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:
- 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.
- 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.
- The resort fee has stayed the same since 2014 – OK. I understand that increases are normal in the industry. That's fine with me.
- They called the increase ‘slight' – I pointed out that I have not had a 30% increase in salary since 2014. Who has? I know that it's ‘only' $6 per night, but from a percentage increase perspective, 30% is not slight.
- Wi-Fi – I was fine with this. I've used their wi-fi and it's never dropped. So I am happy to pay for this.
- Towels and life jackets. There is value here. Towel use is plentiful in water parks. You get out of the pool over and over, and a fresh towel is nice each time. So, fine.
- Parking – This is where I started rolling my eyes a bit. The resorts are not in densely urban areas. They're in the middle of a suburban area. Charging for parking is a total cash grab.
- Newspaper – Newspapers kind of suck these days. I have no desire to read one at home, let alone spend time on vacation.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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?