How to Spot Those Pesky (and Expensive) Lodging Fees

Rather than bundling them into room rates, many hotels have made resort fees more explicit. The Phoenician, a Marriott Luxury Collection resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., for example, has a resort fee page on its website, indicating what guests get for their daily fee of $45 per room fee: Wi-Fi (worth, it states, $14.95), morning yoga ($30), one hour of tennis ($75), one hour of pickleball ($75), bikes ($35) and a craft beer tasting.

Hotels have yet to recover from the pandemic — according to the A.H.L.A., room revenue is expected to be down nearly $44 billion in 2021 compared to 2019 — potentially making fees more attractive.

“My research shows that large, full-service, resort hotels have been hurt particularly badly by Covid, and they’re still reeling from its effects,” wrote John W. O’Neill, a professor and the director of the Hospitality Real Estate Strategy Group at Pennsylvania State University, in an email. He added that some have adopted “partitioned pricing,” the kinds of fees that are mandatory but earmarked for a service, like baggage fees at airlines or resort fees that cover Wi-Fi and more at hotels.

For now, some have put fees on hold. The new Hilton Santa Monica Hotel & Suites, where amenities include a rooftop pool, has waived the standard resort fee, and charges $9.95 for basic Wi-Fi and $14.95 for faster service. It doesn’t plan to add the $39 charge until 2023, which will then also cover beach yoga and loaner bikes.

Mohonk Mountain House in New York’s Hudson Valley recently dropped its 15 percent administration fee. To cover the costs of rising wages and supplies, it plans to increase rates in 2022 by about 7 percent.

Though intense cleaning has proved not nearly as important as mask-wearing and air circulation in preventing the spread of Covid-19, nonetheless fortified cleaning protocols remain in place across the accommodation spectrum. Among vacation rentals, the extra cleaning required of the pandemic took more time and materials, pushing guest fees up.

“When the world opened up again, the cleaning requirements needed to be improved,” said Joseph DiTomaso, the founder and chief executive of AllTheRooms, a vacation rental market analytics firm, which found that cleaning fees have been rising since 2017 but accelerated after October 2020, when travel began to rebound. “It’s an incremental cost being passed through.”