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A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Marriott began displaying resort fees when searching for rooms. Prior to this, a hotel that cost $250 a night might end up closer to $400 after resort fees and taxes are added. Pennsylvania and Texas attorneys general settled with Marriott and the changes went into effect quickly. Now, the Texas Attorney General has his eyes on Hyatt “for violating Texas consumer protection laws by marketing hotel rooms at prices that were not available to the public as advertised.”
The lawsuit specifically calls out Hyatt’s charging added hidden fees as resort fees, amenity fees, or destination fees on top of nightly room rates. Fees say that they include everything from fitness center access to free Wi-Fi, but these charges were added whether a guest used them or not.
The Texas lawsuit calls out resort fees charged at San Antonio’s Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa and the Hyatt Residence Club San Antonio, Wild Oak Ranch. These charge $40.86 nightly (a $35 resort fee plus taxes) and a $25.69 resort fee ($22 nightly plus taxes). Hyatt includes taxes with the resort fee, noting that it is actually part of the room rate and not a separate charge.
This is big money when looked at in aggregate. The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa would make as much as $7.5 million annually and the Hyatt Residence Club San Antonio, Wild Oak Ranch would bring in around $2.7 million from resort fees. Hyatt will make similar arguments to Marriott, but will likely fare the same way and need to start disclosing these fees early in the booking process. We’ll see how this plays out.
Anthony’s Take: Resort fees are nothing more than a money grab. They bring in huge amounts of revenue for properties with charges that are levied for everything from using a fitness center to Wi-Fi and in some cases food and beverage or dry cleaning credits that see great breakage in not being used. I’ve said for a long time that the hotel rate should just be increased as these fees don’t sit right. Now it looks like we’ll see more disclosure from hotels when booking rooms.
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