79 after all of the taxes and fees — and a “service charge” of $93.90 — are added. That service charge of $93.90 comprised of 15 percent of the room rate of $626.00.

One would think that therefore, choosing a more expensive room — such as the one bedroom executive suite, whose rate is advertised at $1,079.00 for the night — would yield the same service charge, as many other hotel and resort properties which charge a mandatory fee would typically do…

Click on the image for an enlarged view. Source: The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba.

…but the total cost for the night is $1,362.23 after all of the taxes and fees — and that nefarious service charge, which is now $161.85 — are added. That service charge of $161.85 comprised of 15 percent of the room rate of $1,079.00.

In other words, this room yields the same percentage of service fee depending on the room rate — not the same service fee itself.

How about one more example? Let us go all out and check the room rate of the most expensive room at the resort property: the one bedroom presidential suite on the top floor with an oceanfront view, whose room rate is a staggering $4,200.00 for the night.

Click on the image for an enlarged view. Source: The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba.

That $4,200.00 room rate translates into a total cost of $5,292.35 after all of the taxes and fees are added. The service charge of $630.00 — which is more expensive than the room rate of the aforementioned least expensive room — comprised of 15 percent of the room rate of $1,079.00.

What is included in the service charge is still a mystery at the time this article was written.

Summary

The only benefit a mandatory resort fee based on the percentage of the room rate could offer is if it would be less expensive than if the fee was based on a fixed rate — and the likelihood of that being true is fleeting at best. At least a fixed mandatory resort fee is justified with such valuable amenities as unlimited free local telephone calls and free unlimited use of the swimming pool.

One might argue that a service charge may be nothing more than a glorified mandatory gratuity based on the amount and level of service provided by the members of the staff of the resort property. Perhaps a guest who stays in the more expensive rooms gets to have more unlimited free local telephone calls and more unlimited free use of the swimming pool than a guest staying in a less expensive room?

Does any of that really matter?

This deceptive nonsense really needs to stop. Just be honest and call it like it is, as the room rate of the least expensive room = $791.79, or $729.90 plus taxes and fees; the room rate of the one bedroom executive suite = $1,362.23, or $1,240.85 plus taxes and fees; and the room rate of the presidential suite = $5,292.35. or $4,830.00 plus taxes and fees.

Was that really so difficult?

That I vehemently oppose the implementation of mandatory resort fees, facilities fees and now destination fees is no secret to you if you have been a reader of The Gate for years — they should either be optional or eliminated altogether — and I will just let this extensive body of work over the years pertaining to mandatory resort fees speak for me…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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