Resort Fees: No Day at the Beach

Lawsuits may force hotels to make costs more transparent.

Travelers who shop around for good deals on hotels are often surprised to discover that their rooms cost more than expected. The culprit: resort fees, which add about $23 per day, according to ResortFeeChecker.com (opens in new tab). But those fees could soon become extinct, or at least harder for hotels to conceal.

In July, the attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Nebraska filed lawsuits against Marriott International and Hilton, respectively, charging them with deceiving customers. The courts must decide whether the hotels provide adequate disclosure of the fees or whether they’re illegally withholding fees until customers book their rooms, says Bjorn Hanson, a hotel industry consultant. If the lawsuits succeed, hotels may scrap the fees or disclose them more prominently, Hanson says.

Opponents of the fees argue that they’re illegal, even if they’re disclosed, because consumers can’t opt out of them. And often hotels charge for amenities guests wouldn’t associate with a resort getaway, such as local calls or notary services. You can look up fees at ResortFeeChecker.com (opens in new tab). Before you book a room, ask the hotel to waive them. It also helps to reserve with points; Hilton and Hyatt generally don’t charge resort fees for award reservations.

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Sabrina Medler
Intern, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Medler is a senior at Stanford University, majoring in Political Science and Communications. An intern finding her way in the professional world, she has quite the hodgepodge of communications experience — from reporting at the St. Louis Business Journal and The Riverfront Times, to working in politics, advertising, and even comedy at the television show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. She also writes and edits for various campus publications including The Stanford Daily and Stanford Politics. Medler became a Kiplinger intern through the American Society of Magazine Editors Internship Program.