Resort Fees On Award Stays – Which Hotels Charge Them? (Guide)

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Resort Fees On Award Stays - Who Charges Them & Who Doesn't?

Resort Fees On Award Stays – Which Hotels Charge Them? (Guide)

No one wants to pay resort fees, much less resort fees on award stays. How can we avoid them? Here’s a look at who doesn’t and who doesn’t charge resort fees on award stays. We’ll also look at any other ways to get out of these extra fees.

What Are Resort Fees?

To be blunt, resort fees are not the elaborate fees you think of with “all inclusive” properties. You might be thinking this covers all the “unlimited food, unlimited drinks” at those all-inclusive properties. This is not that.

We also aren’t talking about mandatory fees like taxes or transportation to the hotel. I had to pay for a ride on a sea plane to get to my hotel in the Maldives, because that’s the only way to get there. This is not a resort fee and won’t be waived in any circumstance, because the hotel has to pay this to the transportation company.

So, what are resort fees?

We recently addressed resort fees in a podcast. Resort fees are an “extra” that hotels tack onto a booking so they get to keep more of your money. In short, if you book through Expedia or Hotels.com, the hotel has to give them some of the money on the “price of the room”. But the “resort fee”? The hotel keeps all of that. Thus, they add on “resort fees” for items you really shouldn’t be paying for, and this pads their profits. Surprisingly, most “resort fees” are for things you would totally expect to be included for free in your stay. And you’ll pay the fee whether you use those ‘perks’ or not. A great example is a recent stay where my wife and I had to pay a fee in NYC for newspapers in the hotel lobby + wifi in our hotel room.

Luckily, hotels must be more clear about these prices now than they used to.

Resort Fees On Award Stays - Who Charges Them & Who Doesn't?
Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

Resort Fees On Award Stays

Obviously, if we don’t have to pay the fee, that’s more money we can keep for ourselves. One of the main ways to avoid resort fees is through an award stay. If you use a free night certificate or points to stay somewhere, many hotels often waive the resort fee for your stay. Here’s a look at who charges and who doesn’t charge resort fees on award stays.

Hilton

If you book an award stay with Hilton, you won’t pay resort fees. Whether you’re paying with points or free night certificates, the destination / resort fees are waived.

Hyatt

Like Hilton, Hyatt also waives the fees on award stays. Additionally, they waive resort fees on paid (cash) stays for Globalist members.

IHG

Bad news: IHG will not waive resort fees on award stays.

Marriott

Bad news: Marriott will not waive resort fees on award stays.

What’s interesting is that many hotels list wifi as one of the items in your resort fee. The Marriott terms state that you should receive a replacement perk for this, since wifi should be free for loyalty members. One Mile At A Time has a write-up about this and the fact most hotels have no idea this is in the Marriott terms. They can’t charge you for a free perk, so they must offer you something else (discount, other item, points, etc.) in its place.

Resort Fees On Award Stays - Who Charges Them & Who Doesn't?
Booking prices at Radisson all-inclusive property. There are no resort fees.

Radisson

Radisson does not charge resort fees on award stays. That even applies to their new all-inclusive property in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Wyndham

According to policy, Wyndham is supposed to waive resort fees. However, some hotels don’t know this, and plenty of data suggests people get charged the fees anyway. Make sure you check your bill and know the terms. Be prepared to show this to the hotel to have the fees removed from your final bill.

Resort Fees On Award Stays - Who Charges Them & Who Doesn't?

Final Thoughts

It’s always interesting when a free hotel stay turns out to cost money. I understand there may be required taxes, and I’m fine with paying those. What doesn’t make sense is a hotel charging resort fees on award stays. While the fees may be small and won’t break the bank, make sure you know in advance. Some chains are sneaky (looking at you, IHG!) and make it very difficult to find the fee before you confirm the reservation. On the other end of the spectrum, Hyatt waives resort fees on award stays and also on cash stays for their elite members.

Bottom line: know what you’re paying for (and what you SHOULD be paying for) in advance. This helps you and the hotel avoid surprises.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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10 COMMENTS

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Just confirming it is still the case effective 7/4/2021. Resort fees are waived when booking with the Hilton Aspire rewards night certificate. Anyone can confirm this? Desk agent said she would “waive” the resort fee and did me a favor, but I need to know because I was charged for the dining charges in lieu of resort fees being waived (due to a different issue). Thank you in advance.

    • Wai – yes, the resort fees should be waived. I’m not sure why they’re pretending like you got a favor, since this is policy…? But yes it should always be this way on free nights, points nights, certificates, etc.

  2. IHG no longer waive resort fees on award stays? Does this include free night certificate and when did this start as it’s always been waived with my free night certificate

  3. Where would I find documentation that “Hyatt also waives the fees on award stays.”? How would you suggest handling a situation where you get to the hotel and find the hotel tacking on the resort fee at checkout?

    • It’s right here in their terms. In fact, it’s in a super easy to read chart of benefits, saying resort fees are waived on free nights – https://world.hyatt.com/content/gp/en/tiers-and-benefits.html#charts
      if it were me, I’d say I’m not paying it. Be polite but firm and show them this info from Hyatt. If the employee still wants to charge you, speak to the manager and point out that this is right there in the Hyatt terms.
      If the manager insists that you pay? You’ll likely have to pay and fight it with Hyatt corporate. I’d keep notes if it comes to that (employee names, date, time, keep a copy of the bill, etc.)

  4. I currently have a Sapphire Reserve card and secure messaged Chase to product change to Freedom Flex so I could apply for the Sapphire Preferred in a few weeks. Received the response below. Any concern about their use of the term “detailed review” or is this standard?

    David, we’re happy to help you change your account to our Freedom Flex credit card, but we cannot do this by email because it requires a detailed review of your account and additional questions. Your account will be reviewed and you will receive a pro-rated annual fee refund for your Sapphire Reserve credit card. Please call us at the number on the back of your card to get started. We accept operator relay calls.

    • Platini – while they do have a lot of hotels, 1) they have no co-branded credit card that makes earning points with them super easy, 2) their only transfer partner is Capital One, and it’s at the worst rate of any Capital One partner. For this reason, it’s not as simple having a bunch of their points for a resort stay as with the other ones we covered in this article. We discussed whether or not to include Accor and decided not to for these reasons.
      I do see that some Accor hotels charge resort fees but have no first-hand experience to share on whether they will enforce those during an award stay.

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