Hotel Resort Fees: How to Find Them and How to Avoid Them

What Is a Hotel Resort Fee, and Do I Have to Pay It?

Hotel resort fees may cover pool use, daily newspapers and local calls.
••• Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Travelers are increasingly aware of the fees that air carriers are adding to the price of an airline ticket. But did you know that this trend is spreading through the hotel community, too?

Many hotels are now charging mandatory "resort fees" that can cost as much as $35 per room per night. These fees can include all kinds of items and privileges, ranging from local telephone calls to internet access to the coffee maker in your hotel room.

Parking may or may not be included in this daily resort fee. It can be very difficult, sometimes impossible, to find out whether or not your hotel charges a resort fee before you book your room.

What Does a Resort Fee Cover, Exactly?

The short answer is: The resort fee covers whatever the hotel wants it to cover. In some hotels, the resort fee gives you gym or pool access. In others, it allows you to use the in-room safe or the coffee maker. Some hotels state that their resort fees cover the cost of local calls, pool towels, minibar items, wireless internet access or a daily newspaper. Others include airport shuttle service, fitness classes and even beach access in their resort fees.

What if I Don't Intend to Use These Items or Privileges During My Stay?

You may be able to negotiate directly with your hotel if you don't intend to use the items or services covered by the resort fee. The best time to do this is when you are checking in.

Ask about the resort fee and what it covers. Explain that you don't plan to take advantage of these services and ask to have the fee waived. This tactic may or may not work; you may have to pay the resort fee even if you never touch the in-room safe or jump into the pool.

You can also email your hotel's manager and ask to have the resort fee charge removed from your bill.

Your final option is to dispute the resort fee with your credit card company, assuming you have paid your hotel bill with a credit card.

How Can I Find Out Whether My Hotel Charges a Resort Fee?

Look at the hotel's website to see if resort fee information is provided. Some hotels include this information and explain what the resort fee covers. Other hotel websites do not mention resort fees at all; in fact, the resort fee might not even be included on the reservation page, even though room rates and taxes are displayed. Despite the fact that the US Federal Trade Commission has stated that hotels' "drip pricing" or "partitioned pricing" strategies (in this case, disclosure of hotel resort fees only at the final stage of the reservation process, not during the room rate search process) harm consumers because they increase search and cognitive costs, US law does not require hotels to disclose resort fees in the initial phase of the booking process.

If you are traveling to a popular US destination, such as Las Vegas, you can look up hotel resort fees before you start searching for a room at ResortFeeChecker.com. This website provides resort fee and property information for approximately 2,000 hotels.

Otherwise, you will probably need to go through the room search process online, by telephone or with your travel agent and get information about the resort fee as you move through that process.

The quickest way to find out about resort fees is to call the hotel and ask the front desk staff before you book your room. Ask what the resort fee includes and find out whether you can get the charge taken off your bill if you don't use the items or services it covers.

Beware the Minibar

You probably know that you will be charged for any food or beverage items you take out of the minibar. But did you know that some hotel minibars come equipped with sensors that can detect whether items have been moved? If you move anything, you will be charged for it. Be sure to check your hotel bill carefully so that you will not have to pay for items you did not consume.

How Can I Avoid Paying Resort Fees?

The best way to avoid resort fees is to stay at hotels that do not impose them. If you call a hotel and discover that a resort fee will be added to your bill, consider mentioning that you prefer to stay at properties that do not charge this type of fee, so that management understands exactly why you did not book your room there.