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It’s Time to Put the Kibosh on Hotel Resort Fees

SmarterTravel

The Luxor hotel, a stone’s throw from the Las Vegas airport, isn’t what most travelers would call a resort. Sure, it has a pool, but so does the nearby Motel 6. And no one is likely to mistake the Vegas Strip for Bali Hai.

For whatever reasons, the Luxor was designated as the go-to hotel for an upcoming reunion of my extended family, and I dutifully logged onto the hotel’s website to check availability and rates. For three nights, over a long weekend, the rate for a basic room would be $396. A bit high for an older and somewhat threadbare hotel, I thought. But such are the sacrifices we make in the interest of family unity.

However, when I clicked through to the next screen in the booking process, I was informed that the total for the three nights would be $530.88, 34 percent higher than the initially quoted rate. Even allowing for taxes and fees—which should have been included in the original quote—the increase was eye-popping. The bulk of the extra cost, it turned out, was due to the $29.12-a-day resort fee.

To be clear: that’s $29.12 a day for amenities I had no intention of using. And there’s no way to opt out; the fees are mandatory.

Mandatory resort fees are a gouge and a misrepresentation, a sleazy way to keep published prices low while forcing consumers to pay higher rates. They should either be outlawed altogether, or, what amounts to the same thing, folded into the published room rate.

Not surprisingly, I’m not alone in my distaste for this unethical practice. A recent poll undertaken by Travelers United found that “80 percent believe hotels and resorts should be required to include mandatory resort fees in the daily room rate to enable them to comparison shop before they book a room.”

That’s nothing more than simple transparency, which consumers have a right to expect as a given. Since it’s not, it’s time for the Federal Trade Commission to act on its warning of 2012:

The Federal Trade Commission has warned 22 hotel operators that their online reservation sites may violate the law by providing a deceptively low estimate of what consumers can expect to pay for their hotel rooms… Consumers are entitled to know in advance the total cost of their hotel stay. So-called ‘drip pricing’ charges, sometimes portrayed as ‘convenience’ or ‘service’ fees, are anything but convenient, and businesses that hide them are doing a huge disservice to American consumers.

In the meantime, hotel nuisance fees continue to proliferate. A recent study by NYU’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism is projecting a 5 percent increase in fees charged by U.S. hotels, from $2.35 billion in 2014 to $2.47 billion this year.

As for my Luxor booking, it’s on hold. My inclination is to give my business to the local Courtyard by Marriott, which offers solidly dependable value, and a pool, with no resort fees. But that means I won’t be running into my cousins, nieces, and nephews in the buffet line at the Luxor. Oh, the things we do for family…

Reader Reality Check

Should I bite my tongue and pay Luxor’s extortionate resort fees, or stand on principle and spurn any hotels that impose the fees?

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This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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