Resort Fee Fatigue – How to avoid resort fees

Written by Travel Guide, Travel Tips

How to avoid resort fees

The daily grind of getting up early, going to work, and saving up for a vacation is something most people can relate to.

The mere thought of a vacation is enough to motivate even the most work weary among us, so when the time finally comes to retire or cash in those cherished vacation days for a well-deserved trip, the time and effort put in to work and career suddenly seems worthwhile.

Naturally, we want the best deal for our hard-earned money when making our vacation plans, but once you start adding up the airfare, a rental car, some tickets to a performance, sporting event or some landmark sites, the cost of a vacation begins to hit home – and that’s before you even think about accommodation.

These days, for anything more than a weekend trip away, the price of a hotel can easily become the most expensive component of a vacation. The average room rate in New York City is now $262.31, Miami $199.35, San Francisco $194.90 and Nasvhille $141.90.

Pool access is often citied as a 'resort fee' amenity.

Pool access is often citied as a ‘resort fee’ amenity.

But instead of hotels making their pricing more affordable, or at the very least, more transparent, the hotel and resort industry has only added to the pricing confusion, with something they like to call a ‘Resort Fee’ or ‘Convenience Fee’.  

What started out in the late 1990s as a pricing model for Las Vegas resorts and casinos, is now showing up at hotels in destinations all across the country – even for properties one wouldn’t consider a resort. 

WHAT IS A RESORT FEE AND WHAT DOES IT COVER?

A resort fee is an additional charge that is added to the advertised room rate and paid to the hotel directly on arrival. The fee is compulsory, meaning a guest must pay at time of check-in if they want their room key.

A hotel typically charges a resort fee for such things as swimming pool and gym access, the use of swimming pool towels, fax services, Wi-Fi, and complimentary newspaper. Beach resorts might even include beach access to the list of ‘benefits’ covered under the resort fee.

Imagine paying for a room at a beach resort, only to be told that an additional fee must be paid to access the beach! Or paying for a steak dinner at a restaurant, and then told a separate fee has to be paid up front for the use of your table and chair, and the silverware you use to eat your meal.    

Other ‘Resort Fee’ names include ‘Urban Fee’, ‘Destination Fee’ or ‘Convienance Fee’ 

In short, it’s a quick and easy revenue grab for the hotel and can be deceptive for consumers.  

Aware of the consumer push-back around resort fees, some hotels have started referring to them as an ‘Urban Fee’ or ‘Destination Fee’ instead.

While illegal to charge in many countries, unfortunately, US law does not require hotels to disclose resort fees in the initial phase of the booking process.

HOW TO GET AROUND PAYING A RESORT OR DESTINATION FEE?

Hotels should state upfront on their website, that an additional fee will be charged at check-in, although at times you may need a magnifying glass to find the statement. If there is a fee charged, consider another hotel.

If you want to check if a hotel charges a resort fee, the best way is by calling the hotel’s front desk and asking prior to making a booking. You can also check websites such as ResortFeeChecker.com who list hotels that charge a fee.

TIP: Some hotel managers have the discretion to remove the fee if you state that you won’t be using the services covered

Some hotel managers have the discretion to remove the fee if you state that you won’t be using the services covered. If that doesn’t work, you may be stuck paying the fee and taking the issue up later.

Few things spoil a holiday more than unexpected charges. The best way to not get taken in by added resort fees is to do your homework. Before you or your travel agent make any hotel or accommodation booking, always call or email the property directly and ask up front weather or not a resort or destination style fee will be added on top of your room rate.  

10 CITIES WHERE RESORT FEES ARE COMMON

Originating in Las Vegas in the late 90s, the Resort Fee due is often higher than your hotel room. Las Vegas has the highest number of hotels that charge the deceptive Resort Fee.

Originating in Las Vegas in the late 90s, the Resort Fee due is often higher than your hotel room. Las Vegas has the highest number of hotels that charge the deceptive Resort Fee.

According to the website ResortFeeChecker.com, the worse-offending destinations for resort fees at the end of 2018 are:

LAS VEGAS, NV
Average resort fee: $29/night

NEW YORK CITY, NY
Average resort fee: $28/night

OAHU, HA
Average resort fee: $25/night

MIAMI, FL
Average resort fee: $25/night

PHOENIX, AZ
Average resort fee: $24/night

FLORIDA KEYS, FL
Average resort fee: $24/night

SAN DIEGO, CA
Average resort fee: $22/night

FORT LAUDERDALE
Average resort fee: $19/night

ORLANDO, FL
Average resort fee: $14/night

MYRTLE BEACH, SC
Average resort fee: $13/night

And the worst offender in the United States we could find according to ResortFeeChecker.com is Fisher Island Club and Resort in Florida, who charge a whopping $160.50 per night (on top of their average nightly fee of over $1,000) – with part of that fee to access their onsite restaurants (where you still have to pay for your meal)!

The daily ‘Club Membership Fee’ includes:

  • access to South Florida’s most exclusive seaside golf country club,
  • racquet club,
  • casual and fine dining restaurants,
  • spa,
  • salon and wellness center,
  • marinas,
  • private beach club,
  • the Vanderbilt Mansion pool and
  • access to the club’s “exclusive member events.”

You can also read more about how to avoid resort fees at Kill Resort Fees website.

STORY BY: TODD STURM

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