Ah, the dreaded and controversial resort fee: that mandatory, extra cost tacked onto a guest’s daily room charge. Since the 1990s, charging a resort fee has become commonplace for hotels in tourist destinations like Las Vegas, Hawaii and the Caribbean, and appear on the bill whether or not the services they cover have been used. After a few days' stay, those additional fees can come as a big surprise when it's time to settle up, potentially padding, on average, a 30% mark-up - or, hundreds of additional dollars - to the final tab.
However, it's not always easy to find out if a hotel charges a resort fee, or how much. If booking a hotel online, always check the fine print at the very end of the process. And, for consumers who reserve through a search tool like Expedia or Travelocity, the resort fees are never included in the listed price.
Recently, however, consumers have started to push back on these extra charges and some hospitality brands have listened. The ARRIVE Palm Springs, for instance, charges no resort fee above the published room rate for its amenities.
So, as you can see, the actual costs of these resort fees vary wildly from hotel to hotel, even within the same city, and what they cover varies just as much. To give you a bit of an idea, here are some hotels for comparison:
The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, Nevada Resort fee: $30 Includes: Standard high-speed internet access, 24-hour fitness center access, tennis court access, unlimited local toll-free and domestic long distance calls.
The Tropicana Las Vegas, Nevada Resort fee: $25 Includes: Internet access, fitness center access, Happy Hour drink specials, parking, discounted tickets to award-winning shows, 2 bottles of water per stay, select business services.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa Kauai, Hawaii Resort fee: $30 Includes: Wired and wireless in-room internet access; access for two to the fitness center; self parking; unlimited local and 800 phone calls; one hour tennis court time; 10% discount on select merchandise at Anara Spa, the tennis center, Poipu Bay Golf Pro Shop, and Captain Andy's Lagon Side Hut; 10% discount on business center internet access; souvenir Grand Hyatt Kauai Luggage Tag available at the Logo Shop at the Tennis Center; local newspaper (available at front desk and elevator landings).
Sheraton Waikiki Resort Oahu, Hawaii Resort fee: $31.41 Includes: High-speed internet access in guest room; Self parking; Unlimited local and 1-800 telephone calls; Up to 60 minutes of long distance and international telephone calls per day; Adult pool floats; Fresh fruit served twice daily by pool staff at the Infinity Pool; Use of MP3 player featuring Hawaiian music; Use of portable DVD player with 8-inch screen and selected newly released movies; Fitness Classes; Children 12 and under eat for free from the children’s menu at designated dining outlets; Collections of Waikiki coupons; 4X6 color photograph per room.
Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, California Resort fee: $36 Includes: Pool access, spa access, fitness center access, shuttle service, business center/computer access, Internet access, phone calls, in-room safe, in-room coffee, concierge/valet service, housekeeping
The Riviera Palm Springs, California Resort fee: $35 Includes: Pool access, spa access, fitness center access, business center/computer access, Internet access, phone calls, newspaper, in-room coffee, housekeeping.
Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Orlando, Florida Resort fee: $16.95 Includes: Fitness center access, children's club/arcade access, shuttle service, business center/computer access, phone calls, in-room safe, self-parking, lending library access.
Dorchester Hotel Miami, Florida Resort fee: $15 Includes: Beach loungers, business center, internet, phone calls.
Hotel Diva San Francisco, California Resort Fee: $15 Includes: Fitness center, business center, internet access, phone calls, bottled water.