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Are "Resort Fees" legal? (A discussion about Starwood's use of 'Resort Fees')

Are "Resort Fees" legal? (A discussion about Starwood's use of 'Resort Fees')

 
Old May 23, 09, 5:01 pm
  #1  
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Are "Resort Fees" legal? (A discussion about Starwood's use of 'Resort Fees')

Just booked at stay for St. Regis Monarch Beach this summer and noticed they now charge $25.00 extra - for absolutely nothing more! Nice. Staying this weekend at La Quinta where the fee is $27.00! At least it's waived as part of the package.

My resort fees at the Sheraton Maui for five days were $125!

Question: Since the fee is mandatory, why isn't it just included in the rate? It seems really deceptive and borderline unethical. Any answers out there? I know Hilton settled a case (at La Quinta) a few years back, but that was because they didn't disclose the fees upfront.

Comments?
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Old May 23, 09, 5:11 pm
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Originally Posted by manku View Post
Question: Since the fee is mandatory, why isn't it just included in the rate? It seems really deceptive and borderline unethical. Any answers out there? I know Hilton settled a case (at La Quinta) a few years back, but that was because they didn't disclose the fees upfront.

Comments?
Don't get us started on resort fees! I find them excessive and egregious. I wish they were illegal as well, but certainly an entrepreneurial trail lawyer would have already filed a class action suit. Although generally opposed to such suits, I might actually not opt out of one for resort fees.

The hotels don't include resort fees in the rates for the same reason airlines don't include fuel surcharges in the fares: for purposes of advertising deceptively low rates. At least one can avoid minibar charges and baggage fees by declining the services.

If anyone has found a way to avoid resort fees, please share!

My most recent encounter at the Sheraton Carlsbad left a bad taste in my mouth. Although the property charged only $12, they didn't offer much more than a pool and gym, which almost all Sheratons have anyway.
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Old May 23, 09, 6:02 pm
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If the fees are properly disclosed upfront, there is probably nothing illegal about them. They are pure gravy, and screw the travel agent who might have booked it out of his share of what otherwise would been commissionable room rate, the guest (depending on the program) out of points for the fee (where a room charge might have earned them), and really put a bitter taste in the guest's mouth. Unlike an airline, where you don't have to eat, and you don't have to check a bag, at a hotel WHERE YOU CAN'T OPT OUT, it matters not that all you did is sleep and use the toilet. You were forced to pay for "unlimited gym and free local calls" as well as being able to dip your foot in the pool and dry it off.
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Old May 23, 09, 8:27 pm
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Originally Posted by Eastbay1K View Post
They are pure gravy, and screw the travel agent who might have booked it out of his share of what otherwise would been commissionable room rate, the guest (depending on the program) out of points for the fee (where a room charge might have earned them), and really put a bitter taste in the guest's mouth.

You were forced to pay for "unlimited gym and free local calls" as well as being able to dip your foot in the pool and dry it off.
I don't find that you show bitterness or resent the resort fees. Do you have objections to resort fees other than that they border on coercion and theft?

If electricity rates go up this summer, I can't wait for the return of energy surcharges.

Last edited by Totoro; May 23, 09 at 8:33 pm
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Old May 23, 09, 10:31 pm
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Energy Surcharge

If you like paying energy surcharges, just rent a car from Hertz next time on your way to the Sheraton. Each Hertz rental now includes a $1.03 energy surcharge.
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Old May 24, 09, 5:38 pm
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Pretty sure their legal dpts scrutinized it closely before rolling them out. I hate the entire concept, and try to avoid hotels that charge it, fully agree they should just build it into their rates. Planet Hollywood charges $4.99 a day I believe, and i would hesitate to call it a resort...and why not make it $5.00 even...not like there is any choice to pay it.

Also, why does it have to be per day? Would make more sense if it was a fee per stay.
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Old May 24, 09, 7:59 pm
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They don't build it into their rates because of what was mentioned about being able to advertise low rates and this way they still manage to make money on award reservations.

I fully agree, if it's a "mandatory" fee, then it should be included in the room rate. It's like charging a "bed fee". It's a horrible practice that hotels created as a way to milk consumers for more money.
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Old May 24, 09, 8:12 pm
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I take the position that the "resort fees" are my gratuities while i am at the property, i explain to everyone i encounter that I would tip but I already paid the resort fee. It bothers the sh*t out of them and I am sure i get worse service out of it, but it helps me swallow these fees.
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Old May 24, 09, 9:27 pm
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Originally Posted by manku View Post
Question: Since the fee is mandatory, why isn't it just included in the rate? It seems really deceptive and borderline unethical. Any answers out there? I know Hilton settled a case (at La Quinta) a few years back, but that was because they didn't disclose the fees upfront.

