Resort fees, those often hidden charges that can significantly impact the cost of a vacation, have become increasingly prevalent in the hospitality industry. These additional fees imposed by hotels and resorts are intended to cover specific amenities, such as access to pools, gyms, and Wi-Fi. However, the cost of these resort fees can sometimes exceed the actual nightly rate of the hotel, leaving travelers feeling blindsided and frustrated. Recognizing this, hotel loyalty programs, such as Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt, offer strategies to mitigate the impact of resort fees by allowing guests to book award stays using loyalty points. Additionally, certain hotel credit cards offer perks that can earn points for free stays, helping travelers avoid these unwelcome charges. For top-tier members, some hotel brands even waive resort fees altogether, providing an added incentive to achieve elite status.
What are resort fees?
Resort fees are additional charges implemented by hotels or resorts for specific amenities. Instead of including these amenities in the nightly rate, hotels choose to charge them separately as resort fees. These fees can vary in amount and are typically charged per night of stay. While the intention behind resort fees is to provide guests with access to a range of amenities and services, their implementation and impact on vacation costs can be a matter of concern for many travelers.
Definition of resort fees
Resort fees refer to the additional charges imposed by hotels or resorts on top of the nightly rate. They are intended to cover the cost of amenities and services that are provided to guests during their stay. These fees are typically compulsory, meaning that guests are required to pay them even if they do not utilize all the amenities included in the resort fee.
Typical amenities covered by resort fees
Resort fees typically cover a variety of amenities and services that are provided to guests during their stay. This can include access to facilities such as pools, fitness centers, spas, Wi-Fi, parking, beach chairs, and even local telephone calls. Other amenities that might be covered by resort fees can include daily newspaper delivery, in-room coffee or tea, and access to business centers or concierge services. The range of amenities included in resort fees can vary depending on the specific hotel or resort.
Reasons for implementing resort fees
Hotels and resorts implement resort fees for several reasons. One primary reason is to offset the costs associated with providing certain amenities and services. By charging a separate resort fee, hotels can account for the expenses of maintaining and operating these facilities without increasing the base nightly rate. Resort fees also allow hotels to market their rates more competitively, as the base nightly rate can appear to be lower without including the costs of all amenities. Lastly, implementing resort fees allows hotels to generate additional revenue, contributing to their overall profitability.
How do resort fees impact vacation costs?
The impact of resort fees on vacation costs can be significant and can sometimes catch travelers off guard.
Increasing total cost of vacation
One of the major impacts of resort fees is that they can significantly increase the total cost of a vacation. Travelers carefully budget and plan their trips, taking into account the cost of flights, accommodation, meals, and activities. When resort fees are added on top of the nightly rate, it can lead to unexpected expenses that were not accounted for in the initial budget. This can put a strain on travelers' finances and potentially limit their ability to enjoy other aspects of their vacation.
Sometimes higher than the nightly hotel rate
Another alarming impact of resort fees is that they can sometimes be higher than the nightly rate itself. This means that travelers end up paying more for resort fees than for the actual room. This situation can be especially frustrating for travelers who choose hotels based on their affordability, only to realize that the resort fees make the overall cost much higher than anticipated.
Perks that should be included in the nightly rate
Resort fees are often criticized because they cover amenities and services that are considered basic necessities and should be included in the nightly rate. Many travelers believe that access to amenities like Wi-Fi, parking, or fitness centers should be part of the overall package and not charged separately. Resort fees, in essence, lead to a lack of transparency and can leave guests feeling frustrated when they discover that what they initially thought was included ends up being an additional cost.
Hotels and travel booking sites’ approach to resort fees
Hotels and travel booking sites have their own strategies when it comes to resort fees, often aiming to make them difficult to identify.
Making resort fees difficult to identify
Hotels and resorts, as well as travel booking sites, sometimes employ tactics to make resort fees less noticeable or harder to identify. This can include listing the resort fee in small print on websites or burying the information in the terms and conditions. Sometimes, the total cost of a hotel room on a booking website does not even include the resort fee, leading travelers to believe that the quoted price is the final cost.
