Calling BS On Excessive Resort Fees

I have no problem with resort fees.  They’re pretty standard in most hotels that offer amenities these days.  So, it makes sense that a hotel with a giant water park would charge resort fees for your stay.  Still, after a recent booking, I still walked away mad.

I wasn’t upset that they charged for a resort fee.  But a couple of things in particular got to me.  So, I decided to call them out on it on social media.

Resort Fees At Our Favorite Water Park

We’ve stayed at a nearby water park for several years.  We love it.  The kids have a great time.  They run around all day and never get bored.  We join them and have fun playing with them and relaxing.

We decided to book a trip during the kid’s mid-winter break, coming up in February.  I did some research on rates and found one that was basically identical to what we paid last year.  It averaged $156 per night.  Last year our average was $152 per night.

Still, when I got my confirmation e-mail, I was surprised to see that the amount due was listed as quite a bit higher than the $8 I was expecting for our two night stay.  It was over $20 different.

I knew something had to be different.  I pulled out an itemized receipt and noticed that the likely culprit was the resort fee.  The receipt from last year listed this as $19.99 per night.  When I used our numbers and started playing with numbers, the final total came up with a nightly fee of $25.99.

They raised the price $6 per night.  That’s 30%.

My Complaints About The Resort Fee

So, I took to social media.  My complaint was politely worded, but it let them know that I was pretty unhappy about two elements:

  1. The large increase – I felt a 30% increase was excessive from one season to the next.  Furthermore, some quick Google searches showed that in 2011, the resort fee was a much more modest $9.99. So, the pattern of large increases is not new.
  2. The fact that it was hidden – Nowhere on their website does it list the actual amount of the resort fee.  Their confirmation e-mail lists the charge for your room and then a single line ‘Taxes and Fees’.  Only by using last year’s receipt to get the detail on the taxes was I able to back into the actual fee.  I felt this was sneaky.

Their Response And My Counterpoints

They wrote back to me within 24 hours.  They were very polite and I was happy that they responded.  Below I’ll outline their points, as well as my eventual counterpoints.

  1. The resort fee has stayed the same since 2014 – OK.  I understand that increases are normal in the mb-2016-12-complaintindustry.  That’s fine with me.
  2. They called the increase ‘slight’ – I pointed out that I have not had a 30% increase in salary since 2014 and guessed that most people, including their own staff, also have not.  I know that it’s ‘only’ $6 per night, but from a percentage increase perspective, 30% is not slight.
  3. The resort fee covers the use of wi-fi – I was fine with this.  I’ve used their wi-fi and it’s never dropped, had weak signal, or been intrusive.  So I am happy to pay for this.
  4. The resort fee covers towels and life jackets – When you’re at the water park, you go through towels constantly.  The kids climb in and out of the pool and you are drying off each time, requiring lots of towels.  They’re constantly wheeling away bins of used towels and bringing new ones.  And, they provide life jackets that the kids can wear which is great.  Again, I completely saw the value here.
  5. The resort fee covers….parking – This is where I started rolling my eyes a bit.  The resorts are not in densely urban areas.  They’re on pretty large swaths of land that have the required number of parking spots to accommodate everyone, even when at full capacity.  I feel that maintaining their parking lots was an overhead item.  It’s definitely something I would pay for as a resort or luxury fee.
  6. The resort fee covers access to a newspaper – I vaguely recall getting a copy of some newspaper outside my door.  I’m sure that most people would gladly forego this if it meant a lower fee.
  7. The resort fee covers access to the fitness center – I’m neutral on this.  I guess I can see how someone might have a particular thing that they want to do.  But, honestly, most of the time we’re there, any calories we are burning are done in the water park.
  8. The resort fee covers in room coffee – OK, I guess so though I usually go down to the Dunkin Donuts and get coffee, and judging by the lines, I’m guessing this is probably something most people do.
  9. The resort provides access to fax machines and local calls – This is the one that got my eyes rolling to the back of my head.  Fax machines?  Local calls?  Really. Don’t tell me that fax machines are used anywhere close to regularly!  And for local calls, I’m guessing that most guests have cell phones and would be just fine to use them.  If either of these services are really amentities, I suggested that most guests would prefer a la carte pricing.

The Real Reason For Resort Fees

The bottom line is that resort fees seems a pretty easy way to pad the bottom line.  I know for a fact that we do not use $52 worth of services above, nor I’m sure do any guests.  I’m guessing it’s probably 10% of that at most.  It’s a pretty simple way for them to keep rate increases smaller but still collect more revenue. Sounds similar to another practice that masks price increases.

