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NY Times Article on Resort Fees

NY Times Article on Resort Fees

Old Mar 11, 06, 12:08 am
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NY Times Article on Resort Fees

The New York Times chimes in on the dreaded and hated resort fees.

PRACTICAL TRAVELER
Resort Fees: Hotel Rate May Not Include All the Charges
By CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT
With room prices and occupancy rates soaring, many hotels are again quietly imposing resort fees, unpopular surcharges that cover everything from the use of a pool to housekeeping tips.

With the decline in the lodging industry after 9/11, the fees, which cover everything from the use of a pool to housekeeping tips, began to vanish if not from hotels' policies, then from guests' bills. A polite complaint was usually all it took to have a fee waived.

No longer. With room prices and occupancy rates soaring, many hotels are again quietly imposing these unpopular surcharges. And this time, the industry has devised new strategies to make the extras stick. Hotel companies like RockResorts are improving the disclosure of the fees by adding notifications to their Web sites, sending prearrival e-mail messages to guests and alerting travel agents. They are offering detailed descriptions of what the charges cover. And increasingly, some are refusing to remove fees when a customer complains.
The rest of the article can be found here.
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Old Mar 11, 06, 6:57 am
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I went to Miami this past September and booked on Priceline. I had a decent bid accepted and was not told of the resort fee until I got there, late on a Friday night. I had not booked the "resort" category on Priceline, but was subjected to a 20 dollar or so fee per day. I cannot remember how much the fee was exactly, or what I paid for the room right now, but I remember the fee was like 30% of the cost of the room!

I protested, but the manager would do nothing. I mentioned that I thought it was just a way to falsely keep their rate low and that I was not told when I booked the room. They pulled out a Priceline printout that had something about resort fees in the fine print. I will definitely be more careful in the future and adjust my bids appropriately. I do feel they looked upon us differently since the reservation was through Priceline.

I like the line in the article where the manager says that including resort fees in the price of the room puts them at a competitive disadvantage. Kind of like cell phone companies giving you one price for service and then adding all sorts of taxes and surcharges to your bill. Or airlines with all their surcharges.

Last edited by fuzz; Mar 11, 06 at 8:15 am
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Old Mar 11, 06, 7:00 am
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I just stayed at The Palms in South Beach (Miami) and resort fees are alive and well- not as outrageous as what "fuzz" paid, but $11.67 on top of the quoted rate.

But the Wi-Fi was "free". Yeah.
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Old Mar 11, 06, 5:33 pm
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Weren't "resort fees" imposed originally by the local chamber of comerce or resort-city managers in order to pay for boardwalks, concerts, etc.? That's certainly the way it is today in Europe. How do U.S. hotels justify charging "resort fees" (I assume they don't have to turn them over to some organization or other)?
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Old Mar 11, 06, 5:47 pm
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Priceline's handling of resort fees has been a real irritant to many travelers. All they do is say that they might be imposed and are the guest's responsibility. They aren't included in the bid amount and aren't disclosed after a bid is accepted, so in that respect they are truly "hidden." It's very unfair to competing hotels that don't charge a fee because it allows those that do to accept bids at a lower bid price, even though the actual price the customer pays is more. If some hotels gain advantage through this kind of sleight of hand, it just pressures the "good" ones to reluctantly follow suit.

Priceline should grow a backbone and require that rates through Priceline include any MANDATORY extras so that all hotels are on an equal footing and there's some integrity in the rates accepted. Otherwise it'll just be a slippery slope of more hidden charges to where the bid price has no resemblance to the actual.
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Old Mar 11, 06, 5:55 pm
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Originally Posted by fuzz
I protested, but the manager would do nothing. I mentioned that I thought it was just a way to falsely keep their rate low and that I was not told when I booked the room. They pulled out a Priceline printout that had something about resort fees in the fine print. I will definitely be more careful in the future and adjust my bids appropriately. I do feel they looked upon us differently since the reservation was through Priceline.
I once has a $10/day "resort fee" at a 1-star inland motel in Key West booked through Priceline! The 2-stars didn't charge a resort fee but had $50 as the lowest reported bid accepted.

Priceline's language is the vaguest fig leaf possible; they just say they may be imposed and are the guest's responsibility. Right now your best hope if to comb through biddingfortravel.com and read the warnings on various places in various zones and adjust accordingly.

If Priceline gets a bad name for hotel rates that were significantly higher than the bids, then they deserve it. They and other sites could make hotels play fair (at least for customers of those sites) but so far haven't insisted on it.
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Old Mar 11, 06, 6:12 pm
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Thumbs down I don't like resort fees too!

I don't like resort fees!

I try to do my research through www.biddingfortravel & www.betterbidding before deciding to bid. Sometimes, one would get a hotel that no one has posted that would have resort fees. In my opinion one should be able to get a refund within 24 hrs if a hotel has high resort fees. I know it doesn't work that way.

I was thinking of bidding on a hotel in the Miami area. One hotel that comes up has a high resort fee. (like $20 or so). Since I will be traveling alone, I decided to stay in a nice hostel for not much more than the resort fee that hotel would charge. I will spend my $ in other areas.
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Old Mar 11, 06, 6:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Track
Weren't "resort fees" imposed originally by the local chamber of comerce or resort-city managers in order to pay for boardwalks, concerts, etc.? That's certainly the way it is today in Europe. How do U.S. hotels justify charging "resort fees" (I assume they don't have to turn them over to some organization or other)?
Not that I agree, but they justify it by saying the fees provide you with amenities you would not otherwise receive.
A couple of sample justifications are below:

Equinox
Resort Fee
There is a daily $20 resort fee payable per room. The daily resort fee is in addition to the room charges, as well as local and state taxes and it includes the following amenities:

* Incoming faxes and outgoing faxes up to 25 pages
* Wireless Internet access throughout all guestrooms and public areas
* Shuttle service into town and shopping areas
* Daily resort events. Please see the Concierge for details on today's events
* Access to 855 acres on the Equinox Trust. Hiking maps are available at the front desk
* Housekeeping gratuities and Valet Parking
* Use of resort snowshoes, Cross Country ski equipment and bicycles
* Weekend and Holiday Shuttle to Bromley and Stratton Ski Areas

Ritz-Carlton

RESORT FEE & BENEFITS
In addition to the room rate, a daily 10% resort fee will apply. The resort fee covers the following wide variety of additional services and activities provided for your enjoyment:

* Use of the fitness center at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, San Juan
* Access to 800# calls
* Local phone calls in the San Juan Metropolitan Area
* High-speed internet access in all guest rooms; wireless access in public areas, the pool and the beach
* Beach chairs, towels and umbrellas
* Use of the tennis courts
* Use of non-motorized water sports
* Snorkeling equipment
* Fitness and snorkeling classes
* SCUBA Demonstrations at The Pool from Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Parents may enjoy this activity with their children ages 10 and up.

* Water sports events and fitness classes are subject to weather permitting conditions and based upon availability at time of request.
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