Hotels are making billions from added fees

Go Lean Commentary

CU Blog - Hotels are making billions from added fees - Photo 1

The attack on the middle class continues…

The foregoing news article/VIDEO relates to the middle class in the US. Normally this would not be an issue for the Caribbean to consider except this story is relating the pressures on the customer base that the region relies on for its primary economic driver: tourism.

Plus most Caribbean resorts also apply a “resort fee”.

By: NBC News – The Today Show
How hotels are making billions from added fees –
Hotels are taking a page from the airline industry, and it’s costing consumers a lot more. The fees added up to $2.5 billion just last year. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

This subject is pivotal in the roadmap for elevation of the Caribbean economy, which maintains that tourism will continue to be the primary economic driver in the region for the foreseeable future. The book Go Lean…Caribbean calls for the elevation of Caribbean society, to re-focus, re-boot, and optimize all the engines of commerce so as to make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play. The Caribbean has become a playground for the US. So we cannot, indeed we must not ignore the middle class.

What is important in this discussion is the functionality of economic planning. Already the attacks on the middle class has shrunk their disposable income, retirement savings and buying power. We need to continue to monitor the progress of this economic group. This effort (the foregoing VIDEO and the Appendix) is an iteration in this monitoring charter.

The Great Recession came and went. The US lost $11 Trillion in the crisis, then gained $13.5 Trillion in the recovery (Go Lean book Page 69). Unfortunately the ones that lost are not the ones that gained. The world has changed; the middle class has shrunk, the poor has expanded, and the One Percent has expanded in affluence and influence.

So the markets that Caribbean tourism planners cater to have now changed. The Great Recession should have been a lesson enough for the Caribbean to develop a more resilient economy, to be nimble in strategies, tactics and implementation. Unfortunately, the experience (and the following list) shows that the planners are repeating the same mistakes and following the same bad American model. The following are resort fees of what are considered the best properties in the Caribbean, according to the US-based cable TV Travel Channel (

Preface: Top 10 Caribbean Resorts

Welcome to paradise. We’re counting down Caribbean resorts with crystal-clear waters, powder-soft sands, sumptuous settings and world-class accommodations. These aren’t your average cookie-cutter beachfront hotels either. These Caribbean hot spots rank among the most luxurious and lavish in the world:

Resort Property

Resort Fee


Hyatt Regency, Aruba Resort & Casino

– $0.00 –


CaneelBay, St. John, US Virgin Island

10% Service Fee


Parrot Cay By Como, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands

– $0.00 –


Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands



Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort and Spa, Providenciales

All   Inclusive


Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands



Four Seasons Resort, Pinney’s Beach, Charlestown, Nevis

$33.85 + $20.00


Atlantis, ParadiseIsland, Nassau, Bahamas

$20.70 – $65.95


Sandy Lane, St. James, Barbados

– $0.00 –


Hotel Maroma, Cancun, Mexico St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico


According to the foregoing VIDEO and article in the Appendix, there are major issues in the acceptance of hotel resort fees. In the US, complaints have been made to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the US watchdog for deceptive business practices. Despite some queries, there has been no definitive regulatory action.

CU Blog - Hotels are making billions from added fees - Photo 2We must do better in the Caribbean. The fear is that these practices may lead more to embrace “cruises” as their mode for enjoying Caribbean shores. This may be how the US middle class “plays” in the Caribbean.

What is wrong with cruises? Nothing … per se. We welcome all visitors that come to the region. As it is, the Go Lean book describes 80 million visitors annually. If there is a preference though, we would choose air-hotel packages as opposed to cruise options. The Go Lean book details that cruise passengers average $237/day in spending while on a cruise ship. Unfortunately, the majority (80%) of that money is spent with the foreign-based cruise line, not in the destination; the port cities get trinkets ($20 – $30 per day) in port-side souvenirs and tours.

Resort hotels in the Caribbean generate a lot of economic activities down the line: airports, taxis, restaurants, casinos, shopping, etc. The strategy employed by cruise lines is to embed most of all these activities on the ship. This difference is not ignored in the Go Lean consideration of Caribbean commerce (Page 61).

This book Go Lean… Caribbean, serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The CU/Go Lean roadmap has 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines and marshal against economic crimes.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

Early in the book, the responsibility of monitoring and managing economic trends were identified as a crucial role of the CU; these statements were pronounced in the Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 13) as follows:

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

xxv.  Whereas the legacy of international democracies had been imperiled due to a global financial crisis, the structure of the Federation must allow for financial stability and assurance of the Federation’s institutions. To mandate the economic vibrancy of the region, monetary and fiscal controls and policies must be incorporated as proactive and reactive measures. These measures must address threats against the financial integrity of the Federation and of the member-states.

