Save money traveling this summer: living expenses, fine print and other things to look for when booking hotels, resorts and more
When shopping for vacation destinations, be on the lookout for expensive resort fees. The resort fee is a separate charge added to your rate per night to cover certain hotel-provided amenities. Living expenses are usually automatically added to your bill, whether or not you use the amenities covered by the living expenses. Charges can range from a few dollars per night to over $ 30 per night. They can be optional, but most are not.
Resort fees are mostly added in tourist destinations such as Las Vegas, Florida, Hawaii, and various Caribbean destinations, but they can apply anywhere and are not necessarily limited to resorts. If so, how do you know if accommodation charges will be added to your bill?
Thanks to the actions of the Federal Trade Commission in 2012, hotels and resorts must disclose reservation fees in a reasonably open manner. However, the costs are not always obvious.
When booking direct, hotels usually include the resort fee and the amount somewhere on the booking page at the time of confirmation or before. However, when booking through Priceline, Expedia or similar third parties, rate structures are not always so easy to spot and may be hidden in fine print such as “The rate shown does not include resort charges and taxes. applicable “. Charges must be disclosed at some point prior to the booking confirmation page, but this is not guaranteed.
What do you get for your resort fees? You can usually get an explanation – and most of the amenities are quite pedestrianized. Wi-Fi, in-room phones, pools, fitness centers, and delivered newspapers can be found on the list of some resort fees. You could argue that these elements should be included. The hotel would simply increase the cost of the room in response.
To avoid resort fees, you need to be proactive. Include accommodation costs and applicable taxes when evaluating your options and call the hotel to verify the amount of the charge and what it is for. You can get a better deal by booking directly in any case. You can try to negotiate a better rate by arguing that you will not be using this equipment, but not being part of a loyalty program that may fail.
A searchable list of resort fees can be found at http://www.resortfeechecker.com. However, as this list is neither exhaustive nor guaranteed to be up to date, it is best to verify all charges with your hotel before booking. This may require a separate call to verify options if you plan to book with a third party.
What if you didn’t know there was a resort fee included? Most likely, you are out of luck. Class actions have been filed, including a recent one against the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas, claiming the charges were not disclosed or misrepresented until after booking and confirmation. So far, hotels have prevailed in these lawsuits and as long as fee disclosure is truly available somewhere before confirmation, they will likely continue to do so.
In short, lodging charges are just a way for some hotels to pass part of their operating costs on to guests without this being evident in the nightly rate. The best way to look at them is to treat them as part of the overall price and assume that there is a service charge unless you confirm with the hotel that there is none. Then you can accurately assess your accommodation options for your trip and make the best choice for your stay.