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One of my biggest pet peeves when traveling is paying resort fees, especially at hotels that are NOT resorts. It seems like lots of hotels have started charging extra resort-style fees, sometimes called an amenity fee, destination fee, or facility fee.
For example, I stayed at The Westin New York Grand Central not too long ago, which charges a $25 per night destination fee. And don’t get me started on Las Vegas hotels. I just stayed at The Palazzo in Las Vegas and the nightly resort fee with tax was $51!
And unlike Hyatt hotels, which do NOT charge these fees on award nights, many other chains add the nightly fee when you use points. Even if you have elite status! At least folks with Capital One Venture miles can use their rewards to offset these ridiculous charges.
You might not be able to avoid paying the fees, although sometimes you can if you ask nicely.
I’ll share a few tricks to make resort fees less painful.
Why Do Hotel Resort Fees Exist?
According to Bjorn Hanson, a professor at New York University, US hotels were forecasted to collect $2.7 billion in fees in 2017.
From my research, resort fees began as an optional charge guests would pay to use certain amenities at a hotel. For example, if a guest wanted access to the fitness center, there might be a $5 or $10 per day charge. Over time, resort fees evolved into mandatory charges that are often hidden at the time of booking.
Personally, I find these added fees to be deceiving and a terrible way to attract brand loyalty. There’s even a website dedicated to Killing Resort Fees.
There are a handful of exceptions where you feel like you’re getting something in return for paying a resort fee. For example, on paid stays at the Andaz Maui, you’ll pay a ~$47 per night resort fee and get access to:
- Daily Outrigger Canoe Excursions
- Snorkel equipment unlimited use
- Yoga and Pilates Classes
- Guided Kayak Tours
- Ukulele lessons
- Hula lessons
- 45 minute beach portrait session including a $50 photo credit
- Lei making lessons
- Stand up paddle board lessons
Most often, I found these extra fees to be at hotels that don’t offer much in return.
Million Mile Secrets reader Jerry recommends always using resortfeechecker.com before you book a getaway.
3 Tips for Dealing With Resort Fees
1. Ask for Bonus Points
I’ve found that most hotels are reluctant to waive amenity, destination, or resort fees.
Instead, I ALWAYS ask for points in exchange for paying any extra fees. I typically do this at check-out when the front desk agent asks about my stay. I’ll respond that my stay was good, but I was disappointed that I was forced to pay a fee for amenities that I did not use.
Front desk agents typically have the ability to add points to your loyalty account without manager approval.
Most hotels don’t want to receive negative guest satisfaction feedback. It can actually hurt their standing within the chain. And it seems like goodwill points are an easy gesture hotels offer to ease the pain of paying the resort fees.
In the past, I’ve received bonus points worth a free hotel night just by asking nicely at check-out.
It’s important to be realistic if you follow this strategy. There’s a possibility that the hotel won’t offer you anything. But if you’re persistent and friendly, just simply asking for points can be the trick to making you feel less bitter about paying the extra hotel resort fees!
This is normally how my conversation goes at check-out:
Agent: How was your stay?
Me: (very polite but firm) The stay was great, but I’m not sure I’d recommend this hotel to friends or family because of the resort fees. I didn’t use any of the extra amenities, so I don’t think the mandatory charges are worth it. I also plan on mentioning this in my guest satisfaction survey.
Agent: I’m sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, we’re unable to waive the resort fees.
Keith: Could you consider adding points to my loyalty account instead?
Agent: Sure, we can go ahead and add 5,000 points to your account.
Keith: I greatly appreciate it! I’ll be sure to mention your hospitality in my guest review.
2. Speak With a Hotel Manager
If you truly feel like you received no benefit in exchange for paying the resort fee, I’d definitely consider asking to speak with a manager during your stay.
For example, at check-out during my recent stay at the The Palazzo in Las Vegas, I asked the front desk associate to waive the resort fee. He said he was unable, but that I could speak with a hotel manager.
I kindly told the manager that I was in Las Vegas for a business trip and did not utilize any of the hotel’s amenities (pool, gym, etc.). As a result, I didn’t think it made sense to pay a $51 nightly resort fee.
The manager said they normally do not waive the fee, but he would make an exception and took the charge off my bill.
3. Use Credit Card Rewards to Offset the Fees
When all else fails and you’re forced to pay a resort fee it’s good to have a stash of credit card rewards you can use to offset the charge.
Capital One Venture miles can really come in handy for these types of travel charges. Just pay the charge with a Capital One Venture card. Then, you have 90 days to log-in to your online account, find the travel purchase, and “erase” it with your miles.
You can earn lots of Venture miles by signing-up for Capital One credit cards!
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card comes with 50,000 Venture miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening. You’ll also earn 2 Venture miles per $1 on all purchases! The card comes with a $95 annual fee, waived the first year. Here’s our full review of the Capital One Venture card.
The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card comes with 20,000 Venture miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening. The card only earns 1.25 Venture miles per $1. But there is NO annual fee. Here’s our full review of the Capital One VentureOne card.
Resort fees are a huge money maker for hotels in the US! For miles & points enthusiasts, at least chains like Hyatt do NOT charge extra fees on award night.
It’s difficult to get around paying amenity, destination, facility, or resort fees if you’re on a paid stay or using points at most major hotel chains. But I’ve found the trick is to asking for free points in exchange for paying the silly fees.
You can also ask to speak with a manager to see if they’ll consider taking the resort fee charge off your bill, especially if you feel like you didn’t use any of the hotel amenities (pool, gym, etc.). This worked for me recently in Las Vegas.
Or you can redeem easy to use credit rewards, like Capital One Venture miles to offset resort fee charges on your credit card statement.
Do you have any tips on navigating around mandatory hotel fees? I’d love to hear your tricks in the comments!