When you find a particularly fantastic deal for a hotel stay at a beach town, you might see the rate skyrocket when you agree to book — these are “resort fees”.
Often buried in inscrutable contracts or legal disclaimers, resort fees are separate from the advertised fees you’ll see on travel booking or resort websites. Hotels claim these fees are a surcharge for use of basic amenities such as internet access or parking during your stay.
In reality, it’s a vaguely defined, mandatory add-on that resorts can take advantage of to advertise especially competitive rates.
For the most part, these fees are limited to major resort areas such as those in Florida or Hawaii. (Las Vegas is its own resort area, too.) Still, you can never be entirely sure you’re getting the best rate on sites such as Kayak when the results you see don’t consider these additional fees.
Using Kayak, which compares deals across travel booking sites, here’s the “best” per day rate at a popular Honolulu resort, for example:
It isn’t until you visit Amoma.com, select your room, view its amenities, and agree to book that you finally see an unexpected add-on fee, amounting to $US25 ($36) a night — for a week-long stay, that’s $US175 ($249) in additional fees.
If you want to view these fees before booking, ResortFeeChecker.com is a useful search tool that lets you find fees at over 2000 resorts — and see what you can expect to pay on your next hotel stay.
Using the website is pretty simple; you can search by city or resort name. Here is the fee you’d expect to pay at Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, for example:
Yes, you’re reading that correctly — that’s $US44.22 ($63) a night for phone access and a fitness centre. (And if you’re on holiday, it’s likely these are the last things on your mind.) In addition to resort fees, you’ll also see other fees you might expect to pay, including breakfast or parking fees that aren’t included.
Here’s another resort fee at the Private Ocean Condos at Trump Sunny Isles Resort. (Yes, it’s a real place.)
If you want to pay an additional $US100 ($142) a night for access to a fax machine, go right ahead; otherwise, you can use ResortFeeChecker to avoid hotels and resorts such as these with exorbitant fees.
Unfortunately, resort fees are difficult to avoid paying. Some travel experts claim you might be able to negotiate out of mandatory fees by declining to use amenities when booking a stay, but that could be difficult.
You might also be able to leverage any elite status or loyalty membership to get out of paying for resort fees, as well.
For now, the easiest thing to do is to avoid them altogether and book a stay at hotels without mandatory surcharges. Airbnb doesn’t incorporate any resort fees, though you should compare prices to those at resorts to make sure you’re actually booking a good rate.