They hit you like a hammer, when you get your folio at a hotel. Resort fees. You thought you were just paying $159 for your hotel room – plus all kinds of taxes – but lo and behold, you’re stuck with paying resort fees, or “service fees,” or “destination fees,” or “amenities fees.” Apparently, according to a story in The Boston Globe recently, the Kimpton chain even features “good life fees.” This is a major pain point for many travelers. This article is about how to avoid paying those exorbitant hotel and resort fees.
I talked to Anthony Melchiorri about it. Mr. Melchiorri is the producer and host of the hit TV show Hotel Impossible – and he is the epitome all-things-hotels. “Hotels wouldn’t charge resort fees if they couldn’t get away with them,” said Mr. Melchiorri. He said that travelers now are being nickel-and-dimed for all kinds of things. For example, he told me, “Airlines now make more money in baggage fees than in tickets.”
Face It — Who Likes Paying Through The Nose?
For example, The Boston Globe story where I referenced this story ran on July 2, 2019, by Globe correspondent Jon Marcus. In his story Mr. Marcus says that “the amount of money hotels collected from extra charges like these ballooned five-fold last year – to $2.93 billion, according to Bjorn Hanson, a hospitality consultant and former dean of hospitality, tourism and sports management at New York University.”
Here’s What You Can Do
Therefore, so what can you do? Don’t book a hotel with resort fees, and especially, complain to a hotel that shows you the resort fees “late in the reservation process,” says Mr. Melchiorri. “I’m opposed to hiding the resort fees,” says Mr. Melchiorri. He says that if your resort fees have been hidden, “Don’t pay for it. Dispute it if they show them to you after booking and not at the time of booking.”
In other words, complain to management. Go right to the general manager and tell him that you’re upset with the resort fees if they have been hidden to you. He says that if enough travelers speak up, “At the end of the day the rates and resort fees will eventually come down.”
I might add – there’s also something else you can do. As a hotel marketing expert and luxury expert, here’s what I recommend: Visit an all-inclusive resort that offers oceans of amenities – and no resort fees. I’m talking about my very favorite all-inclusive brand in the whole world – Beaches and Sandals Resorts. Here is where everything is included upfront – so you know what you are paying for. You won’t be charged for anything extra, because all kinds of luxuries big and small are included in the price. While other all-inclusives and cruise lies may advertise “all-inclusives,” they often disclaim the hidden costs like tips, government taxes, airport transfers and port charges, specialty dining, upgraded activity charges and any types of instruction. But at Sandals, the only time the word “extra” is used is in the word “extraordinary.”
Sandals Resorts Will Hit Your Sweet Spot
Besides your resort hotel room, your room rate at Sandals (and Beaches Resorts) includes all land and water sports; dining at upgraded specialty restaurants (which are worthy of an any savvy New York foodie); premium liquors and spirits; and use of the magnificent pools with swim-up bars, as well as the breathtakingly beautiful beaches. Oh yes, plus a 24-hour fitness center. Plus scuba diving. And at some of the resorts, even golf greens fees. In fact, the only thing extra you pay for – and it is certainly not hidden – are the fees for spa treatments.
Years ago Sandals broke out of the all-inclusive category to stand alone as the world’s only “Luxury included” vacation, and nowadays it is an undisputed leader in the all-inclusive category. And oh yes, here’s the kicker. There’s no tipping required. So when you butler brings you that special diet ginger beer (which he did for me, countless times), you can rest assured that he’s not looking for that little “extra something.”
I tipped him anyway. And I was very happy to!
Adds Mr. Melchiorri: “More and more people are looking for deals, especially when traveling with children. People don’t want to be nickel-and-dimed and taking their credit card out over and over again.”
In conclusion, here’s the bottom line: Sandals and Beaches Resorts let your wallet take a vacation of its own.