Resort Fees at Hawaii Hotels
Cause 'Checkout Sticker Shock'
HONOLULU, June 11, 2007 - 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
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
to 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,
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."
"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."
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