The Scoop on Resort Fees: Unpacking the Hospitality Industry's Addon thumbnail picture
  29 May 2024

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The Scoop on Resort Fees: Unpacking the Hospitality Industry's Controversial Add-On

The age-old resort fee – that mysterious and often dreaded additional charge that seems to pop up on hotel bills like an unwelcome party guest. As a traveler, you might have experienced the frustration of booking what appears to be a great hotel rate, only to find an extra "resort fee" tacked on at the end, making your final bill much higher than expected.

But what exactly are resort fees, and why have they become such a hotly debated topic in the hospitality industry? In this comprehensive guide, we're going to dive deep into the world of resort fees, exploring everything from why hotels charge them to whether you can actually refuse to pay them. 

Grab a seat and get ready to unpack this controversial hospitality phenomenon.

What is a Resort Fee?

A resort fee is an additional charge that some hotels and resorts tack on to a guest's bill, typically ranging from $10 to $50 per night. These fees are often marketed as covering the cost of various amenities and services provided by the property, such as:

  • WiFi access
  • Use of fitness centers or pools
  • Shuttle transportation
  • Newspaper or magazine delivery
  • Resort activities like yoga classes or wine tastings

The thing to understand about resort fees is that they are separate from the base room rate. So, even if you book a room for $200 per night, you may end up paying an additional $25 or more in resort fees on top of that.

Why Do Hotels Charge Resort Fees?

Ultimately, hotels charge resort fees for one simple reason – profit.

By tacking on these additional fees, hotels can effectively increase their room rates without making the base price appear higher to potential guests. Doing so allows them to stay competitive in the market while generating more revenue per booking.

But the rationale goes a bit deeper than that. Hotels argue that resort fees allow them to offer more value to guests by including a wide range of amenities and services that would otherwise be charged individually. In turn, it creates a more appealing and all-inclusive experience for travelers.

Of course, not everyone is convinced by this logic. Many consumer advocates and industry watchdogs criticize resort fees as being deceptive and artificially inflating the true cost of a hotel stay. After all, if these amenities are truly valuable to guests, shouldn't they be incorporated into the base room rate?

Can You Refuse to Pay Resort Fees?

Most hotels maintain that resort fees are mandatory and non-negotiable. Refusing to pay them could result in penalties, such as being denied access to the property or even being reported to credit card companies for non-payment.

In some cases, guests have successfully argued that they should not have to pay resort fees if they did not use or want the amenities covered by those fees. However, the legality of this practice is in flux, with various state and federal authorities weighing in on the issue.

That said, there are a few strategies guests can try to avoid or reduce resort fees:

Book Directly with the Hotel: Rates and fees can sometimes be more transparent and negotiable when booking directly with the hotel, rather than through a third-party site.

Ask for the Fee to Be Waived: Politely explain to the hotel staff that you don't plan to use the amenities covered by the resort fee and request that it be waived or reduced.

Use Rewards or Elite Status: If you're a member of the hotel's loyalty program or have elite status, you may be able to get the resort fee waived or discounted.

Dispute the Charge: You can try disputing the resort fee with your credit card company if you feel it was not adequately disclosed or if you didn't use the amenities.

Are Resort Fees Per Room or Per Guest?

In some cases, resorts charge fees per room, meaning that the total fee is the same regardless of how many people are staying in the room. However, in other cases, hotels may charge an additional resort fee per guest, effectively doubling or tripling the total cost for larger parties.

To further complicate matters, some hotels have started implementing "per person" resort fees, where the fee is charged on a per-guest basis but with a maximum cap per room. For example, a hotel might charge a $30 resort fee per person, with a maximum of $60 per room.

The best way to determine how resort fees are calculated at a particular property is to carefully review the hotel's policies and disclosures before booking. And of course, if you have any questions or concerns, clarify them directly with the hotel staff.

Predictions for the Future of Resort Fees

As the debate around resort fees continues to rage on, it's natural to wonder what the future holds for this contentious hospitality practice. 

Here are a few predictions:

Increased Regulatory Scrutiny: With growing consumer backlash and pressure from advocacy groups, we can expect to see more regulatory action and oversight when it comes to resort fees. Authorities may mandate stricter disclosure requirements or even move to ban the practice entirely in certain jurisdictions.

More Transparency and Disclosure: In response to regulatory pressure and public outcry, hotels may be forced to be more upfront and transparent about their resort fees. This could mean prominently displaying the fees on booking sites, providing detailed breakdowns of what the fees cover, and making it easier for guests to opt-out or negotiate.

Shifting Towards Inclusive Pricing: As the resort fee model comes under fire, some hotels may move towards a more all-inclusive pricing structure, where amenities and services are bundled into the base room rate.

Increasing Use of Amenity Fees: If resort fees become more heavily regulated or even banned, hotels may pivot to a different type of add-on fee – one that's tied to specific, a la carte amenities rather than a blanket "resort" charge. Doing so could give guests more control and transparency over what they're paying for.

Regardless of how the future of resort fees unfolds, one thing is clear: the hospitality industry will need to continue adapting to meet the evolving expectations and demands of today's savvy and discerning travelers.

Take the first step towards a smarter, more profitable resort operation. Get started with the Booking Ninjas property management system today and unlock your full potential.

Improve Your Property's Management, Operation & Revenue With Booking Ninjas Property Management System

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