A resort fee (also sometimes known as a facility fee, destination fee, amenity fee, or a resort charge), is a separate mandatory (taxed) fee that a guest is charged by a hotel, along with the base room rate and its tax. They began to be added to hotel bills in the late 1990s and are supposed to cover a variety of things, depending on the hotel, such as phone service, newspaper left at your door, high-speed internet access, use of the gym or pool, a bottled of water or two left in your room every day, continental breakfast, etc.
Why DO hotels charge you for a resort fee, anyway? After all, they didn’t use to. And is there any way to not have to pay it? Well…
Hotel resort fees across the United States vary from a relatively affordable $20 +/- per night to big cities where you might see prices hover around $45 or $50 or more (I’m looking at you, Las Vegas, who has hotels that charge more for the resort fees than the actual rooms, and fancy-schmancy places in Florida that charge over $150 per night in resort fees). The average price of a resort fee in the U.S. is about $25 per night.
Oh, and that’s another thing – it’s mainly in the U.S. where resort fees are a thing. They’re illegal in many other countries, but the U.S. has no laws that say hotels can or cannot charge them. So until they’re told they can’t, they do. The good folks at KillResortFees.com are doing their best to change that.
But why do hotels charge resort fees???
Because they can. I really think that’s the main reason. A hotel decides they want to make more money, so they start charging for things that aren’t a basic bed and a room, even if they didn’t use to charge for it, or if what they’re charging for isn’t worth nearly that much, or even if you have no intention of using anything included in the resort fee. Oh, and the hotels don’t have to pay occupancy tax on that money, because it’s not a charge for a hotel room; it’s a resort fee. #rolleyes
The problem with resort fees is they’re usually not included in the advertised price of the room. So the room rate looks low, but once the resort fee is added in, that awesome price may not look so good anymore.
What can you do about it?
Unfortunately, not a whole lot. Resort fees, when charged, are almost always mandatory. But there are a few ways you can try not to have to pay them, though:
- Don’t stay at a hotel that charges a resort fee. This is the most obvious, of course. But it also guarantees that you won’t have to pay a resort fee ;-). That being said, it may be difficult to find a resort fee-free hotel in some areas of the country (again, I’m looking at you, Las Vegas), but it’s worth a shot to search. This page gives some nice general hints. And if you’re going to New York City, this page lists all the hotels in New York City that don’t charge resort fees.
- Refuse use of what they’re charging the resort fees for. It’s a long shot but if you explain that you have your phone for the internet (including reading the newspaper), can buy water at 7-Eleven, don’t ever go to the pool or use a gym, etc., a hotel might (only might) waive the fee. Well, more like “probably won’t,” but it’s still worth a shot. It never hurts to ask, right? Good luck.
- Did the hotel deliver on its promise of what it was charging for? If the resort fee included high-speed internet and the internet wasn’t working, or if it was supposed to pay for the pool and the pool was drained, you can try to have the fee removed because the hotel didn’t deliver on its promise of facilities.
- Book the hotel with points. Some (but not all) hotels waive the resort fee if it’s an award stay.
- Use your elite benefits to your advantage. If you have elite status with a chain, you may already be getting, for example, free internet, and shouldn’t have to pay for it (again, this one is a “maybe” but it’s doesn’t hurt to try).
- Put the fee into dispute with your credit card company. “No credit card company believes their customers should be subject to such travel scams,” says KillResortFees.com. Again, this is a long shot because one man’s “scam” is another man’s honest charge for services. But there you go.
Unfortunately, as years go by, resort fees have become more begrudgingly accepted, as well as more of the norm. So although there are still a decent amount of hotels without resort fees out there, it’s getting more and more difficult to find them.
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