How do you know the feeling when you book a room for less than $100 and it suddenly goes up to $150? This is partly due to taxes, but a large chunk of it is likely due to resort fees.
There are some hotels that have more offensive resort fees than others. While they tend to range between $20 and $50 for hotels that charge them, their prices can vary greatly depending on how much you pay (especially if it is a percentage of your overall trip cost).
This is a detailed explanation of resort fees, how they work and what they cost. It also includes insider tips on how to avoid these fees. A ranking of brands that have the highest resort fees.
Why are resort fees so irritating
Also known as amenity fees (destination fees), facility fees, or resort fees, these semi-hidden charges are becoming more common.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, resort fees were first discovered in 1997. Customers began complaining quickly, and the FTC sent 22 warnings to hotels in 2012 about resort fees not being adequately disclosed on their websites. Although resorts have made improvements to the way they disclose resort fees in recent years, there are still many complaints.
This is due to the actual fees. In the past, resort fees were used to cover the cost of luxury amenities that came with the room. These fees are being added to rooms that are not resort-like.
The resort fees make up a large portion of your vacation budget
NerdWallet has analyzed over 100 hotels in the U.S. for January 2023 checkin dates. The average resort fee charged by hotels was $42.41. The average resort fee was 11% of the total cost of a hotel night, compared to the room rate.
Resort fees, especially in lower-cost hotels can make up a larger portion of your lodging costs than other expenses. For example, take the DoubleTree Hotel Alana at Waikiki Beach. On the first booking page, you will be offered a 1-night stay in October 2023 at $235. Then, you are hit with $49 more in taxes and $35 resort fees. Your total cost will be about $320. This is a 35% increase on the price you were given. Depending on the room price, resort fees may be more than 35% of the room rate. Sometimes combined taxes and fees could even exceed the room rate ).
On certain weeknights in September 2023, Excalibur Las Vegas costs $35 per person. You’ll pay about $5 in taxes and $35 in resort fees, making what appeared to be a $35 room more than twice as expensive.
The resort fees include bizarre expenses
Some hotels do charge resort fees, but they are worth it. Hyatt’s Andaz Maui, Hawaii, charges a $48 resort fee. This includes a welcome basket with local snacks, including Maui Brewing Co. root beers, guava juice, macadamia nuts and snorkel equipment. There are also free lessons in ukulele and stand-up paddleboarding, hula and cocktail making. You also get free outrigger paddleboarding and other benefits. The $50 resort fee at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, California includes fitness classes and tennis racket rentals, as well as electric bike rentals and guided hiking trips.
However, at many hotels resort fees cover additionals that are not really extras.
The $35 daily fee at the Excalibur Las Vegas includes Wi-Fi access and gym use (even though many non-resort hotels offer Wi-Fi usage for free). Unlimited calls are also included in the room. It also covers printing of boarding passes ).
Reservation fees are obligatory
You can’t refuse to pay the resort fee even if you have never used the hotel gym.
There is no easy way to avoid resort fees, unlike baggage fees charged by airlines. These fees are added at the last step of checkout.
Why are hotels charging fees?
There are a few reasons hotels charge fees. A lower base rate may pique the interest of a customer in a hotel they haven’t considered. The resort fee is charged by hotels to make up for the difference in revenue.
It’s more than getting customers to the door. Some hotels claim resort fees enable them to lower the commissions paid online travel agents. A hotel that promises to pay 5% of the base rate to agents would be responsible for $5 per night for a $100 room. The hotel would get the same amount if the room was $50, plus $50 resort fees, but the agent would only receive $2.50.
Even the U.S. government admits that resort fees are not good.
According to a 2017 FTC report, “Studies of drip pricing or partitioned pricing suggest the seperation of mandatory resort fees and posted room rates without first disclosing their total price is likely to hurt consumers.”
According to the report, “forcing customers to click through additional pages to see a resort fee at a hotel” is a complex extra step that makes it more difficult or worse for consumers and may lead to them making a poor decision that could result in a room that’s more expensive.
How to Avoid Resort Fees
Avoiding resort fees on rooms that have them is difficult.
Book resort accommodations with hotel points (at certain brands) or with the elite status
Some resorts charge resort fees even though you are booking rooms using points. These fees must be paid in cash along with the points rate. Reserving award rooms at Hilton Honors or World of Hyatt will not incur resort fees. It’s a win-win situation because you won’t have to pay cash for the room or any annoying fees.
Most elite hotel programs don’t charge resort fees for their most loyal members. Globalist members of Hyatt don’t have to pay resort fees. This is the highest level of the program. This perk is very valuable because Hyatt charges the most expensive fees in the industry. However, many travelers don’t have the luxury of being able to afford it span>
Use travel statement credits
Statement credits are available for travel credit cards that can cover all aspects of travel. You can request reimbursement if you charge a covered expense to your card. This could include flights, camping fees, and ferries. You will usually be reimbursed resort fees under the travel credit.
