Excerpt from Inc.
When is the advertised rate for a hotel not the advertised rate?
Pretty much all the time.
Hotels have been getting away with one particular trick for so long that it appears they have more fun finding new names for it than anything else.
It first struck me in Miami.
My bill was suddenly adorned with a so-called Resort Fee.
I had one tiny issue with this.
There was no resort.
The hotel was very pleasant, but had no additional facilities. It didn't even serve breakfast.
Yet here was a $25 a night fee blessing my bill.
Was the hotel charging me for the fact that the beach and the ocean weren't far away?
The practice, though, has far outgrown places that might even claim the idea of offering some sort of resort experience.
Why, New York hotels are positively leaping onto the nightly-fee-for-nothing bandwagon.
At the Westin New York, for example, there's a Destination Fee. $25 a night, presumably for having made it to your destination.
The Marriott Marquis enjoys the same epithet and fee. Yet it gives you "US15 Fresh Bites credit/enhanced Internet/1 tour ticket and more."
I wonder how many people are desperate to use a Fresh Bites Credit, which is merely an enticement to spend more on no-doubt extremely fresh bites.
The Hilton New York Midtown, though, gets even more creative.
It exclaims: "Daily Mandatory Charge will be added to the room rate and includes: Urban Destination Charge with premium guest internet access (3 devices); daily $15 beverage credit in Lobby Lounge or Bridges Bar; daily $10 food credit in Herb N' Kitchen (grab and go only); local and toll-free calls."
Yes, free local and toll-free calls. Because you're desperate to use that hotel phone, aren't you? Everyone does. Landlines are in, right?
And all for $25 per room per night. Whether you like it or not.
I ask you. Urban Destination Charge.
So country hotels would have a Countryside Destination Charge?
Might there be an Exurb Destination Charge too?
I contacted Hilton to ask about this creative addition.
A spokeswoman told me: "Hilton is testing the urban destination fee at two New York City properties. The fee is for amenities and services that we believe enhance the guest experience."
I hate to be pedantic, but shouldn't any charge that is mandatory be part of the guest experience known as the room rate?
And, seriously, free local and 1-800 phone calls? This is some sort of heightening of the guest experience?
What these fees actually do is allow hotels to charge more and attempt to avoid sharing that revenue with, say, a travel agent.
Some hotels like to call it a Facilities Fee. Some try other words.
When it comes to New York City, ResortFeeChecker.com tells me there are at least 51 hotels in on the gouging.