Are hidden hotel fees about to check out?

After Jane Hatch selected the room rate she wanted at the West Street Hotel in Bar Harbor, Maine, the hotel Web site delivered an unpleasant surprise on the next screen: The quoted price hadn’t included a $25-per-day “resort and club fee” that gave Hatch access to the hotel pool, hot tub and fitness center — whether she wanted it or not.

“They didn’t tell me until the end,” says Hatch, who lives in Montgomery Village, Md. “I still booked the room, but it was misleading and unbecoming, particularly for a new property looking to make its mark. Perhaps they don’t care in resort areas like Bar Harbor. But I care.”
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Socked with a $450 resort fee — is that fair?

You owe more for your room, baby! / Photo by imaqine – Flickr

Resort fees fall under the category of “nuisance” surcharges because they’re usually so insignificant that they’re not worth fighting. And travel companies know it, which is one reason they keep piling ’em on.

But what happens when these extras rise to the level of a major expenditure?
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Hey, where did this resort fee come from?

Question: I checked into the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, and was unexpectedly charged a resort fee. I had booked the stay with my Starwood Preferred Guest points.

The desk staff could not have been less helpful when I questioned the fee. They advised, “It is mandatory on all rooms, whether paid with cash or points, and clearly indicated during booking.”

They also said the resort fee was required by Florida state law.
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Playing the media card in a resort fee dispute

When Dennis Kavanagh booked two nights by phone at the Resort at Squaw Creek in Squaw Valley, Calif., the agent quoted him a rate that didn’t include a small surprise: a $16-a-day “resort fee” that covered “free” local calls, a newspaper delivery, in-room coffee and teas, Internet access and use of the health club.

The fee is clearly but not prominently disclosed on the hotel’s site, but for some reason, the hotel reservation agent didn’t say a word about it. That turned out to be a big mistake.
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Yes, you can fight a resort fee — and win

Mandatory resort fees have been annoying hotel guests for almost as long as I’ve been covering the hotel industry, which is to say, a long time. But how do you persuade a property to remove these unwanted extras from your bill?

In the past, simply asking to have the additional $10 or $20 a night stricken from your bill was enough. Not anymore. Now, your friendly hotel clerk is far likelier to take a hard line when you’re checking out.
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