You just stayed at a really beautiful hotel or resort and had a relaxed time during your stay. But shock sets in when you decide to check out. Suddenly you notice a list of fees tacked onto your bill that you were not aware of and did not notice them at the time of your booking. These were not part of the room rate shown that was both attractive and affordable.
Resort fee, WiFi fee, Parking fee, Safe fee were all added to your total room charges adding another $350 to your bill. You protest to the attendant helping you but to no avail. The attendant simply shows you your reservation you had made listing the charges down in the fine print, which you subtly agreed to when you hit the “book it button.”
These added fees have grown like a cancer and have become commonplace in the hotel business to many hotel chains and resorts. The practice is called “drip pricing” and has been commonplace for years, netting the hotel industry billions of dollars per year.
Hotel chains have quietly and systematically added on charges whether you use those amenities are not. Once again it has been left up to the consumer to be aware of what they are purchasing and be diligent for not paying what they don’t use. In July 2019 Washington, D.C.’s attorney general sued Marriott International, and Nebraska’s attorney general sued Hilton, both alleging deceptive pricing on the part of the two hotel giants.
Just as the airlines have schemed their way into charging you extra fees when you fly, the hotel business has followed suit and started tacking on charges you neither want, asked for or used during your stay.
The concept of charging a resort fee was started at two Caribbean resorts back in 1993. Now resort fees have spread, with many hotels, not only in resort locations but also urban areas and even smaller city hotels are charging such fees.
In 2010, fees and surcharges pulled in $1.7 billion. In 2018 total hotel fees and surcharges, including resort fees, raked in $2.9 billion. 2018 was the year of widespread introduction of the fees in the urban market. The number of hotels charging such fees in urban areas soared 400 percent from 2017 to 2018.
So what are some of these fees that hotels/resorts are charging their guests & how do you eliminate these costly fees from your final bill? Let’s take a closer look:
Resort fees may be one of the sneakiest and the #1 way that hotels trick customers into paying more. In the past, resort fees were exclusively charged by actual resorts in order to help maintain expensive facilities like fitness centers, golf courses and tennis courts. But now, even budget hotels are adding the charge onto their bills to cover basic (and sometimes unnecessary) services such as Wi-Fi, newspapers, phone calls, and faxes. The fee may only add up to a couple bucks per night or as much as $65 per night.
Driving to your destination means you have to park your car. At a hotel/resort facility it could come with a high price. Most hotels charge anywhere from $10 to $30 per night to park your car. Some hotels in major cities offer valet-only parking, which can cost upwards of $75 a night. Then there are the sneaky hotels that charge all their guests an automatic parking fee whether or not they parked their car there.
I don’t know of many travelers that don’t take their cell phone, laptop or iPad with them when they travel. But staying connected, either for business or personal reasons, can come with a high price tag. Many hotels offer complimentary Wi-Fi, but there are plenty of popular chains and luxury hotels still charge up to $20 a night.
Early Check-In/Early Check-Out Fee
So you get to your hotel early and ask if your room is ready, the attendant says yes and you check in for your stay. Checking in to a hotel room before the agreed-upon time, even if the room is ready, could land you with a fee up to $50. Checking out earlier than planned can also rack up even more fees. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to end your scheduled hotel stay a day early, you may be asked to pay between $50 and the cost of a full night.
The Extra Guest Fee
Kids can usually get away with staying without the extra charge. But if you plan on sneaking in another person without telling the hotel, this could land you with an extra charge of between $20-$50 per night if you get caught.
The Pet Fee
Fortunately there are plenty of hotels out there that try to appeal to pet owners by waiving any extra fees on a pet staying in your room. Some hotels even offer pet beds and treats. But if you plan on taking along man’s best friend or any other pet, some hotels ask customers to fork over a flat “cleaning” fee of $50 to $100 even if their pet didn’t make a mess. Other hotels charge on a nightly basis, usually between $10 and $25.
Mini Bar & Snack Fee
Most travelers know that the beverages in mini-bars are pricey and many avoid them for that reason. You don’t have to consume them to see a charge on your bill, though. Simply moving an item in the mini-bar can result in a charge because everything in that refrigerator is on a sensor. Also watch out for those complimentary-looking bottles of water or baskets of snacks in the room, they probably aren’t free.
Telephone Surcharge Fee
Don’t pick up the phone in your hotel room for any reason other than to call the front desk. Not only do hotels charge for long-distance calls, but also they often make you pay for local calls.
Safes are one of those hotel room staples that many guests rarely use. Regardless of whether you touched your safe between check-in and check-out, some hotels may charge you just for being in the same room with one. Many larger hotels will charge by the day, while at some budget hotels this fee can come out to about $1.50, just small enough to go under your radar when the bill is calculated.
Coffee-Tea Maker Fees
So many hotels large and small now provide a coffee-tea maker with several packs of each ready to use. You may think that complimentary coffee first thing in the morning is the very least a hotel can offer, but even that can have a hidden cost. Some hotels have started charging guests a few extra dollars just for using the coffee makers in their rooms. If you read the fine print on your hotel bill and see the words “coffee-maker fee,” you’re better off scrounging for free coffee in the lobby.
Ultimate Way to Avoid Hotel Fees
So now you are armed for your next stay at a beautiful hotel or resort-spa. Knowledge is everything when you travel. Knowing what to expect allows you to take control over your final bill. Use your power by making your reservation over the phone so you can ask all of the pertinent questions. Then once you get to your destination you can relax and have a great time and leave feeling rested rather than grumpy after having to shell out more dollars on your stay than you had anticipated.