Resort Fees: The Hotel Equivalent of Fuel Surcharges

Resort Fees: The Hotel Equivalent of Fuel SurchargesMany frequent flyers will be familiar with the scourge of the airline industry that is fuel and carrier surcharges. These are arbitrary surcharges that many airlines add to the cost of a flight in the same way as they add genuine government taxes and airport charges.

Sadly, the hotel industry has started to adopt a similar practice. “Resort fees”, as they’re known, are now particularly common in North America. And they’re a total rip-off.

What is a resort fee?

Some hotels claim that their resort fees cover the use of facilities such as the swimming pool, shuttle services, gym or valet parking. The charges originated in luxury resorts that actually offered services worth paying extra for, but the concept has even now been adopted by budget hotels in the United States.

The problem is that resort fees are not included in the advertised price and guests are often unaware that there is even a charge until they get to the hotel. The whole point of resort fees is that customers won’t see the charge up-front (otherwise it would just be included in the price), and in that sense they are inherently deceptive.

Some hotels are even now adding “resort fees” on top of the cost of hotel reward nights booked using points – in the same way that airlines add fuel surcharges to the cost of airline award tickets. This devalues hotel loyalty programs.

Thankfully, these kinds of surcharges are illegal in many countries. In Australia, this would probably be considered drip pricing if the fee was not included up-front in the advertised price. But they are becoming increasingly common in North America.

The actual fee amounts vary from hotel to hotel, but are typically between $20-40 per night. Some hotels charge a flat fee per stay. An easy way to find out whether a hotel charges a resort fee – and if so, how much it is – is to search on ResortFeeChecker.com.

Some travellers have reported success getting the resort fee waived by asking at the hotel reception and saying that they aren’t planning to use any of the services included in the resort fee. But some hotels have started to include the use of basic features of the room, such as the safe or even the bathtub, as part of the resort fee. We even found hotels in the United States that add a $30/night charge which only covers access to the internet.

Some booking websites mislead in relation to resort fees

It’s bad enough that hotels add these charges in the first place. But an AFF member has uncovered an example of a website that doesn’t even inform its customers of the charges until after the booking is completed.

According to albatross710, Agoda advertised a rate for a hotel in Las Vegas as inclusive of hotel tax, service fees and a resort fee. But when the confirmation email arrived, this member was informed that the hotel would also collect a $317.50 resort fee which had not been included in the advertised price.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Agoda : What’s your experience when they mislead?

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]