Resort Fees Debate - Running with Miles
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Resort Fees Debate

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Written by Dustin

There is an ongoing Resort Fees debate how hotels add these bogus charges to the cost of your room. What are your thoughts on this?

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The other day I saw some back and forth between a few people about Resort Fees and I thought it was quite interesting. I have personally stayed away from places with resort fees, but I see both sides of adding cost into one and leaving it separated out.

Resort Fees Debate

First things first. I think Resort Fees are a completely bogus fee and I think they should be eliminated. I also think the things of the fuel surcharges on award tickets, because it is interesting that some award tickets have a higher fuel surcharge than a completely paid ticket.

The site KillResortFees.com takes an aim to stop these fees, which I think is a positive. But, with that said I am not 100% sold on their approach. Now this is not an attack on them, but my opinion of the matter.

Now, let’s move onto the more controversial points of my post

The Problem

How frustrating is it, when you look at a hotel and see a price of $90 a night only to click book and see it greatly increase?

The reason you could see it increase is due to a ridiculous “resort fee” where you get a newspaper you don’t want and a bottle of water that is overpriced. Oh and don’t forget that high speed wifi…

This trend is increasing with hotels to have some sort of crazy fee. We see this in Las Vegas and these fees have been expanding to hotels in other large cities as well. I agree with many that this needs to stop, but unfortunately I don’ think this will anytime soon.

The Reality:

As frustrating as it is to see a resort fee, the hotels make it clear of this charge on the third party site or even their own. This is clear once you get to the check out page.

resort fees

Before you even select Reserve, you can see it says “Excludes $39.68 daily resort fee.”

resort fees

Here at the final page, it does give you the resort fees you need to pay. Along with the overall total you will need to pay.

But…That means the room advertised at $44 per night is really, $89.95 per night. That is definitely not $44, and isn’t in the ballpark of $44 per night.

resort fees

This definitely could change your mind if you decide to book this room

Anytime you book a hotel room, you’ll see the cost of a hotel room and the normal taxes/fees aren’t added on until you get to the complete booking page.

For example, the The Mayflower in Washington DC is advertised as $408 per night

resort fees

But, when you get to the final payment page, here comes the switch.

resort fees

The average before taxes is really $418, but once you add in the taxes it brings my night total to $480.

Hotels deceptive pricing goes beyond resort fees, but I know that the price list is not the price I will be paying regardless. I have to get all the way to the checkout section to see this and do my own math.

This is different than airlines where (we’ll exclude LCC for this) the price you see, is the price you pay.

Transparency:

Hotels not rolling these into one price allow you to see the breakdown of your fees. I find that more transparent than putting all these garbage fees into one price.

Rolling all the fees into one cost would help someone when they Google a hotel to see the price. Which would give consumers an easier idea to identify their cost before getting to the checkout stage. I don’t disagree with that at all. I think this way reduces transparency though.

What I think the argument should be is to remove these fees altogether, not lump them into one fee.

But, the resort fee is the same regardless if you roll it into one price or break it down. I think the breakdown (personally) let’s me see how much the fee is and let’s me decide if I want to pay it or not. By rolling these fees into one, I see it as a lack of transparency.

Would you prefer to see a room at $350 a night and $300 of that be taxes and fees? Would you even look at the breakdown?

By giving me a breakdown, it let’s me see if the hotel has a resort fee and that will help me decide if I will give that hotel my money or not. I can tell you, any place with a resort fee does not get my money.

“Travel Hackers”

We (the collective points and miles collector) like to travel for less. It doesn’t matter if it is a business class, low cost carrier seat, bus ticket, train ticket, or hotel reservation. These resort fees throw a curve ball in those plans because these fees can add up to hundreds of dollars over the course of a trip.

But, we “travel hackers” are savvy. We try to find new ways to game the system and beat the airlines or hotels. We’ll spend a lot of time looking for a way to save 5,000 miles on a trip, while paying fewer fees.

We read the fine print of credit cards terms and agreements to find out if we can get another bonus and call the reconsideration line multiple times to get that denial into an approval.

There isn’t only one type of accommodation when you travel (typically), especially in the US. There is competition from chain hotels, B&B’s, small hotels and even from companies like Airbnb.

Looking around at different Airbnb’s from Las Vegas, London, Rome, and a few other places, I didn’t see a big price difference in the cleaning fees and service fees. So, in the few areas I searched, I don’t feel Airbnb rolls resort fees into their prices. I could very well be wrong, but I also didn’t look through every single Airbnb out there.

If you don’t want to pay for resort fees, there are other options out there for you. If you want to use your Platinum status, or whatever your reason is for a that particular hotel, then you’ll have to pay that fee. Ultimately, that is a decision you’ll have to make.

The Casual Traveler

These are the people we know who take that one vacation or twice a year and might not look at the fine print. Or they don’t care and just want to get away and have a good time. I’d hope everyone reads the print, but I’m also realistic that most people don’t.

