Palm trees at sunset
Photograph ©2010 by Brian Cohen.

What is Included in a Mandatory Resort Fee of $160.50 Per Night?

I f you decide that you want to take advantage of the Upfront Savings room rate — which is the least expensive rate and you must pay in full at the time of booking your reservation — for Saturday, February 25, 2017 at Fisher Island Club in south Florida, the cost to you will be $1,100.00 for the night…

…but actually, you will pay a total of $1,403.50 per night, thanks to $143.00 in sales tax — and a $160.50 service charge as the most expensive resort fee I have ever seen.

What is Included in a Mandatory Resort Fee of $160.50 Per Night?

Resort fee
Source: Fisher Island Club.

Perhaps I am to blame, but I personally could not find out exactly what is covered under the resort fee — excuse me, service charge — of $160.50 at the official Internet web site of Fisher Island Club; so I went to the hotel information area of Expedia to find out. A caveat posted at Expedia cites that “We have included all charges provided to us by the property. However, charges can vary, for example, based on length of stay or the room you book.”

The resort fee purportedly includes:

  • Pool access
  • Beach access
  • Beach loungers
  • Beach towels
  • Health club access
  • Fitness center access
  • Fitness and yoga classes
  • Business center and computer access
  • Internet access
  • Newspaper
  • In-room safe
  • In-room coffee
  • Concierge and valet service
  • Parking
  • Additional inclusions

Optional Extras

The following fees and deposits are charged by Fisher Island Club at time of service, checking in, or checking out:

  • Breakfast fee: between $10.00 and $20.00 per person
  • A late check-out fee will be charged
  • Rollaway bed fee: $75.00 per stay
Room rates
Source: Fisher Island Club.

There are two other rates available for the guest house suite with a king bed, costing $275.00 and $325.00 more for the night respectively. The rate increase of $50.00 for breakfast does cover up to two people; so if you think that $50.00 per day for breakfast for one or two people is reasonable, then I suppose this rate is for you — but that certainly seems to be more money than the breakfast fee of “between $10.00 and $20.00 per person”; and both the best available rate and the breakfast inclusive room rate increase by another $75.00 if you include a third person in the room.

Summary

Fisher Island Club may be situated on the most exclusive island in the greater Miami metropolitan area; and it may offer the ultimate in opulence for its guests; but tacking on a service charge of $160.50 — regardless of whether or not the amenities are well worth the cost — is tacky at best, in my opinion.

Besides, I have no idea what are “additional inclusions” as part of the mandatory resort fee — but you as a guest would be paying for them.

Why do this to guests? Why insult their intelligence with an additional mandatory fee while they are booking their room?

I believe in the free market and allowing it its due course. If an entity offering an option for lodging prices a room rate of $2,500.00 per night and clearly advertises it — and a guest is willing to pay for it — then that is the free market at work. The game changes when the room rate is advertised as less expensive but the result paid is the same because of some mandatory fee.

If a guest is willing to pay $1,100.00 in advance at the time of booking a reservation for a room for one night, then why not just advertise the room at $1,403.50 — or, at least, at $1,243.00 when sales tax is not included and simply get rid of the ridiculous service charge? It is not as though a prospective guest will look at the room rate of $1,243.00 and say, “I would have easily paid $1,100.00 for a night — but $1,243.00 is ridiculous. I am going to find out how much a budget motel will cost for the night instead.”

I strongly maintain that mandatory resort fees and similar mandatory facilities fees are purposefully deceptive and should be illegal — there was an effort by lawmakers in crafting legislation to target resort fees earlier this year; but there generally has been no progress on this bill since its introduction almost a year ago — regardless of the hotel or resort and what it offers to guests, who have a right to know what they are paying as advertised.

The ideal solution is for hotel and resort properties to offer room rates which include all taxes and fees for the consumer to instantly identify — similar to pricing displayed in large numerals at fuel stations — but should also disclose the exact breakdown and itemization of room rates so that the consumer knows exactly what he or she is paying; and to whom.

The lodging industry needs to immediately cease and desist the practice of charging guests mandatory fees once and for all and include them in the room rate — even if that means increasing the room rate by as much as the mandatory fee, which in this case would be $160.50.

Photograph ©2010 by Brian Cohen.

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