Why Some City Hotels Charge Resort Fees or Surcharges and How to Avoid Them

Why Some City Hotels Add Resort Fees or Surcharges and How to Avoid Them


1. They Compete on Price

The biggest reason that city hotels add resort fees (often called “destination fees” for hotels that are not in more typical resort areas) is that they're lower quality hotels that compete primarily on price. They want to appear to have the lowest price on search comparison sites, which often don't take these fees into account. This is also why the fees are so hated, because consumers focus on the initial rate, and may only discover the fees on the final booking page.


2. Located in Las Vegas

Even luxury hotels in Las Vegas typically charge a resort fee. Case in point: The Four Seasons Las Vegas, which doesn't charge a resort fee at the Four Seasons Hualalai, Four Seasons Maui, or any of its resorts in Hawaii or most other resort destinations, does charge a $45 per night resort fee in Las Vegas.


3. Airport Hotel

While airport hotels don't generally have “resort fees,” they're especially prone to adding other bogus charges, since their guests are typically only booking one night stays and are less likely to become repeat guests. Take for example the Renaissance LAX, which as Gary points out, charges a “daily hotel worker protection ordinance surcharge-local fee” of $8.70 + tax per room per night.


4. Avoid Paying Commission to Travel Advisors

Hotels that charge resort fees, destination fees, or other surcharges aren't only playing games with guests; they're also stiffing travel advisors and travel companies such as hours, since hotels only pay commission on pre-tax room rates, not on any resort fees or other fees.


5. Perverse Incentives vs. Brand

When it comes to hotels that are part of a major brand, such as Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, etc., these are typically owned and operated independently, and merely pay a license fee to the brand. The brand has value in terms of bringing guests to the hotel given the brand recognition, but the individual owner/operator's incentive is to try to make as much money as possible from each guest, even if the hotel offering disappoints guests, particularly in locales such as airports where the hotel has a more captive market and/or won't see a lot of repeat business.


How to Avoid Paying the Resort Fee or Extra Surcharges

1. Find Out the Fees Before Booking and Negotiate

If it's a hotel you really want to stay in, make sure you're aware of all fees, whether resort fees or other surcharges, before booking the hotel, then call the hotel's in-house Reservations team to see if they'll waive them. You're in the strongest negotiating position before you book, and while it's not common for hotels to waive the fees, it doesn't hurt to ask.


2. Check if an Award Stay Waives the Fees

For certain chain hotels that can be booked with points, an award stay doesn't incur these fees. As always, double check with Reservations to ensure this is the case.


3. As Part of a Service Recovery, the Fees Could Be Waived

We are NOT advocating that you make up a problem, but if during your stay you encounter serious problems with the room or service quality that, quite apart from the fees would cause you to request a room move or service recovery, as part of your complaint to the Manager on Duty you could request part of your room charge, including extra fees, to be refunded. The hotel can obviously push back and decline, and you're not likely to get as far in a cheaper hotel with lower product/service standards as at a luxury property.


4. Choose a Different Hotel That Doesn't Charge a Resort Fee or Extra Fees

We highly recommend directing your business and spend toward hotels that *don't* charge resort fees or extra fees. In most cases, bad actors only change their behavior if it's no longer economically rewarding, and if enough guests refuse to stay at hotels that charge these fees, that could change these hotels' views that guests will put up with these fees.

If you've been unpleasantly surprised by an extra resort fee or surcharges at a city hotel, which one was it?

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