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Hotel resort fees are the bane of my (travel) existence, right up there with airline “fuel” surcharges on award tickets. There are few things more irritating than thinking that you have a free or cheap room, only to find that you’re getting charged anywhere from $5 to $30 extra (or more!) per night (or sometimes per person!). This is right up with hotel “city taxes” that sometimes get charged (very sporadically)
(SEE ALSO: Hotel city tax: legitimate expense or extortion attempt?)
Trying to answer why do hotels charge resort fees
I read an interesting article over on Quora trying to answer this same question. The answer was penned by Lauren Wolfe, who markets herself as the Founder and CEO of Kill Resort Fees, a website whose intent is to (wait for it) kill resort fees.
Lauren lists a few reasons why hotels charge resort fees, which mostly have to do with making sure they make more money (of course!). Much of it has to do with the relationship that hotels have with OTAs like Orbitz or Expedia – by charging the resort fee the hotel can get a higher percentage of the daily rate.
Some of the excuses why hotels charge resort fees
I loved Lauren’s examples of some of the excuses that hotels give as to why hotels charge resort fees, like the increasing cost of some of the hotel facilities, with the money quote of “…one has to wonder what the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Hotel in Hawaii, is doing charging $1,530 per night as their advertised room rate yet what on earth is not covered that the hotel still has an additional mandatory resort fee of $31.41 per night.”
If hotel resort fees were really about the facilities like the swimming pool or fitness center, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that you should get a refund if you didn’t use those? Of course that never flies, because it’s basically just a hotel money grab (like airline fuel surcharges)
The entire article about why do hotels charge resort fees is a great (and very in-depth!) read. I think most people would agree that hotel resort fees are annoying, very anti-consumer, borderline deceptive (very hard to find them disclosed on most hotel sites), and I’m sure the only reason Congress hasn’t made them illegal is that there are very powerful hotel lobbying groups.
What’s your take on why hotels charge resort fees and whether or not they should?
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I can save you a lot of writing. They charge resort fees to support the awesome resort stuff they let you do….NOT. They charge resort fees to make money. More specifically they advertise a lower room rate say $275 instead of $300 to bring in more guest and then charge $25+ to make up the ground. Then they add parking fees, internet fees, etc. for the same reasons.
Resort Fees are a cancer on the hotel industry. I’ll use Vegas for example… When MGM resorts started charging them, everyone else has to start charging them to compete for those people who were searching OTAs based on price. There are some hotels in downtown Vegas that have mid-week nights for $11-15/ night with a $25 resort fee. This is not going to go away until one of 2 things happens: Either the FTC will step in and require that any mandatory fees be included in the price (like they did with the airlines) or the OTAs will need to take a stand and start charging the hotel a cut of the fees on top of their normal commissions. Until one of those things happens, resort fees are here to stay.
DaninMCI is correct, Dan; and I have been trying to kill resort fees for years:
Would you care to join me on this crusade and help spread the word?
Just got done with stay at Hilton Disney springs. The resort fee is outrageous. As a gold member, I am entitled to half of the items that are included in the fee. The other half I could give a damn less about. Like a free DVD rental or a $5 coupon for activities. It’s downright insulting to pay a resort fee towards a friggin coupon. For this reason alone, I will not be returning in the future.
But where else will you go when everywhere charges hotel resort fees?!!?
Hotels that add/increase “resort fees” to their properties believe that they are making profit-enhancement marketing decisions within in a competition vacuum (i.e. your question “when ‘everywhere’ charges…fees). However, adding resort fees also triggers the unintended consequence of driving fed-up customers from resorts to nearly fee-free Airbnb properties.
A few years back, I gave thought to visiting Atlantic City, while on the East Coast. It was winter, the cheap motels were located outside Atlantic City and yet, their was a resort fee at all of ’em. Be assured none offered an indoor pool and other perks to justified their rip off fee.
Those $20 or $25 deals on the Vegas strip, now seem to double the nightly price with the resort fee. Plus, too many local cities use high hotel taxes to fleece the tourists.
It’s a complete rip off. Look at the Swan/Dolphin (SPG) which is on property at Walt Disney World. They charge a S23 daily resort fee, plus $20 daily for self-parking. You are looking at an additional $43 plus taxes if you drive to this property. However, official Disney hotels don’t charge for a resort fee or parking. Everything is bundled. Again, I agree that I get half for free as an SPG Gold. They waive or used to waive the resort fee for Platinums – but Golds get nothing..
I’d rather stay at an official Disney on property hotel. Better transportation, better pools, etc. and likely less cost. I’m generally OK with resort fees if they include something, such as parking. However, parking and resort fees have got to go.