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If you ask a group of frequent travelers what five aspects of the offerings they get from hotels and airlines they dislike the most you’re likely to get a host of different answers.
Some will probably point to the inability of certain airlines to keep to a schedule (that would be you AA), some will probably comment on hotel rooms that don’t offer enough power outlets and some will complain about the ever decreasing amount of space passengers are given on an aircraft…..but I’m willing to wager that one ever more apparent aspect of travel will appear on most of their lists – Resort fees.
Resort fees are essentially a way for hotels to nickel and dime their guests by charging them for things that should either come included with the room rate or things that most of them probably don’t want in the first place and more and more hotels are now trying to get away with this.
Last week I was looking at hotels in Miami and trying to figure out where I should stay over the two nights that I’ll be in town and resort fees kept on appearing on my screen.
The biggest annoyance I had was that resort fees aren’t included in the room rates quoted despite the fact that there’s no reason they shouldn’t be – this makes comparing hotel prices tricky as not all properties levy these rip-offs on their guests.
The property that first started to get my blood pressure rising was Hyatt’s Confidante on Miami Beach.
When first looking at the property I didn’t notice the small note on the Hyatt rates page that should have alerted me to the extra charge….
…and the resort fees aren’t exactly immediately clear when Hyatt shows you the total cost of your stay:
It’s only because I wondered why I was being charged taxes and fees at a rate of 30% that I expanded the costs and saw the key driver:
For this particular stay the resort fees were equal to 16% of the nightly room rate….but what do you get for that?
There’s a small link on the rates page that reads “resort fee policy page” and you would expect that when you click on that link an explanation of the resort fees would be there in front of you…but it isn’t.
That link takes you to the hotel’s homepage (here) and you have to scroll half way down a good-sized page before you find what you’re looking for…..
….but blink and you’ll miss it!
Apparently guests at the Confidante Miami beach have to pay extra for the chairs the hotel provides by the pool and on the beach, they have to pay extra to use the hotel gym, and extra for a bike too.
Why is a beach-adjacent hotel with the word “beach” in its name charging guests for beach chairs? Why does this hotel get to charge for the use of the gym when its an accepted free amenity at most other properties? Why are guests being charged for a bicycle and helmet when, at a guess, most will probably never go near one of the hotel’s bikes?
This is just wrong.
If I thought that the Confidante Miami Beach was bad I was in for more annoyance with the W South Beach.
The W South Beach is another hotel that charges resort fees but you wouldn’t know it if you weren’t paying attention.
- There is no mention of resort fees (that I can see) on the hotel’s homepage
- The page showing the various rates on offer makes no mention of resort fees
- The “rate details” link opens up a window that makes no mention of resort fees
- The cost summary page makes no mention of resort fees – just general “taxes and fees”
- So you have to actively investigate what the charges are before you realise that you’re being charged resort fees of $35/night
Not only is the W South Beach charging resort fees surreptitiously but I can’t find any page on the hotel’s website that explains what exactly the $35/night is for.
Presumably such a page exists but the fact that I’ve searched and can’t find it goes some way to showing how opaque this hotel’s fees really are.
Amazingly it wasn’t the W South Beach that raised my blood pressure most as, just as I thought no other property could annoy me more, I opened up a booking for the JW Marriott Miami.
So far the two properties I’ve discussed are situated in the Miami Beach area and even though neither is really a resort I can see how they may make an argument to suggest that that’s what they really are….but there’s no viable argument for the JW Marriott Miami.
This property may be near water (most of Miami is) but it’s right in the middle of downtown Miami….
…..and even the images of the rooms make it clear that this is more a business hotel than any kind of resort:
Still, this hasn’t stopped the property from adding what it calls a “destination amenity fee” to its rates (even on award nights):
What’s more, the only explanation for this “destination amenity fee” that I’ve managed to find on the hotel website is this:
That’s it…I haven’t found any other mention.
Where do I start with this?
Firstly…….virtual bowling???? Really Marriott? You’re now forcing people to pay for video games they will probably never play? Pathetic.
Secondly, I’m pretty sure I remember reading that my Marriott elite status entitles me to enhanced internet access….oh look…..it does!
My Marriott Platinum Premier status entitles me to Marriott’s “fastest connection absolutely free” so why is it that, while I’m logged in to my Marriott account, this property is trying to charge me for an amenity that’s actually a benefit included in my elite status?
I’m not a big fan of government interference but as hotels and hotel chains clearly can’t be trusted not to rip consumers off and as these fees are rapidly becoming more common it’s time for legislation to put a halt to these fees.
These are charges that aren’t clearly defined, aren’t always obvious and are mostly for things that should already be included in the rate or that guests don’t want in the first place.
I’ve made a pledge to never stay at a property where I’m charged a resort fee/destination fee and, if more people follow suit, perhaps the hotels will eventually get the message….but I won’t hold my breath.
Featured image JW Marriott Miami courtesy of Marriott