Comments?
Hi manku,

May I know if you have made your reservation through our branded websites or CCC?

I will avoid commenting on the necessity of a resort fee but the associate whom you might have spoken to over the phone should advise you on the resort fee. Similarly for a booking via our branded websites, it should be indicated clearly on any extra charges or taxes that are applicable.

The fees and taxes should be indicated separately so that before members proceed to make a reservation, they know what they will be paying for.

[email protected]

Thyetus Lee | Online Forum Coordinator(AP)
Starwood Customer Contact Centre (AP) Pte Ltd
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Old May 25, 09, 8:10 pm
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Clearly, they are legal...but they are irritating. Many properties will take them off your bill if you mention that you did not make use of the "resort" services.

Certain properties explain the charge upon arrival which makes it impossible to dispute it upon departure.

This is another thing which sways me to book properties which do NOT have such a fee. It should be built into the room rate.

One exception--Westin La Paloma. After some years as a repeat guest, I am nearly always prebooked into a suite, and I am willing to pay the nominal resort fee to enjoy this benefit.
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Old May 25, 09, 8:58 pm
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Originally Posted by dankyone View Post
One exception--Westin La Paloma. After some years as a repeat guest, I am nearly always prebooked into a suite, and I am willing to pay the nominal resort fee to enjoy this benefit.
When La Paloma first introduced their resort fee, it was not subject to sales tax, which was their spin as to why they did not include it in the room rate. However, within a year or so of implementing the fee, it became subject to sales tax.
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Old May 25, 09, 9:10 pm
  #12  
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I wonder if charging resort fee is a good strategy on paper or from an accounting perspective but in reality, it may deter many guests from booking with the hotel and thereby, lower the occupany rate. Unless the said hotel, uh..."resort", are close to 100% occupancy, which many of them aren't right now and far from it (e.g. those two SPG properties in Las Vegas strip), I would question the choice of charging a resort fee.

This just seems like a rather strange tactic and it makes me wonder just how much business sense this makes and whether the hotel management conducted proper analysis on this decision. BTW, Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas which I recently stayed charged resort fees. Although I didn't have to pay for it due to the VIP Weekend Package, I have to say, if I have to pay for it, even if it's only $5, I wouldn't have been happy because absolutely nothing comes free with that fee. Sure, a few bottles of water, big deal. For example, the gym wasn't even free. It costs $25 per visit, just to use treadmill or some weights. What I ended up doing instead, was running up and down the Las Vegas strip for my workout instead since it was only two days anyway.

If you are going to charge "resort fee", make sure there is some value to it. Free use of the gym on-site should be a basic requirement. I have been to hotels where there was no resort fee and no gym on-site that the hotel pays to have guests getting access at a nearby 3rd party gym. Suffice to say, all SPG properties with resort fee should be singled out and blacklist.

Maybe we should compile a blacklist of SPG hotels and make it clear to everyone here that these properties are to be avoided - that may get some people's attention.
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Old May 26, 09, 7:21 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Starwood Lurker II View Post
Hi manku,

May I know if you have made your reservation through our branded websites or CCC?

I will avoid commenting on the necessity of a resort fee but the associate whom you might have spoken to over the phone should advise you on the resort fee. Similarly for a booking via our branded websites, it should be indicated clearly on any extra charges or taxes that are applicable.

The fees and taxes should be indicated separately so that before members proceed to make a reservation, they know what they will be paying for.

[email protected]

Thyetus Lee | Online Forum Coordinator(AP)
Starwood Customer Contact Centre (AP) Pte Ltd
I booked online, redeeming points. I did not notice the charge until reading a post on the St. Regis that mentioned the fee.

$27 for parking, $25 for resort fee...doesn't make me really want to go anymore.
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Old May 27, 09, 9:39 pm
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Lawsuit

I'm on the road tonight and don't have the info, but there was a class action law suit v. specific Starwood properties and I was given credit for the resort fees that were not clearly disclosed at many properties.

I received a dozen dollars in credit for the resort fees. I don't have the case info (any lawyers out there who can beat CheapElite to search but I did appreciate the few dollars back.

-- CaptainG
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Old May 27, 09, 9:54 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by CaptainG View Post
I don't have the case info (any lawyers out there who can beat CheapElite to search
There are several.
http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/case/starwood.html
http://www.viamagazine.com/top_stori...ort_fees02.asp
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the...tfee_rage.html
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