The Andaz Maui Resort at Wailea, a Hyatt resort, is more than just a place to rest. It’s located on 15 acres of beachfront in Hawaii. Multiple pools are available, including a lagoon as well as three infinity pools. You can take a stand up paddleboarding course and use the resort’s snorkel equipment.

Although it is all advertised as complimentary, it’s not really. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, Andaz Maui represents 6% of all hotels that have resort fees. These fees range from $20 to $50 per night and have become a controversial issue in the travel industry.

NerdWallet reviewed more than 100 U.S. hotel rooms with January 2023 check in dates to determine which hotels charge the highest and lowest fees. The average resort fee charged by the hotels was $42.41, which is almost 11% of the total nightly cost. Andaz Maui charges $50 per day plus tax. This is higher than the average. Based on December 2022 data, Andaz Maui’s nightly rate is also higher than average. However, the fee represents about 6% of the total nightly cost for a stay in January 2023.

The Andaz fee, like many other resorts that charge such fees is not optional.

The case of resort fees

Resort fees can be used by hotels to increase their profits, but not necessarily charge more.

According to a 2017 Federal Trade Commission Report, hotels claim that resort fees enable them to lower commissions to online travel agents.

Many resorts pay travel agents a commission on the nightly rate and not the total cost. The resort’s cost to referrers will be reduced by a lower nightly rate and resort fees.

Some resorts go above and beyond to provide amenities which makes the resort fees seem more reasonable. Hyatt’s Alila Napa Valley, Northern California wine country, charges a $55 per night fee plus tax. This includes wine and valet parking as well as the use of electric vehicles charging stations and bikes. The $50 fee to the Ritz-Carlton Santa Barbara, California includes amenities such as yoga and water aerobics, electric bike rentals and guided beach walks.

Brittain Kmoda, Andaz Maui’s marketing manager, believes that splitting fees could encourage vacationers learn more about the amenities and use them.

Komoda explains, “We offer cultural activities, water activities and other classes.” We want our guests to have the opportunity to experience them, and to learn about their costs .”

The Andaz Maui outrigger paddle tour at Wailea. Photo courtesy Hyatt

Komoda states that it is possible for a tourist to pay a resort fee in order to use an outrigger boat. This activity could be their highlight of vacation, making them a better tourist.

Even if you buy a small portion of the Andaz Maui a la carte offerings, it will likely cost more than the $50 daily resort fees. This is per room and not per person, Komoda states. Renting a GoPro at a Wailea surf shop costs $40 per day and renting full-face snorkel masks is $17 per person. Stand-up paddleboarding lessons in Maui cost between $150 and $180 per adult.

Komoda states that their goal is to provide immersive experiences for both new and returning guests.

The case against resort charges

Some hotels charge resort fees to cover basic amenities like Wi-Fi and use of the room telephone.

Travelers who book expensive rooms may feel confused and stingy by the mandatory fee to cover “complimentary” perks. 22 hotels were warned by the FTC in 2012 that resort fees weren’t clearly disclosed on their websites.

Transparency regarding resort fees has improved. Marriott has committed, starting in November 2021 to display the total price of the hotel (including room rates) on its first page.

However, at other resorts where there are separate room rates and fees, it can be hard to calculate the total cost.

According to the 2017 FTC Report, “If resort fees were included with the room rate consumers could easily compare rooms at different hotels simply by viewing the hotel pages on the website.” Consumers would have to add the resort fee to the room rate and keep track of the total for each hotel under consideration .”

Dave Betham is the general manager of Courtyard Oahu North Shore, Hawaii . He says that this property, which provides complimentary amenities and cultural activities, including ukulele lessons, will not charge resort fees.

Betham states, “We see it from a guest’s perspective.” “We like the idea of no surprises .”

This article is by NerdWallet. It was originally published in The Associated Press.

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