Tag: Hidden Hotel FeesView All Tags
In this turbulent, unpredictable world, there are a few constants that we've always known to be dependable and unchangeable: the sun will always rise. And when it does, we'll want coffee and if we don't get it, we get surly. These have and will always be the case, no matter what happens.
One thing we also thought to be a constant that is apparently maybe not so much anymore? That the coffee we need so desperately in the A.M. will be free in our hotel rooms. Yeah: maybe not.
On his blog, travel expert Chris Elliott heard from a disgruntled hotel guest who stayed at the Barclay InterContinental in NYC. She was disgruntled not only because the hotel tried to charge her $80 for a breakfast she didn't even get, but something terrible happened. Something terrible involving coffee.
It's no secret that hotel guests hate being nickel and dimed for everything during their stay so it's refreshing to see that the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers has begun to offer a No Hidden Fees package.
Starting at just $119 per night, travelers will receive high-speed Internet access, unlimited domestic calls, valet parking and access to the state-of-the-art fitness center. Offer is valid for travel now through September 7, 2009 and must be booked by June 30. These inclusions, when priced separately, save guests a minimum of $75 per day!
This deal is actually offered in partnership with AAA and you must be a AAA member to take advantage of the perks. The rate of $119 a night is available from September 3-8. But most dates this summer start at $159 and up.
Book online here or reference AUTOHOT when booking over the phone at 1-800-233-4100.
Though airlines have gotten a lot of flack for charging for longtime standards like food and pillows, the Boston Globe reports that “travel industry analysts say the other giant in the travel game - the hotel industry - has become even worse at adding on miscellaneous fees and surcharges.” In fact, 2007 was the peak year for the introduction of add-on hotel fees, according to the article, and last year US hotels pretty much made bank, raking in a record $1.75 billion revenue (via PricewaterhouseCoopers).
Just when we thought paying for WiFi to be the worst of hotel extra evils, a reader has reminded us of yet another devil in the details: additional charges for using the hotel's gym. Calling out Chicago's Palmer House Hilton in particular, our tipster uncovers more than just the fee, but also the lack of signage regarding it:
Just discovered -- the Palmer House charges $18 (!!) for guests to use their fitness center. I'm sure it's lovely, but at the news of $18 I turned around and left. Outrageous on several levels: the price (although I wouldn't pay anything) and the fact that there was absolutely no clue until I walked and found a front desk that there were any fees involved. Even then, nothing's posted.
His answer? Don't take it lying down.
He advises the traveler to simply refuse to take no for an answer -- which is kind of obnoxious, really, but good advice.
Resort Fees are never loved. No one likes ponying up another $20 atop a room rate at check-in. And resort fees are a major buzzkill when you think you've found a room within your budget only to find out that you have to pay an extra $35 a night.
Hotels know that these resort fees suck so they try to trick you by calling it different things like a "Service Charge" or a "Hospitality Fee" or even a "Bellman's Gratuity Fee." But whatever they call it, it still feels like a serious case of nickel and diming.
As we've seen with hotel WiFi, hotel guests don't like to be charged for extra services. We would rather you just roll that into the room rate.
But could there be a silver lining to resort fees?
Some resort fees that we have encountered recently we didn't mind, especially when they covered the cost of valet or self-parking and in certain situations, internet access. Some hotels charge $15 a day for WiFi, while resort fees can be $20 and cover internet, breakfast and parking.
Sure, it's not ideal but if a resort fee saves us from constantly having to pull out our credit card or fumble for single bills to tip the staff, then maybe resort fees can actually make your hotel stay easier. Then again, some resorts charge a fee that doesn't include internet or parking or anything extra that's really of value.
Here we're hoping to create an unofficial list of hotels with resort fees and what you get for those extra dollars a night.
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Hotel fees just totally suck. And while the obvious ones are pretty annoying like the charges for WiFi, parking, mini-bar and fitness centers, the hidden ones blow even more. Here's a little round-up of status of hotel fees today.
· Hilton Hotels: If you cancel a room at a Hilton, they will not only charge you the room rate but also occupancy tax. In this case, a guest contested the tax and was refunded. [Consumerist]
· Early Departure Fees: We sometimes forget about this one. If you leave a day before you were supposed to, you will get dinged. Charges start at $50 and go up. [Go California]
· Checked Baggage...in Hotels: We all know that airlines are getting fee-happy but sometimes are starting to charge you $1-$5 for leaving your suitcase with the bellman after that pain-in-the-ass check-out time of 11am and before your 3pm flight. Grrr....[CNN]
· Booking Sites List Fees: Shame on hotels who don't list all of their booking fees online. But third-party booking sites may. [Travel + Leisure]
· A Video Tutorial: Catherine Hamm of the LA Times made this video on how to avoid the hidden fees. [Video Jug]
· Random Fees: We've been keeping track of some other random fees that hotels charge as well. [HotelChatter]
As our little brother in travel arms just told you, Peter Greenberg was on NBC's Today Show this morning, calling out a couple Arizona hotels for piling on the "resort fees". The most egregious offender? The Tempe Mission Palms where Peter was subject to a $9.75 "hospitality fee". Guess some hotels feel their guests should pay extra for general hospitality. How lame.
