Who Likes Resort Fees? Not Me
B arbara Delollis asked in an article earlier this morning a question which I considered to approach rhetorical status:
Other than management at a hotel property, who in the world actually likes resort fees?
Count me in as one of many who certainly do not, Barbara — and neither do FlyerTalk members, according to an article I wrote back on November 28, 2012 where the Federal Trade Commission of the United States finally took action against the practice of hotel properties in charging undisclosed mandatory resort fees to its guests.
In the 106 discussions with resort fees as the main topic which I found on FlyerTalk in 2012, words by FlyerTalk members used to describe their disdain for resort fees included — but are not limited to — extortion, fraud, scam, worthless, silly, and outrageous…
…and the disdain was shared by Milepoint members in at least eight discussions in its relatively nascent history. In a poll posted back on February 16, 2011, 80 percent of Milepoint members voted that resort fees caused them to change hotels or cancel reservations. They do not like the practice, as resort fees should be included in the room rate.
As in 2012, I still wholeheartedly agree today. In my opinion, resort fees are probably the closest activity to fraud which certain hotel properties attempt to impose on their guests — and it has been a problem for years.
The way resort fees typically “work” is that you find a hotel which could double as a destination — usually calling itself a resort. The hotel charges a fee — usually per day — and bundles a list of “amenities” included in the resort fee such as:
- A free newspaper
- Access to a health club
- Use of the swimming pool
- A discount on dining on the premises of the hotel property
- A discount at the gift shop on the premises of the hotel property
- Free local telephone calls
Oh, joy — a discount at an overpriced gift shop. You and I get to pay for that privilege?!?
Often, the resort fee is a mandatory charge — whether or not you uses the amenities — and it is often initially hidden from you when shopping for lodging.
In December of 2012, the Le Parker Méridien hotel in New York had announced that it will implement a mandatory daily facilities charge of ten dollars per day effective as of January 1, 2013. Although that announcement was almost a month in advance of the effective date of its intended implementation, I thought it was a rather bold and gutsy move on the part of management of that hotel property considering that the announcement was within a month of the stance of the aforementioned action by the Federal Trade Commission.
I still believe that hotel properties should be required to disclose all mandatory taxes and fees and include them in the room rate, as required of airlines in the United States as of January of 2012. This will give you and I more of an advantage to fairly compare room rates at competing hotel properties before deciding to book a reservation. It is a waste of time for us to have to investigate every single room rate to find out what is the absolute true total cost.
I have no problem with hotel properties charging fees in order to increase revenue and cover costs — and, dare I say, even profit from it — as long as disclosure of those fees are as clear and as easy to find throughout the entire reservation booking process as possible, and as long as the fees are “unbundled” from the room rate for optional amenities and services. For example, if use of the hotel pool now costs ten dollars per day instead of including it in the room rate, impose it as an optional charge and reduce the mandatory room rate by ten dollars per day. This is fair, as only those who use the pool will pay the fee.
Rarely do I ever patronize a hotel property which charges a resort fee — unless I am absolutely receiving value for my money. In most cases, I never use the offered amenities covered by a resort fee; and so, they are worthless to me as well — especially when those amenities would have been included free of charge within the room rate as a member of a frequent guest loyalty program with elite level status.
Hotel properties should be allowed to earn revenue any way they possibly can. I have no issue with a hotel property charging resort fees, as long as it:
- Clearly discloses the resort fees in advance
- Offers real value for the price paid for the amenities included in resort fees without decreasing the benefits normally offered exclusive of a resort fee, and
- Implements resort fees as optional, rather than mandatory
Charging mandatory resort fees after a reservation is booked is a predatory practice that is deceptive at best; and this practice needs to cease and desist immediately. In my opinion, resort fees are a method to artificially offer — and advertise — a lower room rate…
…but you can possibly reduce — or eliminate altogether — resort fees on your next visit to a resort property, as many other frequent fliers have successfully done in the past.
- Do not patronize hotel properties which implement a mandatory resort fee — especially if you will not benefit from it. These properties are typically found in touristy resort areas such as parts of the Caribbean, Orlando, Las Vegas or Hawaii — although they can be found almost anywhere.
- If the hotel property does disclose that a mandatory resort fee is charged and you really want to stay there, contact the management of the property and inform them that you will not stay at their property unless they agree not to charge you the resort fee. Although it may take some effort, be prepared to negotiate, as you might be pleasantly surprised at what you might be able to accomplish as a result; but enter into the negotiations expecting to get nowhere so that you are not disappointed — and have a Plan B, a Plan C and perhaps even a Plan D if you are unsuccessful in your negotiations.
- If you are informed of resort fees for the first time when checking into a hotel property, adamantly refuse to pay it. Walk out of the hotel property if the front desk agent refuses to oblige, or contact the corporate office of the lodging company of which the hotel property is branded to submit an official complaint.
You may also want to consider taking the following steps to help end this deceptive and sneaky practice of hotel properties charging undisclosed mandatory fees:
- Boycott hotel properties which impose undisclosed mandatory fees to its guests. Hit them where it hurts — in terms of reduced revenue. Vote with your feet and choose an alternate hotel property, if available.
- Alert the Federal Trade Commission of the United States of this practice by filing a complaint when reporting hotel properties.
- Spread the word about these rogue hotel properties and their unfair policies to family, friends and colleagues. Encourage them to join you in the boycott, file complaints to the Federal Trade Commission of the United States, and spread the word to their families, friends and colleagues.
There is no reason for you to be forced to pay for something you did not use — let alone be unfairly charged additionally after you already paid for it or reserved it.
Should the Federal Trade Commission of the United States have pushed further to renounce resort fees as little more than as a scam altogether?
Well, a petition was officially launched in early 2013 for the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit mandatory resort fees imposed by hotel properties unless they were added to the quoted room rate — but it unfortunately failed to garner the 100,000 signatures which were needed by February 27, 2013 in order for it to even be considered.
Apparently, the concept of mandatory resort fees was not enough of an issue to warrant a change in the law back then. What about today?
What are your thoughts pertaining to resort fees? Please share your experiences and stories about being the “victim” of egregious mandatory resort fees.