Hotel resort fees, hidden charges bemoaned by travelers, are climbing higher than ever

fee, charge, extra, payment, cost, over, more

Tamara Myers thought that her hotel bill at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino would come to $415. At least that’s what Otel.com, the website through which she booked the room, promised her.

But the site glossed over a small detail: a mandatory daily “resort fee” payable at checkout, which added $306 to the folio.

Gotcha.

“I did my due diligence,” insists Myers, who lives in Indianapolis and works for the military. She’d made the reservation for her 88-year-old mother, who was caring for her brother in Las Vegas. “The fee was listed nowhere on Otel.com.”

Mandatory resort fees, tacked onto a hotel bill after an initial price quote — and sometimes even later, as with Myers — are on the rise again. A total of 1,026 domestic hotels charged a resort fee for the first half of 2017, a 14 percent increase from just six months ago, according to new research from Resortfeechecker.com, a site that allows travelers to look up resort fees at hotels worldwide. The average resort fee, which covers everything from “free” WiFi to access to exercise facilities, now stands at almost $21, a jump of 8.7 percent from last December.

The biggest increases came in large metropolitan cities, including New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where resort fees are up by a whopping 70 percent in six months. “Until recently, most hotels in these cities didn’t charge a fee,” says Randy Greencorn, publisher of Resortfeechecker.com.

No wonder, then, that frustration with resort fees is reaching a boiling point. They’re difficult to fight once they’ve been added to a bill. Government action on the fees, once thought to be inevitable, has stalled.

Resort fees are classic travel industry sleight-of-hand — you’re quoted one price, you pay another — yet for now they remain perfectly legal. How so? Hotels are only required to disclose the fee before the booking is made, but not when the initial price quote is made. The Westgate’s site warns that a resort fee of $29.95 plus tax a night “may” apply. A search for a weekly room rate in August shows a price of $781 for a standard “Signature” room. The next screen downplays the final room rate, which, after taxes and resort fees, comes to $1,192, a 53 percent increase. You have to click an arrow to get a price breakdown.

Otel.com shows an asterisk and refers to resort fees under “Hotel Information” on its booking page. “Some hotels do charge a resort fee which must be paid to the hotel directly,” it warns. “Otel.com is not responsible for resort fee charges and has no control over their implementation.”

A Westgate representative said that the hotel does not contract directly with Otel.com. “All of our direct booking partners and our corporate websites clearly mark the presence of our resort fee, consistent with nearly every other major resort in Las Vegas,” said Jeff Klein, a resort spokesman. Klein says it has contacted Otel.com and asked it to “make this right with the customer.” I did, too, but received no response.

That’s how it goes with most attempts to claw back a resort fee. Apparently, hotels and their intermediaries feel as if asterisks and hard-to-find disclosures are adequate, and they are interpreting the government’s silence on the matter as a tacit endorsement of their practices.

Only a few months ago, resort fees were headed for extinction. The Federal Trade Commission signaled that the fees as they are currently advertised by most hotels were “unfair and deceptive.” The agency was poised to announce a policy shift that would require resort fees to be included in the initial price quote, according to multiple sources.

But after the presidential election, the federal government cooled on further regulating the hotel industry. A national investigation of resort fees, led by the attorney general for the District with participation of 46 state attorneys general, is underway. In June, the D.C. attorney general sent a subpoena to Marriott, requiring it to produce documents related to its investigation into whether its practice of charging “undisclosed or poorly disclosed” resort fees violates the District’s consumer protection laws.

Marriott says it “fully” discloses resort fees to consumers before they complete their booking on any of its direct channels. “We have been cooperating with the District of Columbia’s request for information in accordance with their investigation into industry resort fee disclosure practices,” says John Wolf, a spokesman for Marriott.

But until a state, the FTC or a court declares these fees illegal, they’re bound to continue multiplying, industry observers say. It’s a source of frustration for travelers and embarrassment for tourism officials. I contacted representatives in the top three cities for resort fees — Orlando, Miami and Las Vegas — after the Resortfeechecker.com data was released. Officials in Orlando and Las Vegas declined to comment, and Miami did not respond.

There are a few quick fixes. The first is obvious: Review the fine print, especially if you’re booking through a third party. Discount hotel sites may intentionally conceal resort fees, or they may not have access to the most current resort fee information from the property. You owe it to yourself to check with the hotel before you make your reservation.

In some cases, resort fees can be avoided by joining hotel loyalty programs, Greencorn says. “Sign-up takes only a couple of minutes and can be done online. Before booking, travelers should check with their hotel directly to see if they provide this benefit to its members.”

These are only stopgap measures, but they should help you avoid unpleasant surprises until the long arm of the law catches up with hotels that charge resort fees. It’s only a matter of time.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend