I grew up in New York and despite a few beautiful pools, there’s just nothing about the city which screams “resort”. It’s a bustling city, with one rather large playground in the middle of it, with no palm trees to be found anywhere, or golf courses either. To charge resort fees in New York is like a hotel charging for water in the desert.
For those that haven’t already had the shock and awe of checking into a hotel, only to be told that they’ll need to fork over an additional $25-$50 dollars per day in “resort fees”, it’s important to fully understand what exactly they are.
Resort fees are similar to the “basic economy” game airlines are playing, but unlike airlines, you have no choice in whether or not you pay for them. That was annoying but acceptable in places like Palm Springs where hotels offer sprawling outdoor facilities, but in major cities? I think not.
A passenger without a checked bag now who is willing to take whatever seat they are given now has the choice not to pay a premium for these features when purchasing an airline ticket.
A hotel guest now has no choice but to pay for things which were once just a part of the experience, regardless of whether they’ll use any of the listed facilities, or not. The gym, the pool, the internet and virtually every other service which was always just been a part of the experience is now considered fee worthy. Rather than completely take the piss and call these charges “resort fees” some hotels now call them “urban destination fees”.
And no, unless you plan to have a lengthy intellectual debate with a check in clerk or hotel manager, you are highly unlikely to wiggle or talk your way out of paying them. That doesn’t mean you should not try.
But someone is doing something about it, right?
In yet another shocking move where the US Government fails to protect its consumers, hotels aren’t actually required to disclose that you’ll be paying a mandatory resort fee, which average at least $25, until the final booking phase. If hotel lobbyists continue to have their way, that won’t be changing either.
With airlines, that “extra fee” disclosure is now perfectly clear from the first click, whereas hotels are only required to disclose these horrendous resort fees on the final payment stage, at which point many travellers are focused on finding their wallet, and miss the disclosure entirely.
It’s comical to take a $500 a night hotel such as the five star Gramercy Park Hotel in New York, or a the two star Hotel Pennsylvania and add a resort fee to either total sum. On opposite ends of the travel spectrum, it’s an equally insulting gesture.
Sorry, but is my $500 per night not enough to cover bottled water and lobby coffee?
When you counter this with regulations In the European Economic Union, where hotels are required to disclose all charges up front, including final taxes it feels worse. Australia follows a similar principle, where it’s illegal to charge anything as mandatory that wasn’t included in an initial figure.
In New York, the city went from 15 hotels with resort fees in 2016 to more than 95 in 2019. Resort fees are most prevalent in New York City, Miami, Las Vegas, Orlando, Honolulu, Myrtle Beach and San Diego but sadly, they’re rearing their ugly head in more cities by the day.
While many travellers will always stay chain loyal and insist upon a buffet breakfast whenever they leave home, the move is pushing many people away from hotels in general.
It’s clear from recent moves such as Marriott investing in home sharing options that Airbnb, SweetInn and other services are beginning to make a dent with younger travellers, so why hotels would choose to charge yet another fee at this time is beyond logic. For many customers, it’s yet another nail in the loyalty coffin pushing business towards the sharing economy.
Looking at an upcoming trip to New York, I was uneasy about hotel rates for the extremely popular week anyway, but the $45 per day resort fees officially pushed me out the door, and into the lap of the very brands hotel chains are competing with. Yes, as crazy as it sounds, I was perfectly prepared to pay $375 per night for a hotel, but once they said they’ll need $45 per night in resort fees, I bailed.
It’s fair to say that no one on earth loves resort fees, except the hotels that charge them and the brands that benefit as guests like myself flee traditional hotels in droves.