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
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.
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.
Like Hilton, Hyatt also waives the fees on award stays. Additionally, they waive resort fees on paid (cash) stays for Globalist members.
Bad news: IHG will not waive resort fees on award stays.
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.
Radisson does not charge resort fees on award stays. That even applies to their new all-inclusive property in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
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.
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.