Traveling is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable experience, not one filled with dread and hidden fees. However, it is becoming increasingly common for hotels and B&Bs to charge their guests hidden fees called “resort fee”.
A hotel resort fee is a fee that a hotel or resort may charge guests on top of the nightly rate. This fee usually comes as a surprise to guests who arrive at their hotel and have already paid online. However, booking onsite may also incur this fee. This resort fee covers the cost of amenities like pool use, towels, internet access, and more.
We can all agree that traveling is already expensive without unexpected fees and paying hidden costs can completely throw off your travel budget. Read on to find out more about resort fee and how to deal with it.
No one likes to be deceived when it comes to booking a hotel room, especially if it’s a room you really wanted or the price was within your budget. So how do hotels implement this ‘resort fee’?
1. Partition Payment System
Some hotels and resorts have a “partition payment system.” Once you choose the room you want and begin the booking process, different web pages may open up through the payment process. The hotel or booking site will gradually add these mandatory fees, increasing the price and deceiving the customer into thinking they’re getting a better deal.
For example, Say you found a great room for $99 per night, and you click to book. The following web pages may take you through various pages until the final payment screen, where you will find the price has become $130 per night. This method of partition pricing can sometimes trick or convince the guests to book the room anyways, despite the price increase.
2. Adding on the spot
Resort fees can also be added when booking a hotel room onsite. You may find a room advertised online for a certain price, but when you walk into the hotel to book the room, the price will have changed drastically. This is due to the resort fee being added to the base price of the room.
Paying the resort fees can be out of your hands, but you can learn when the best time and day to book a hotel will be. Did you know that you can get incredible hotel deals depending on when and how far in advance or last minute you book? Check out our article about the best time to book a hotel room to find expert advice based on existing data.
Resort fees typically include services you would otherwise expect as a given when booking a hotel room, such as:
- In-room coffee or other amenities
- Beach access
- Pool or gym access
Discovering these fees and what they cover can be extremely frustrating for guests, especially when the services covered are what you would expect to be covered in the cost of the room.
Note that resort fees are not the same as hotel deposits.
Resort fees can range from as little as $25 to $160 per night and don’t include tips or gratuity. These fees can differ depending on where you are going. Typically bigger cities with more attractions and more tourists will charge higher fees. According to Forbes, cities like Miami, Oahu, and San Diego have some of the highest resort fees in the US.
Unfortunately, these resort fees increase yearly, costing the traveler more each year. They don’t seem to be going anywhere fast.
Typically only hotels charge resort fees, although you may find that Airbnb also has some hidden fees when booking such as the infamous cleaning fees. All-inclusive resorts do not charge resort fees, which is why a night at an all-inclusive is significantly higher than a night in a hotel.
Not all hotels charge resort fees, so it is best practice to do thorough research and try many booking sites before booking a room or leaving a review for a certain hotel. Booking via sites might save you a few dollars as well, as shown in our article about booking hotel rooms via OTA vs directly with the hotel.
Unfortunately, these frustrating hidden fees are completely legal for hotels to charge their guests. The US President, Joe Biden, is currently working on abolishing these hidden costs that are a burden on travelers and visitors to the US, but only time will tell.
Resort fees can also be found in touristy destinations throughout the Americas, like Canada, The Caribbean, and Mexico.
Believe it or not, there are some pros to paying the resort fee. If you pay the fee, access to all the services mentioned is guaranteed, and your vacation will run smoothly.
The cons definitely outweigh the pros in this case. Resort fees are inherently deceptive to the customer and can cause unnecessary frustration and added time when booking a hotel room. Having to go through extra paywalls at the check-out can make a once affordable room an unaffordable option, causing the guest to have to keep searching for a better-priced room.
Guests could end up paying extra for unwanted or unused services. Worst of all, there is still a chance that this fee won’t cover everything at the hotel. Guests need to check what exactly is and isn’t covered in the resort fee to budget for extra onsite costs.
The best way to stop paying resort fees is not to book a property that charges them. You can use the website ResortFeeChecker.com to check and see if your prospective property charges these fees. Unfortunately, this is the best way travelers can avoid the hidden costs for now.
- Argue. Many guests have had some luck arguing about the resort fees upon check-in or check-out. If you don’t plan on using many amenities and don’t mind some pushback or conflict, this may work for you.
- Join a rewards program. Some rewards programs waive the resort fee for their guests.
- Avoid using credit cards altogether. It’s quite difficult these days but still doable, check a few ideas in our article about booking hotel rooms without a credit card.
More often than not, hotels will not waive or refund the fee, even if the guest asks. Although it doesn’t hurt to ask. Some travelers have reported that making a solid case as to why they think the fee should be waived or refunded has worked for some hotels.
Speaking to the manager directly will also help your case and ensure they know how to fully use the operating and booking system that the hotel uses. This avoids dealing with employees who may not know how to remove or refund a booking fee. If you didn’t use any of the services the fee covers, or those services were in disrepair during your stay, you can make this claim to help strengthen your case.
You can dispute a resort fee on your credit card. Your provider may ask for you to show them documentation regarding your stay and services provided, so keep receipts and screenshots from the hotel. A good example would be if the hotel advertises a free pool or doesn’t list the extra resort charge on its website. The downside to this is that it can be time-consuming for the customer.
Although there is not much the individual consumer can do about Resort Fees, you can support companies like ResortFeeChecker.com, which are putting in the work to ensure travelers have access to a tool to avoid these fees. If you have a blog or social media account, share this message with friends and family to help them avoid the fees as well.
Other ways to fight back against resort fees would be to
- File an FTC complaint
- Write a letter to your local and state politicians.
- Boycott hotels that charge this fee
- Write reviews on Google, Tripadvisor, or Yelp.
Take action and visit killresortfees.com to learn more about them and see what you can do to help stop hotels from charging these unnecessary fees.
Sometimes there’s nothing we as guests can do about resort fee, but there are other doable steps we can do to reduce our accommodation costs. Read more about this in how to get the best deal when booking a hotel room.