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Marriott CEO Says Resort Fees Are Like Baggage Fees – 4 Reasons Why That Isn’t True

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Written by Charlie

Marriott’s CEO recently likened Marriott resort fees to airline baggage fees. Here are 4 reasons why that absolutely isn’t the case.

In case you didn’t know, there is a big battle shaping up on this horrible practice of hotels of the dreaded “resort fee.” The attorney general for the District of Columbia has filed a pending lawsuit against Marriott for this practice. While many hotels have been launching resort fees on hotels that are decidedly not resorts, Marriott is certainly one of the worst offenders.

Marriott CEO Says Resort Fees Are Like Baggage Fees – 4 Reasons Why That Isn’t True

In a recent interview, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson made it clear that they will be fighting this action as he says that resort fees are here to stay. Hotels basically use these resort fees as something that will be collected at the property (even on award stays) that they say covers such things as:

  • gym usage
  • telephone usage for local calls/some long-distance calls
  • safety/security box in the room
  • internet
  • property credit of some kind
  • parking
  • beach access
  • extra facility uses
  • and other things that we have always just assumed came as part of a hotel stay.

Marriott breaks these fees out from the actual paid rate for the night – even on award stays. This can be a fixed amount or a percentage of the rate. One of people’s major problems with these fees is the fact that they are separate from the rate. If they were included in the rate, it would be easier to swallow because at least we are seeing the actual amount instead of getting slammed with an additional fee at checkout.

The following also is the same for “destination fees” and “facility fees” even though the property may include a credit for the property in that fee. It is not voluntary so it isn’t the same as spending your own money at the property.

Marriott resort fee

Marriott CEO Says Resort Fees Are Like Baggage Fees

So, Marriott’s CEO took the position that the resort fees are like baggage fees in the airline industry and actually said “none of as consumers necessarily love it.” No, really??? A side note – how often is the Marriott CEO a consumer when he chooses a hotel property to stay in?

Here are 4 reasons this is not true.

With Airline Baggage Fees, We Can Choose Carry-On Only

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Airlines charge baggage fees when we check a bag. As airline passengers, we can choose to not check that bag at all. In fact, in most of my flights, I never check a bag for my stuff. I always fly with just a carryon.

This is especially important on short trips. On short trips, most people don’t need a lot of belongings so only take a carryon. However, with hotel stays on short trips, Marriott is still going to assess that resort fee/destination fee even though we may not even take advantage of anything that is included in the resort fee.

No, Resort Fees are not like Baggage Fees

With Airline Baggage Fees, We Can Get the Fee Waived with a Credit Card

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With all the US airlines, you are able to waive at least the first checked bag fee on domestic flights simply by having/using an airline co-branded credit card. That is not the case with Marriott’s resort fees. Having a Marriott card does not waive resort fees – full stop.

No, Resort Fees are not like Baggage Fees

With Airline Baggage Fees, We Can Get the Fee Waived with Elite Status

If you have pretty much any level of airline status, you can get your first bag (and even more!) waived. In fact, depending on the status, you can get several bags for free!

Hyatt has made a great move for Globalist members by waiving resort fees (at the few properties that charge them) on award nights or on eligible rates. This is definitely a nice benefit for Hyatt’s top-tier elite members. Marriott does nothing like this – even though they have several levels of elite status that they could choose to offer it with.

No, Resort Fees are not like Baggage Fees

With Airline Baggage Fees, We Can Buy a Higher Cabin Fare to Add Bags

There are many times that we may be able to pay only a little more to get a fare class/fare bundle that could include free bags. For instance, on some short-haul routes, I have paid $30-50 more for a Delta first class ticket instead of economy and that included 2 checked bags! With JetBlue, you can buy a ticket in Blue Plus or Blue Flex that will, among other things, give you a free bag (or two).

This is not the case with Marriott. In fact, with a hotel property that charges the resort fee based on a percentage, you will pay even more if you book a higher grade room. Yea, not the same.

No, Resort Fees are not like Baggage Fees


With some airlines, you can get either miles or a voucher of some kind if your bag is not out in a certain amount of time. If the airline does not deliver your bag, you are able to get them to cover incidentals you need until your bag arrives and, in some cases, get your bag fee refunded or get a credit for the same amount.

Marriott does not give you back your resort fee if components of that fee that count as resort benefits are not working. For example, if the use of the fitness center is part of that fee and the fitness center is closed, you won’t get the fee refunded.

Yeah, Marriott, resort fees are not like baggage fees. If you took some of these examples from your counterparts in the airline industry, maybe you wouldn’t be finding yourselves getting sued over this stuff.

Or, like passengers do with Southwest, hotel customers could always just book at one of Marriott’s competitors that do not charge these ridiculous fees.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Resort fees are like baggage fees. They are the same ******* thing ! Yeah ELITE members are less then 20% of the traveling public so most people can’t get out of baggage fees. You can avoid them just like resort fees. Stay at a hotel without a resort fee. It’s hard to do but it’s possible.

    The point of the fee is THE SAME. Advertise one price , charge another. They are the same philosophy. Most bloggers are just that. Bloggers , a Mia understand of the business model and thinking that everyone else is elite like them.

    • You don’t have to be an elite to get out of baggage fees – having an airline credit card or going carry-on only (as millions of people have and/or do) will get the same result. Not the case with Marriott resort fees. They are definitely not the same.
      The major difference is that you don’t HAVE to pay an airline baggage fee, there are ways not to. You DO have to pay a Marriott resort fee – no way to get around it (short of staying at a different hotel).
      So, ignore the elite thing if that is your issue and focus on the other 3 things and the fact that the ARE different. One is optional – one is mandatory.

  • Why pay for an airline credit card when there are tons of cash back cards you can get that have ZERO annual fees. You pay big bucks for airline credit cards. Annual fees are not free and you have to take miles instead of cash. Cash is good for everything , miles have a set value that constantly goes down. Airline credit cards are VERY costly when you consider you lose the cash plus the annual fee. So they got you right where they want you.

    And YES once again the fees are the same ..EXACTLY the same.

    Advertise a higher price while avoiding higher taxes. Both fees are set to accomplish the same thing.

    • A cash back card does not give me access to better award options like a United card does. Some people value having lounge access for their couple of trips in a year. A cash back card does not give that. Retention offers can give enough miles to cover the cost of an airline fee or even get a statement credit. There are many ways to approach this. And, I never tell people to spend on an airline card (I wrote about that recently specifically about United cards).
      Both fees may accomplish the intent of avoiding higher taxes but they are not the same on the consumer end. One is mandatory and one is optional based on what I wrote here. If you can’t get that, there is nothing else to talk about.

      • I agree with Charlie resort fees are not the same precisely for the reasons he mentioned. I am a Bonvoy Gold Elite member and an owner of a timeshare formerly SPG and a Bonvoy Premier card holder, I think it’s ridiculous to have to pay a resort fee especially for a one night stay and more so because of my loyalty. I have certainly chosen a hotel for not having a resort fee even if it means not choosing my preferred brand but in my opinion it is poor business sense on Marriott’s behalf.

        • You would definitely think that Marriott would exercise a little forward-thinking for customers that spend so much money with them. Again, I feel they are a bit too confident/arrogant in relying on their global footprint and feel they can do this without repercussion. Well, we will see!

  • The CEO is a greedy shyster. Hopefully he will be replaced ed someday by someone who cares about the customer and not the all mighty dollar. Hilton and Hyatt get it and are getting more of my business.

    • I think Marriott is leaning heavily on their massive footprint but Hyatt has been making some very impressive moves over the last year so I think that is drawing some people to them for this as well.