Hidden fees and lack of transparency
The lack of transparency when it comes to resort fees is a common issue faced by travelers. They might book a hotel based on an attractive nightly rate, only to discover upon arrival that there is an additional resort fee to pay. This lack of disclosure can create frustration and a sense of being misled. Travelers may feel that hotels or booking sites are not being upfront about the total cost of a stay, making it difficult to accurately compare rates and make informed decisions.
Legal regulations and consumer rights
In response to the concerns raised by travelers, there have been legal regulations and consumer rights initiatives implemented to address the issue of resort fees. Some jurisdictions require hotels to disclose resort fees upfront and ensure that they are included in the total price quoted to consumers. In addition, consumer advocacy groups and legal entities have taken action against hotels and booking sites that they believe engage in deceptive practices when it comes to resort fees. These initiatives aim to protect travelers and promote fairness and transparency in the hospitality industry.
Strategies to avoid resort fees
While resort fees can be challenging to avoid, there are strategies that travelers can employ to minimize or eliminate them.
Booking award stays using hotel loyalty points
One effective strategy to avoid resort fees is to book award stays using hotel loyalty points. Many hotel loyalty programs, such as Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt, allow members to redeem their points for complimentary stays. By utilizing these points, travelers can cover the cost of the room without having to pay additional resort fees. This can be particularly advantageous for frequent travelers who accumulate a substantial number of loyalty points through their stays.
Advantages of programs like Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt
Hotel loyalty programs like Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt offer additional benefits that can help travelers avoid resort fees. These programs have elite status tiers, such as Diamond or Globalist, which come with perks such as complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, and even resort fee waivers. By earning elite status in these programs, travelers can enjoy these benefits, including the waiving of resort fees, during their stays.
Hotel credit cards for free stays and fee avoidance
Another strategy to consider is obtaining hotel credit cards that offer perks like free nights or fee avoidance. Many hotel chains have their own branded credit cards that provide cardholders with benefits such as annual free night certificates or automatic elite status. These benefits can be used to cover the cost of a hotel stay, including the resort fees. By strategically using these credit cards, travelers can minimize the impact of resort fees on their vacation costs.
Earning elite status for waiving resort fees
Earning elite status with certain hotel brands can also be a way to have resort fees waived.
Understanding elite status benefits
Elite status within hotel loyalty programs comes with a range of benefits, including potential waivers of resort fees. These benefits are typically earned by reaching certain qualifying criteria, such as the number of stays or nights at participating hotels or the accumulation of a specific number of loyalty points. Elite status can offer perks such as room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, late check-out, and, in some cases, the waiving of resort fees.
How it can help avoid resort fees
Attaining elite status can be particularly advantageous for travelers who frequently stay at hotels within a specific brand or chain. By earning elite status, they gain access to benefits including the potential waiver of resort fees. This can significantly reduce the overall cost of a vacation, making it a desirable option for travelers looking to avoid additional expenses during their stays.
Specific hotel brands with elite status benefits
Certain hotel brands offer elite status benefits that include the waiving of resort fees for top-tier members. For example, World of Hyatt's Globalist members are typically exempt from paying resort fees. Similarly, Marriott Bonvoy's Titanium and Ambassador Elite members may also have resort fees waived at participating hotels. It is essential for travelers to familiarize themselves with the benefits and qualification criteria of hotel loyalty programs to determine which brands offer the most advantageous elite status benefits for waiving resort fees.
In conclusion, resort fees are additional charges imposed by hotels or resorts for specific amenities and services. While they are intended to cover the costs associated with providing these amenities, the impact on vacation costs can be substantial. Travelers have expressed frustration over the increased overall cost of their vacations, as well as the lack of transparency surrounding resort fees. However, there are strategies travelers can utilize to minimize or avoid resort fees, including booking award stays using hotel loyalty points, taking advantage of programs like Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt, and earning elite status with specific hotel brands. By understanding the implications of resort fees and employing these strategies, travelers can make informed decisions when planning their vacations and avoid any unwelcome surprises.