Though Regis Philbin was the main stream media trailblazer in drawing attention to hotels where tips and fees are built into your bill, many times unknowingly, Greenberg did a great job moving the ball forward this morning. The important thing is to call out these hotels by name, so unsuspecting guests can become suspecting guests and get these charges removed from the bill before they even check in, or alternatively, just stay elsewhere. For the hotels, it is important to remember guests don't like feeling bamboozled. Be super up front about whatever fees you are going to charge and then the responsibility accepting such fees swings back to the guest.
We applaud Peter Greenberg for having the guts to call these hotels out by name and presenting the "gotcha" bill on the Today Show for everyone to see.
Have you been a victim of hidden hotel and resort fees? Let us know in the comments below.
Until a reader tipped us off, we hadn't heard anything about Hilton settling a class action suit on how it administered "resort fees." While resort fees are universally panned as being unethical, illogical, annoying, and basically just an extra tax slapped on guests, this is the first time we've seem them pegged as illegal.
It turns out that the problem was Hilton didn't disclose the fees up front, nor tell guests that the fees were optional. The legal nitty gritty can be found here on the settlement site.
The settlement is kind of an odd one that you'll need a calculator to decipher. The bottom line is that Hilton is lowering its resort fees across all properties by a certain percentage until the overcharged amount in the past is paid down. This might not go into the reservation system until after the final mid-November settlement ruling though: when we went through the booking process at Hilton Sedona Resort and Spa (pictured here), no resort fee was disclosed.
In addition, former guests who can provide documented proof that they stayed at any of the 11 hotels prior to Jan. 1, 2004 and paid the resort fee will receive full reimbursement.
(The complete list of hotels can be found after the jump.)
Alas, this probably won't keep other resorts from charging a resort fee, even though this is kind of like a golf course charging a "cart path fee." They might get slapped with the same kind of suit though if they haven't been making it optional. Unless you're an attorney that finds another legal snag in the practice, we suggest you just ask up front and then vote with your wallet.
[Note: This screenshot was taken from our reservation confirmation email. The policy is subject to change, although we doubt it.]
Our first impression of the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel is that it's massive. It's a sprawling hotel on top of cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean. Naturally due to the views, it's also a popular wedding destination as there were three weddings in place on the day we checked-in.
The resort recently renovated its public areas such as the bar and the restaurants to capitalize on the ocean views, making it a special place to do lunch or dinner.
But the resort is so massive that's its a maze trying to get to your room. And once you get there, its really not worth the $400 room rate. We did have a partial view of the ocean, but we also had a head-on view of the outdoor massage cabanas. The bathrooms are quite amazing and luxurious as is the bed. But the rest of the place didn't seem that special. The furniture and setup just wasn't quite as nice as we were expecting.
However our view of the place may have been tainted thanks to a certain hotel policy. What got under our skin about this Ritz Carlton was not only the $400 room rate and the No Pets Allowed policy (have they not been following the pet trend?) and the vague $20 resort fee. Oh and did we mention this place does not even offer wireless access? Nope, they still do the old school ethernet for $9.95 a day.
But back to our initial gripe: What really irked us is the insane cancellation fee charge. If we were to cancel our reservation seven days or less before our arrival date, we would have to pay DOUBLE our room rate.
Since we saw this cancellation fee before we got to the hotel, we have to admit that might have led us to be a little prejudice against the resort and prevented us from truly enjoying it.
· Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel reviews [TripAdvisor]
According to USA Today:
Regis Philbin tipped a bellman at the Boca Raton Resort & Club last weekend, only to find out the bellman's tip was already built into his hotel bill.
Of course, this peeved Regis, and you don't want to irk Reg. As expected, he told an entire TV audience about his fleecing upon his return.
Boca was forced to respond:
"We didn't want guests to worry" about constantly tipping, says Anne Hersley-Hankins. "Normally, when a person checks in, it is explained. It should have been explained" to Philbin.
Other upscale resorts, including The Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa in Arizona, tack on a daily service charge that includes bellmen's gratuities.
Know any other resorts that do this? Let us know.