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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:
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.
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?
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.