Did this or will this stop us from going?  No.  Did my complaning about it change anything?  Of course not. But did it feel good to do the research and at least call them out on it?  It sure did!

Readers, what do you think?  Are resort fees a necessary evil that we shouldn’t think about?  Or should we call the ‘resorts’ out on them?  Have you ever complained or spoken up about the amount of fees charged?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

10 thoughts on “Calling BS On Excessive Resort Fees

  1. We just got back from Orlando last month, staying for a couple of nights at a hotel we booked via Groupon. Our resort fees and parking cost us an extra $100 for the three nights we stayed. I really don’t understand why the extra fees instead of just including it in the cost, But…maybe the resort fees aren’t subject to the same taxes? That might explain why they are pushing so many overhead items as fees instead.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted..2016 Cord-Cutter’s Guide to Family-Friendly Streaming Holiday Movies and TV EpisodesMy Profile

    • If the resort fees were part of the Groupon deal, then they would have to give Groupon a split. By doing it that way, the resort collects 100% of those fees, probably in may ways recouping part of their costs of what they’re spending with Groupon.

  2. I understand resort fees when you are going to an actual resort with actual amenities above and beyond a typical hotel. I would not call parking, a newspaper, local calls, in-room coffee, or faxes (rolling eyes) an amenity above and beyond a typical hotel. For that matter, I wouldn’t even call towels and life jackets at a water park an amenity…more like a necessity! Plus, having the fee hidden would certainly make me see red. I think you were right to complain because unless these resorts start hearing complaints from lots of people, those fees are only going to escalate.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted..It’s Time for Your Year End Financial ReviewMy Profile

    • We’ve been to different places that didn’t have resort fees and when it came to things like towels and even chairs, you had to often pay. I don’t want that. I’m perfectly fine for having that as part of a resort fee. I guess each person has their limit of what they consider reasonable, and yours is even tighter than mine *lol*

    • Thanks. Yes, I agree. I think the fee would have upset me but probably not as much as having to go through and figure it out myself. Of course if they aren’t listing it, I’m sure they know that people would complain.

  3. Hmmmm…. I dunno. Yeah, I would have been irked at a big jump like that. And your point that neither your salary nor their employees’ has jumped 30% is well taken.

    On the other hand, SOME of the excuses they came up with were pretty credible. For example, even though they have plenty of room for parking, an asphalt parking lot can be surprisingly expensive to keep up. If they have a lot of traffic, too, they probably do have some upkeep on it…and they may have some security features in place that they’re telling about.

    “…life jackets”? Hm. Could this be resort code for “insurance premiums”? Bet their insurance rates are staggering. Anyplace whose whole raison d’etre is to put kids in water is at high risk of accidents — and their insurers know it. Got alligators around that place?

    One thing’s for sure, too: if the new presidential administration starts arresting and deporting undocumented workers, the resort’s costs for cleaning, table bussing, landscape maintenance, pool maintenance, and light handyman work are going to go through the stratosphere. They’ll have to raise their rates significantly to cover those increased costs — assuming they can stay in business at all. They may figure to ease the sticker shock by raising prices a little now, so they won’t have to jack them way up all at once.
    Funny about Money recently posted..How to unlock a Toyota…and other small miseriesMy Profile

    • Interesting thoughts.

      I think in this case they’re on the level as far as making sure their workers are on the up. Let’s face it, they have these resorts all over the place, at least here in the Midwest, and I don’t think they’re going to risk investing probably hundreds of millions in capital to save a few bucks. And before you go through the math, I’ll just say that I’ve taken a look and spoken to many of the workers, and I’ll just say that they seem to look and talk in ways that would lead one to believe that they’re probably not illegal immigrants.

      I totally agree that their asphalt parking lot needs regular maintenence. Heck, when we go it usually requires plowing, salting, etc. I’m sure that means it has to be repaved every few years and new lines put in the spots reguarly. I don’t doubt any of that. I just think that’s part of the overhead expense and not a ‘resort fee’. After all, the roof needs to be reshingled. The wood facia needs to be repainted. The lawn needs to be cut. The sign out front needs to be kept up. All of those things are not ‘resort’ type amenities, and I just think that neither is the parking lot. The lot goes in with all of those other items.

Comments are closed.