The Rip-Off Plague Continues To Spread – JW Marriott Los Angeles Adds A “Destination Fee”


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Destination fees, Resort Fees and Amenities fees are essentially a rip-off and they’re a rip-off that appears to be spreading disappointingly quickly.

In Los Angeles alone we’ve recently seen properties like the Andaz West Hollywood and the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown introduce truly ridiculous and indefensible Destination fees, a number of the Kimpton properties in LA have charged a Destination or Amenity Fee for some time, and now the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live has joined in the scam.

A few months ago I used some of my Marriott Bonvoy points to make a reservation for a friend at the JW Marriott Los Angeles and, because friends to let friends pay rip-off, I was sure to check that there was no additional fee to pay – apart from an insignificant $3.75 in estimated local taxes there was no other cash payment required.

The other day I was going through the various reservations I’ve made (for myself and friends & family) to ensure that they were still all in order and couldn’t help but notice a very obvious change to this particular booking:

The “taxes & Fees” now due on the reservation had increased to $148.13 and it didn’t take a genius to work out where the extra fees were coming from.

A deeper look into the reservation confirmed what I expected to see – the JW Marriott Los Angeles is now charging a $25 (+ local taxes) Destination Fee:

On the face of things, this destination fee isn’t quite as abhorrent as some of the other rip-off fees we’ve seen being applied as it covers a $20 food/beverage credit which may actually be useful to some guests…but there’s still a lot wrong with the charge, the way it’s presented and the way it’s being applied.

Firstly, this charge should not be appearing on this reservation. The booking I made was made before the JW Marriott Los Angeles introduced its Destination Fee so the property cannot, by law, charge the fee for this reservation…and yet it appears on the booking.

I faced a similar issue at the Residence Inn Miami Beach and although in that case I had the charge removed from my bill without any issues at all, I have to wonder how many other guests have made reservations before the fee was introduced and are being charged (and paying) these fees because they don’t realize they shouldn’t actually have to pay them.

Secondly, although the JW Marriott Los Angeles property displays the new Destination Fee prominently as soon as a guest reaches the rates page…

…I cannot find anywhere on the site which tells me what the full Destination Fee is supposed to cover.

I’ve checked the homepage, the hotel details page and any number of other pages associated with the property, but I cannot find a single other mention of the Destination Fee or what it covers.

The rates page says the fee covers a $20 food/beverage credit but doesn’t say if this comes with any restrictions or if it can be used for room service. It says that the fee covers in-room internet but the hotel details page still shows internet access costing between $9.95 and $18.95 per day…

…and I’m left to guess at what the “and more” mentioned alongside the Destination Fee relates too.

Thirdly, as a Marriott Titanium Elite who gets complimentary internet and complimentary breakfast as part of my Bonvoy benefits package at properties like the JW Marriott Los Angeles, I can’t help but wonder why I’ll be asked to pay a fee that supposedly covers internet access and a food credit.

My internet access should already be free and you only have to take a look through the numerous hotel reviews on Traveling For Miles to see that I very, very rarely eat any meal other than breakfast at a hotel (food is almost always better and cheaper elsewhere), so why should I be forced to eat another meal or forced to use the hotel bar just to get some value out of the Destination Fee?

JW Marriott Los Angeles and the Ritz Carlton Los Angeles at L.A. Live on a very grey day in LA

Bottom Line

We’ve already started to see the Attorney Generals in a few states and districts taking a lot more interest in the Destination/Resort/Amenity fees that hotels are charging and the sooner Xavier Becerra of California follows suit the better.

In the case of the JW Marriott Los Angeles, the Destination Fee is a little less heinous than in a lot of the other cases we’ve seen but it’s still a fee that’s poorly explained and a fee that has been introduced to raise yet more money for the property without the property having to show that it has raised the cost of a nightly stay.

In short, it’s still a colossal rip-off.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I believe in Marriott Bonvoy Rewards currently terms of service it states that if any benefit covered by a destination fee is also included as a member benefit the property has to provide an additional benefit of comparable value.

  2. Appears to me that Hotel Managements have lost all contact with reality… to be a full service hotel they must provide facilities such as restaurants, room service and bars. But, most of these facilities are not generating income because they are far too expensive and under used. What about removing resort fees, room service delivery charges, ridiculously expensive restaurants replace with cheaper shorter imaginative menus, bar snacks, live music in hotel bars to generate some atmosphere so guests will spend on the property. Squeezing customers with unwarranted fees etc just makes it less likely guests to return!!!

    • Great info! Thank you. This will go out in a blog post tomorrow (hopefully!) – I’ve never seen this before or heard it mentioned before and I doubt the overwhelming majority of elites paying these fees know about this either.

  3. I booked my 7 night travel package from Marriott at Kauai next year for 4 adults. My email reservation did include the destination fee of $20 per night. I get an email from Award Wallet for the reservation and it now includes a charge of $50 per night for 2 additional persons!! I log on to my Marriott account, and now it shows the extra charge. Am I Bonvoyed?? Can I show the original email when I check in/out?

    • My understanding is that a hotel cannot change the cost of a cash booking (in any way) once it has been made. If you’ve made any changes to the original reservation then that may have given Marriott a chance to add more fees but, otherwise, I think you should challenge the fees at the resort.

  4. There goes one more property I will never consider staying at. It irritates me on general principle and diminishes the value of my LT Titanium status.

  5. I had success filing a complaint with the AG for my state in getting refunded these type of fees from a hotel in Vegas. Worst case you should file a small claims suit.

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