Capital One Venture X Rewards credit card offers $300 annually in statement credits for bookings made through Capital One Travel. Chase Sapphire Reserve(r), on the other hand, offers $300 in statement credits to reimburse travel purchases that are charged to your card each year. In general, resort fees are eligible.
Tell your story
Sometimes, asking employees to waive fees may work. The employee may be able to waive your resort fees. However, you cannot refuse to pay them.
This is an exception and not the norm. It’s okay to ask questions, but it is better to be polite.
Hotels with the lowest and most expensive resort fees
NerdWallet did a detailed analysis of six major hotel brands in order to identify which hotels charged the highest resort fees. This data focused on hotels in major cities and places where resort fees are most common, such as Las Vegas, Florida, and Orlando in Florida. This data is part of NerdWallet’s Best-Of Awards 2023.
Wyndham properties had higher average resort fees than room rates. Hyatt was second for the worst resort fees.
Although technically Best Western was the lowest resort fee, it’s not surprising considering its lack of resort amenities. Marriott was the second-lowest resort fee percentage, but it is the winner due to its more resort-like amenities.
Our analysis revealed that the average resort fee, including those charged by non-resorts, is $10.40 and the median is $40. The average resort fee for hotels that charge them is $42.41.
These fees are somewhat related to the room cost so winners were determined based on the resort fees as a percentage. A $35 resort fee for a hotel room that costs $1,000 per night is not a lot. $35 resort fee for a $30 per-night rate is too high.
Wyndham is the hotel brand that charges the most resort fees.
Wyndham’s average resort fees are 6.5% of the overall room rate. This makes it the brand with the highest resort fees among all the brands analyzed by NerdWallet.
Wyndham resort fees usually run between $30 to $50 per night. Wyndham’s low score is due to its high resort fees relative to room rates.
Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino is a One Wyndham property. It often offers the lowest nightly rates among all Las Vegas resorts. NerdWallet found that the $40 resort fee accounted for 30% of the total cost, despite the low nightly rates. Resort fees at Wyndham hotels (and other Wyndham properties) are difficult to find. They are often not easily visible until the checkout page.
Hyatt is another big resort fee offender
The average resort fee at Hyatt is 5.4% of the total room rate. This average rate includes properties that don’t usually charge resort fees, such as the Hyatt Place and the budget-minded Hyatt House brands.
Hyatt was particularly criticized by Miraval, a brand that is not in the top 1%. Miraval is an all-inclusive, ultra-luxury resort that doesn’t charge any fees for transportation, meals, drinks, classes, or other amenities. Even tips are not accepted by the employees. The nightly rate for a room is usually more than $1,000, and sometimes even higher.
Miraval’s resort fee is 23% lower than the overall rate. This makes Miraval unique. Miraval’s resort fees are $1,000 per night. This is a difference from other resorts that charge per person. Couples will pay more than $500 per room in resort fees. Miraval will charge you over $3,000.
The average resort fee was higher at Hyatt properties that are more accessible than the overall average. The average resort fee charged by Hyatt properties was $50.40. This is higher than the $42.41 average.
NerdWallet’s analysis assumes that Hyatt hotels will not charge resort fees. However, it is possible for a Hyatt hotel to charge more than a nearby Hyatt hotel. This is a great place to start when searching for hotels with lower or moderate resort fees.
Marriott is the hotel brand that charges the most for resort fees.
Contrary to Hyatt’s expensive fees, resort fees are less common at Marriott properties — even fancy brands like JW Marriott. NerdWallet found that the average resort fee for all Marriott hotels was only 2.81%. This is second to Best Western’s low resort fees, but also means that they often lack resort style amenities span>
Marriott committed in 2021 to being transparent and upfront about the mandatory fees that are included in the hotel’s total price. This means that the total cost of your hotel stay including all mandatory fees appears on the first page. It is not hidden after you click through many buttons only to discover you have been charged a resort fee at checkout.
Avoid paying a resort fee
The best way to avoid paying resort fees at hotels is to simply not stay in them. The American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates that about 6% of hotels have resort fees. These are properties with more amenities than other lodging options.
The majority of hotels in tourist hot spots like Las Vegas or Hawaii will charge these fees, but you can search for gems .
You might consider staying at Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore in Hawaii. Here you will have access to all the standard amenities such as Wi-Fi and a gym, and you can also enjoy ukulele lessons and hula classes.
Targeting hotels brands that charge less frequently resort fees is a good place to start.
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