For these poor souls, I believe they are at greater risk of not seeing that fine print and paying these ridiculous fees. This could be due to not paying attention or lack of understanding.

I’ll come back to the fact these fees are listed at the check out price. Either they are listed in the taxes section or marked out that the resort fee isn’t included.

Who’s responsibility is it to look over all the cost before you book? I would say your own.

Alternative Options:

Let’s stop for a second and think of how we would deal with airline who have high fuel surcharges. I’m looking at you British Airways in particular.

We do everything we can do avoid them, because the fees are stupidly high. We can see this when we add up the fuel surcharges on an award ticket, vs the actual cost of a ticket.

There are so many options out there when it comes to accommodations. Stop thinking you can only stay at the Westin, IHG, or even some boutique hotel in these locations. There is competition out there, you just need to book it.

If you want to make a statement to these hotels, then you need to make the statement with your wallet. A hotel has is a fee you don’t like, book somewhere else. If you keep paying them, why would they change? If the saw a dip in revenue or rooms book per year, they would make adjustments.

As long as people are willing to book these rooms and pay the fees, we will see this continue.

While I don’t agree with it, if there is a way to make money companies will do it.

My Take:

Now I am by no means as smart as some of you travelers out there, nor am I a lawyer. I’m just a pharmacist who enjoys credit cards, points/miles, traveling, blogging, vlogging, and a good bowl of Captain Crunch.

But, when you book the hotel you are agreeing to those fees, whether you like them or not. Would you not agree? Just like signing for a credit card, you agree to their terms although some may seem ridiculous.

I mean, I was torn apart (and rightfully so) about paying a surcharge for my Lyft ride in Columbus. I’m not even going to link to that article because people rightfully humbled me and put in my place.

While at the time I felt it was crazy, I agreed to it. Then immediately whined about it once I had to pay up. Again, I have since learned from that, so no need to open old wounds 🙂

If you don’t like the fees, find an different place to stay. Or find a completely different location to visit. The world is a big place.

If you want to visit Vegas (in particular) or other locations that have mandatory fees, then you should know you are going to pay a high fee. Once you know that, budget accordingly.

I personally refuse to stay at an hotel that has these fees.

When I went to Honolulu, I was a Hyatt Diamond member, and I think Hilton Diamond as well. Each place charged a nice resort fee to stay at their hotel, including award stays (Thankfully Hyatt has stopped this practice on award stays, but others haven’t adopted this practice yet).

Not only would I have burnt quite a bit of points for that stay, I also would have shelled out a couple hundred bucks. So, I opted for an Airbnb. No money for those hotels from my bank account.

Why? I not only had an entire house, but it was only a little bit more than the resort fees I would have paid for my stay. That was a decision I made, because I believe these resort fees are complete garbage.

I spoke with my wallet, just like I try to do in all situations.

Conclusion:

Resort Fees are a garbage fee and they should be completely eliminated. Until they are, you need to speak with your wallet. You can’t expect companies to change until they see a negative change in their bottom line.

Having these charges rolled into one sum, and basically have someone else do your math doesn’t take away the fact you are paying these charges regardless.

What are your thoughts on this matter?

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About the author

Dustin

After completing 6 years of pharmacy school, I finally had the time to travel. I started investigating ways to travel for less and when I redeemed my first award flight for my honeymoon, I knew I was hooked! Fast forward a couple of years and places I had never dreamed of visiting like Budapest, Honolulu, Bermuda and many other places where all within my reach, and for little to no money out of my pocket. Now, I have collected well over a million points and miles, and try to help people travel for less on their wallet.

6 Comments

  • I do not like “resort” fees because it’s usually not a “resort” and we do not use whatever we’re being charged for (except when the parking is “free”)…swimming pool, exercise room, hula lessons, lei-making class, etc. I feel like I’m being swindled; however, the next time I plan to at least make an effort to get the hotel to omit the resort charges and see what happens.

  • Nope. Not paying resort fees. Unless they include parking fee in area where local parking is hard to come by and expensive.

  • I agree, resort fees for the most part are ridiculous. However, if you can afford the hotel stay, you can afford the resort fees. You mean to tell me you can afford $219 a night but cant afford an extra $20 on top of it? If that’s the case you shouldn’t go on the trip in the first place. If the idea of the fee bothers you that much, stay at a different property. The fees aren’t going anywhere, so no need to keep the debate going. As long as people need rooms, and hotels are in business to make money, the fees will stay.

  • I think resort fees are garbage. ALL Kimpton hotel charge them. Very, very rarely do these fees give you something of value- I think I saw a beach resort that gave gave you 2 beach lounges and 2 umbrellas and 2 waters a day. I avoid them like the plague, and not disclosing them earlier is deceptive! And few of these hotels are resorts!!

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