Resort Fees: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

After walking away from the Hyatt Centric Miami South Beach recently, and incurring a $20 resort fee a night, I felt compelled to talk a little bit about the “science” behind these fees, and where they come into play – both the good, the bad and the ugly.

In talking with the General Manager of the hotel, I was told that the property would not be including the resort fee in the room rate, since the hotel wanted to keep the daily rates lower than that of other properties along the beach. While I can understand this, I almost think its a scam to travelers to force a daily fee that’s not included in the room rate itself.

For clarification, here’s how the hotel describes their resort fee:

A daily Resort Fee of $20.00 plus tax per day will be added to your rate and includes premium internet access, two beach chairs and towels, two welcome bottles of water, use of hotel bikes, world cinema in-room Bluetooth, 24 hour Stay Fit access, and daily newspaper.

I’m troubled by some of the things included here, which I’d like to discuss:

  • Premium internet access – As a Diamond member, I’m supposed to receive premium internet access as part of my status. So, I seem to be paying a resort fee on top of what I already should be getting.
  • Two beach chairs and towels – In a sense, I can understand this one, since the Hyatt Centric South Beach leases a portion of the beach from the nearby Loewe’s hotel for over $100,000 a year. While I don’t this portion of the fee is necessarily going to pay for chairs and towels, I think it is helping to pay the rent on the beach, which is something this property has to do to stay competitive.
  • Two welcome bottles of water – Other Hyatt’s, like Park Hyatt’s and Andaz properties, offer an unlimited supply of bottled water, so I’m not sure why this Hyatt can’t. In addition, if the hotel had a Regency ro Grand Club, bottled water would be provided free of charge. So, to be honest, I see this more as a problem with the hotel than of the situation.
  • Use of hotel bikes – Kimpton allows use of their hotel bikes free of charge to all guests, and my guess is that the $20 fee isn’t exactly going to the rental of these bikes, which are already owned by the hotel. Seems like an excuse for a fee, if you ask me.
  • In-room bluetooth – I like this feature, though found it to be very spotty during my stay. I’m not so sure this should be included in a resort fee, though. Any newly built, modern hotel would probably be equipped with this anyways, in my opinion. So, another excuse for a fee.
  • 24 hour fitness center – Most hotels provide this for free, and if it isn’t 24 hours, it’s an early morning through late evening operation. Again, with most hotels providing this for free anyways, it just doesn’t seem like something I should be paying for.
  • Daily newspaper – Diamonds use to receive this complimentary, but it’s no longer required by the hotels. During my stay, I did not receive a paper every morning, so looks like I paid for something I didn’t receive.

So, out of all of these items, I can count only a handful that are actually worth charging for:

  • If I don’t use the beach chairs and towels, I really wish I wasn’t getting billed for them.
  • 2 bottles of water maybe, on a good day amounts to $5. At most. So, paying $20 a night doesn’t seem to make sense with this one time benefit.
  • Daily newspaper – Again, maybe, on a good day a $2 charge – and that’s pricey as it is.

Is it worth it?

I’m not so sure. As you can see by my examples, depending on if I use the chairs/towel or not, I’m maybe getting only a few dollars benefit a day, outside of what most other hotels already include. In this case, it just seems like the resort fee is there to make extra money, without necessarily providing extra benefit.

I don’t see this just at the Hyatt South Beach. I see it time and time again at other properties, too. As a consumer, if there’s going to be an extra fee, I wish it were to just be included in the room rate, even, in this case if the room rates were $20 higher a night. I don’t like ancillary fees, and if the hotel fees a chair and towel are worth $20 a day, and that fee be mandated for all guests, it seems to make sense to include it in the regular room price. Personally, not including it and then claiming your room is cheaper than someone else just seems like a scam to me – since we all know most folks don’t read the fine print. Actually, I know many people that have been hit with these resort fees, not every knowing they existed until they check-out.

A Solution

In this case, I can see several solutions to the problem:

  • For top tier elites, waive the resort fee. I know some Kimpton properties do this for Inner Circle members and it works well. Even some Hyatt properties do it, too. For middle tier, maybe either waive the fee, or reduce the fee.
  • Include the fee in the room rate, which, in my opinion, is the best solution.
  • Just go a-la-carte. If I want the water, I’ll pay for it. If I want the beach chairs, I’ll pay for it. Same with the newspaper. While it doesn’t necessarily meet the budgetary constraints the hotel has, it’s a very consumer friendly approach.

What are your thoughts on resort fees? Should they be included in the room rate? Are they worth the benefits provided?

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Comments

  1. says

    It should be against the law unless it’s an optional charge or it’s listed in the room rate (like airlines are required to include taxes in the fare’s they show). The local property owners do this in an effort to nickel and dime but they do this at the risk of future business to the chain I think.

  2. COLIN says

    It’s at all the properties in South Beach. I don’t approve of it but you will not be able to fight it except by perhaps by getting a reduced fee.

    • COLIN says

      As I suspected and contrary to your implication, it is properly disclosed on the web site prior to you finalizing your booking:

      Selected Hotel
      Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami
      1600 Collins Avenue
      Miami Beach, Florida, 33139, USA

      A daily Resort Fee of $20.00 plus tax per day will be added to your rate and includes premium internet access, two beach chairs and towels, two welcome bottles of water, use of hotel bikes, world cinema in-room Bluetooth, 24 hour Stay Fit access, and daily newspaper.

  3. frustrated says

    It’s a very anticonsumer way to look cheaper on aggregation hotel websites. I have seen many resort fees that are 35 a night or higher. Its similar to the parking fee at hotels. I think it needs to either become optional and not included in the price OR it is included in any advertised price.

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