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.


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.

22 thoughts on “Even Worse: Mandatory Resort Fees as Percentage of Room Rate”

  1. Christian says:

    Like you, I absolutely loathe these fees. I think the most effective way to be rid of them would be to fine or imprison the CEO of any company that charges them. A less draconian and less enjoyable option would be to outlaw listing any room that has these fees added on at any point.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      …or keep educating as many people as possible about mandatory resort fees, Christian — spreading the word and giving guests the knowledge they need to either avoid them or fight them.

      The resort fee database I created is far from complete — but as I am only one person, I could use all of the help that I can get:


  2. Carl says:

    Having had some success with using points and miles to book award flights in J and F, I find myself struggling to find value in hotel programs, and resort fees are one of many reasons why. I guess the analogue would be the sudden proliferation of cleaning fees added on to Airbnbs prices (and now, booking.com and hotels.com as they swipe listings from Airbnb), but regardless, it’s a real turnoff.

    1. Christian says:

      It’s a tough situation. Some chains offer no resort fees for certain elites, so that might be a workaround. I don’t remember the specifics by chain, but it may be something to look into.

    2. Brian Cohen says:

      Price, convenience and any amenities which are included in a room for the night unfortunately seem to be becoming more and more important than a frequent guest loyalty program anymore, Carl.

  3. vc3 says:

    Having stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Aruba I can tell you that there’s no reason for the extra charge. As the items they list are common free items. Plus like all resorts like this you end up tipping for beach chair set up. The time we stayed as Titanium members the recognition of the status and the service we received was less than a typical Fairfield.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I appreciate you imparting that information pertaining to your experience at The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, vc3. Thank you.

      What you wrote was pretty much what I suspected but could not prove.

  4. colleen says:

    Once again Brian, I totally agree with the substance of your point. But your overuse of language makes my head hurt.


    “comprises of” = never used

    “comprised of” = OK when addressing the components of the total. “The total rate is xxx, comprised of a room rate of yy and a 15% resort fee of zz.”

    That said, paraphrasing Jimmy McMillan: “The rent is too damn high”

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you as always for the feedback, colleen. I appreciate it and applied the corrections.

      Will you be my translator?

      1. colleen says:

        Brian, I would be delighted to help you in any way I can, but don’t ever want to offend.

        I’m your nemesis in that my vocation/passion is “plain English” documentation.

        I’m available for anything you ‘d like help with. My price (free) is well worth what you pay.

        1. Brian Cohen says:

          You could never offend me, colleen.

          I smiled when I read your last message.

  5. Carl Pietrantonio says:

    To Carl, from *this* Carl, at least the cleaning fees on Airbnb’s is clearly revealed up front! Plus, at least in *my* case, it is EXACTLY what I am charged for cleaning, so it is merely passed on.

    Why not roll it in? It’s the same fee whether a 2 night or a ten night stay. But the shorter the stay, it would make it even more expensive per night and that scares people off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.