Making a hotel reservation used to be straightforward. You found a hotel you liked, chose a reasonable nightly rate and paid for it after reviewing all the taxes and fees. Now it’s a bit more complicated, with properties adding resort fees that get charged separately.
Resort fees are just one of the many annoying travel fees jacking up the cost of your vacation, with some travelers arguing that they’re unnecessary and poorly disclosed. These fees are supposed to cover run-of-the-mill amenities like hotel gym access and Wi-Fi, which some would argue should be included in the nightly rate. But they’re not—and more hotels are adding them as a means to increase revenue without raising room rates.
Over a multi-night stay, resort fees can add up to hundreds of dollars in addition to your room rate and other expenses. But you don’t have to be at the mercy of hotels when it comes to resort fees. There are ways you can get around these pesky fees and keep your travel budget intact.
Here’s everything you need to know about resort fees and how to avoid them.
What are resort fees?
Resort fees range from $25-$50 per night and are imposed by hotels and resorts for amenities like pools, tennis courts, gyms and internet access. Sometimes they’re disguised under alternate names, like “destination” and “urban” fees.
You can usually spot resort fees on the hotel booking page, alongside taxes and fees. Some properties do a good job of prominently displaying these fees on the room selection page, so guests are aware of what they’re paying in advance.
Many large Vegas hotels have begun charging resort fees in recent years. While Vegas hotel rooms are often cheap or even comped, mandatory resort fees of $30-$50 per night allow hotels to generate room revenue from all guests. Vegas hotels that charge resort fees include Caesar’s Palace, Delano, Encore, Excalibur and Mandalay Bay.
In some cases, these fees do get you additional perks. For example, Wynn includes complimentary valet parking in the daily resort fee. That’s pretty close to what most Vegas hotels charge for valet parking, so the resort fee might be justified if you valet park your car.
In most cases, however, resort fees don’t bring much, if any, value. As you can imagine, these fees are quite controversial among travelers. There’s been a rise in resort fees at both city hotels and beach resorts, and the reasoning isn’t always solid. For example, the amenities they’re supposed to cover should be included in the nightly room rate. Hotel gyms and internet access are standard amenities that guests shouldn’t be paying extra for.
But regardless of what travelers think, resort fees are here to stay. Luckily, there are ways you can get around paying them.
How can you avoid resort fees?
You can avoid paying resort fees in a myriad of ways. Some of them require a bit of research and advanced planning. Others are as simple as picking up the phone. No matter which method you use, it’s worth a try. Resort fees can add up substantially over a multi-night stay. Wouldn’t you rather put that $25-$50 nightly fee toward a nice dinner or spa treatment?
Stay at hotels that don’t charge resort fees
The simplest way to avoid resort fees is to stay at hotels that don’t charge them. Easier said than done, right? Except, ResortFeeChecker.com takes the hassle out of this process. Simply head over to the site, enter your hotel name and you’ll get a list of fees the property charges. This includes deposits, breakfast, parking, extra bedding and more.
If you search by city, you’ll get a list of properties along with their daily resort fees. This can help you quickly determine which hotels to avoid if you don’t want to pay resort fees.
Book your hotel with points
If you’re staying at Hilton, Hyatt or Wyndham hotels, you’ll be pleased to know they waive resort fees on award bookings. Simply use your points to book a room and the resort fee will be waived. This is a great way to save money on a vacation because you’ll not only get a free room but also save around $50 per night in fees.
Saving money on resort fees is great, but you also want to make sure you’re getting maximum value from your hard-earned hotel points. Before booking a hotel with points, be sure to check paid rates first. Reviewing point valuations against nightly rates (including resort fees) helps you ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck (or hotel points).
While valuations aren’t everything, in general, you should expect (and aim) to get the following values out of your hotel points:
- Hilton Honors: 0.6 cents per point
- IHG Rewards: 0.5 cents per point
- Marriott Bonvoy: 0.8 cents per point
- World of Hyatt: 1.7 cents per point
- Wyndham Rewards: 1.1 cents per point
Leverage elite status
Hotel elite status gets you lots of perks, like complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, bonus points and—you guessed it—waived resort fees. Hyatt is currently the only hotel chain waiving resort fees for their top-tier elites. However, with over 1,000 properties worldwide, finding a Hyatt hotel to avoid resort fees shouldn’t be too difficult.
Getting status doesn’t have to be an uphill climb. Hyatt offers mid-tier Discoverist status to all World of Hyatt credit cardholders, one reason it ranks among the best hotel credit cards. You can even spend your way to top-tier Globalist status with the card. You’ll earn five elite night credits every calendar year and earn two elite nights for every $5,000 spent.
The nice thing about Hyatt Globalist status is that you can match it to MGM Rewards Gold. So on your next trip to Vegas, you’ll get resort fees waived at resorts like the Aria, Bellagio, Delano, MGM Grand and more.
Of course, you’ll want to weigh the World of Hyatt Credit Card’s $95 annual fee against the resort fee savings, as well as the numerous perks offered by the card. You’ll also want to weigh the spending requirement and figure out whether it makes sense for you to put that much spending on this specific card (and give up earning more flexible rewards) in order to earn Globalist status.
Ask for a waiver
If all other avenues fail, you can always reach out to the hotel and see if they’ll waive the resort fees. With hotels cutting back on amenities due to the pandemic, you can probably make a good case for why they shouldn’t charge resort fees. After all, if the hotel pool is closed or the gym is not operating, it doesn’t make sense for guests to be paying for those services. The motto “It never hurts to ask” applies to virtually any scenario, including getting resort fees waived.
If you’re staying for a brief period and not making use of the hotel’s amenities, that could also be worth pointing out as grounds for a resort fee waiver.
You can also point out competitor hotels that aren’t charging resort fees (using the handy ResortFeeChecker tool). That may convince some properties to waive the fees for you. It’s always best to reach out to a manager, as they are more empowered to accommodate requests like this than the reservations agents might be.
The bottom line
Justified or not, resort fees are an unfortunate cost most of us will encounter during our travels. But they don’t have to get in the way of a great vacation. You can work these pesky fees into your travel budget or do your best to avoid them altogether.
Resort fees are listed on the checkout page when you make a reservation. Confirming the charges means you’ve agreed to pay those fees and you can’t renege unless you cancel the reservation. You can try asking the hotel manager for a waiver, but these fees generate substantial revenue. If hotels make a habit of waiving them, they lose out on that.
Third-party booking sites do not include resort fees in their nightly rates, but they usually disclose them on the booking page. Orbitz lists resort fees on their room selection page, while Expedia and Priceline list them on the checkout page. Try to book a hotel that doesn’t charge resort fees or book with a chain that waives fees for elite members or award bookings.