HONOLULU, Hawaii — According to Travel Hawaii LLC (http://Travel-Hawaii.com), a leading Hawaii Internet booking service, over 16 of Hawaii’s leading hotels – mainly high end resorts – charge mandatory “Resort Fees” of up to $26 per day that are automatically added to guests’ bills upon checkout. These fees can cause “checkout sticker shock” if guests don’t include them in their pre-trip cost calculations. And often the hotels’ own web sites don’t make such fees apparent.
For example, at the Grand Wailea Resort on Maui, guests are charged a Resort Fee of $25 per night (plus 4% tax). In exchange, guests receive a lei greeting and refreshment upon arrival, local & 800 number phone calls, in-room Internet access, in-room coffee, fitness center use, various free classes and tours, nightly turndown service, and self-parking.
That sounds like a great value, and it could be if guests are interested in those types of amenities. But other hotels offer similar amenities and don’t charge an extra dime for them. For example, the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel on the Big Island uses as a selling point that it doesn’t charge a Resort Fee, and yet provides a host of free extras similar to those at the Grand Wailea.
Barbara Gillespie of Toronto, a client of Travel Hawaii who recently stayed at the Sheraton Maui (Resort Fee: $18.75), had this to say: “Given the fact that the hotel charges a fair amount for their rooms to begin with we did feel that the daily resort fee was a bit much, especially considering they still charged for such things as beach chairs, and snorkeling equipment. We self parked every day and did not use Internet service in our room so to us the value of that daily fee just was not there.”
On the other hand, some guests think Resort Fees provide a good value. “We definitely think the Westin’s $20 per day Resort Fee was well worth it,” said Carol Wright of Riverside, California, who recently stayed at the Westin Maui. “We have been to Maui many times and on this trip decided to spend our time enjoying the resort rather than doing a lot of sightseeing. We really made use of the fitness center.”
“Whether a Resort Fee is a great value or not, the important thing is that clients be clearly informed about the Resort Fee before they finalize their hotel booking,” says John Lindelow, owner of Travel Hawaii.
In this spirit of empowering clients with information, Travel Hawaii maintains a special web page at http://Travel-Hawaii.com/hawaiiresortfees.html that lists all of the Resort Fees at Hawaii hotels, and exactly what guests receive for paying such fees. In addition, each hotel’s web page on Travel Hawaii’s site clearly spells out the Resort Fee and what it provides.
So why do so many Hawaii hotels charge Resort Fees and risk the wrath of guests who feel they’ve been misled or nickel and dimed? “I’ve heard three reasons,” said Lindelow, “First, by breaking out some of their expenses as a Resort Fee, the hotels can avoid paying the State’s tax of 7.25% on that portion. Second, the hotels don’t have to pay commission to travel agents on what they charge for Resort Fees; and third, the hotels can make it seem like they have lower overall prices by advertising the room rate only and then adding the Resort Fee only when the client checks out.”
In recent years, several class action suits have been filed against major hotel chains, such as Hilton, Marriott, and Starwood, mostly having to do with the hotels not fully disclosing their resort fees at booking time. Most of those suits have been settled. “Let’s hope those days are behind us,” said Lindelow, “and that full disclosure is the name of the game from this point forward.”
About Travel Hawaii LLC
Founded in 1997, Travel Hawaii has become a leading Internet booking service for consumers wishing to vacation in Hawaii. Travel Hawaii maintains sophisticated online booking systems and databases focused on Hawaii travel.
More Information: http://Travel-Hawaii.com
All trademarks acknowledged.
[tags]Travel Hawaii LLC, hotel Resort Fee[/tags]