The Caribbean tourism resort properties depend on their resort amenities. This commentary previously related details of the changing macro-economic factors (like demographics) that are currently affecting the region’s resorts, including amenities like golf and casinos: Casinos Changing/Failing Business Model The Future of Golf; Vital for   Tourism Open/Review the Time Capsule: The Great Recession of 2008 10 Things We Want from the US and 10 Things We Don’t Want from the US – # 2: Tourists The Erosion of the Middle Class Tourism’s changing profile

Accordingly the tourist industry needs to be cognizant of the changing landscape in world economics; they need to minimize the downward pressure on their product. There needs to be a promoter for Caribbean commerce and a Sentinel for Caribbean image.

Who is up for this challenge? Not the FTC; despite having two Caribbean territories within its scope (Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands), this agency has “fallen asleep at the switch” in its duty to regulate the markets and mandate a level-playing-field. For the Caribbean (region as a whole) we must perform this function on our own.

This roadmap posits that the Caribbean must not allow the US to lead for our own nation-building. We must step up and step forward for ourselves. We have the means and the methods to better ensure a quality experience to our hotel/resort visitors. The roadmap calls for oversight by an Interstate Commerce Administration within the Commerce Department of the CU. But there is no need for Caribbean hoteliers to fear! This agency will be more of a partner/promoter than that of a regulator. The plan is simple: require non-optional resort fee pricing to be fully disclosed as part of the base hotel rate. Then ensure a level-playing-field for all market participants.

This strategy, tactic and implementation features the heavy-lifting of Caribbean economic reform/reboot. Caribbean tourism is in need of this reform/reboot to attract and return visitors to our shores to enjoy our hospitality. But the interest of our visitors must also be protected, they are also stakeholders in the Caribbean reboot effort. The Go Lean… Caribbean book details the community ethos to adopt to proactively mitigate the dire effects of the changed demographic landscape, plus the executions of these additional strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies:

Community Ethos – Economic Principle – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principle – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices Page 21
Community Ethos – Job Multiplier Page 22
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Best Address on the Planet Page 45
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Trade and Globalization Page 70
Separation of Powers – Sports and Culture Administration Page 81
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Ways to Impact Social Media Page 111
Implementation – Ways to Benefit from Globalization Page 119
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Planning – Lessons Learned from 2008 Page 136
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Anecdote – Butch   Stewart – Sandals Resorts Growth in   Tourism – Responding to  Guests Needs Page 189
Advocacy – Ways to Enhance Tourism Page 190
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Cruise Tourism Page 193
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Technology Page 197
Advocacy – Ways to Foster e-Commerce Page 198
Advocacy – Ways to Help the Middle Class Page 223
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the One Percent Page 224

The book Go Lean…Caribbean purports that the Caribbean is the greatest address in the world and sets on a roadmap to extend the invitation of Caribbean hospitality to not just Americans, but also the rest of the world. In order to appeal to the global market, this roadmap, posits that regional tourism stakeholders must traverse the changing landscape, in which some of the agents-of-change are technology and globalization.

The plan also calls for establishing Trade Mission Offices in divergent cities like Spain and Tokyo for outreach to Mid & Far Eastern markets.

The issues in the foregoing news stories emerged mostly because of the different experiences in booking hotel rooms online and then engaging the resort properties at check-in/check-out.  The roadmap advocates the art and science of using Internet & Communications Technologies and Social Media for bookings, and also for the advertising and selling of Caribbean culture and amenities. The plan is also to monitor and track comments/complaints from online postings – many have complained about being “nickeled-and-dimed” in hotels due to various resort/amenity fees.

With this roadmap, the people (and governing institutions) of the Caribbean step up and declare that we have learned from the lessons of the past; we have streamlined our products/services and we are ready to be the best address for the world to visit, even for those among the middle classes. The Caribbean therefore prepares for a better future, one in which the world recognizes that we are the best place to live, work and play.

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!



Title: News Article: Resort Fees Explained: How to Spot (and Avoid) Them on Your Next Trip

Ah, those pesky resort fees. We’ve all encountered them in our travels, lurking on our hotel bills.

They’ve been around since the 1990s when they were generally utilized to pay for the upkeep of high-end facilities at upscale resorts; the beach clubs and tennis courts, for example. However, in the last five years or so, more and more hotels have been tacking on these annoying — and often spendy — extra charges for considerably lower-end facilities. For example, almost every explanation of these fees we’ve encountered includes such uninspiring “perks” as a newspaper and local phone calls.

According to research by Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the PrestonRobertTischCenter for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management at New YorkUniversity, the U.S. hotel industry collected approximately $1.55 billion in fees and surcharges in 2009. Not all of which were resort fees, but you can see how fees and extras add up. Here’s a breakdown of these fees, how they work, when they’re charged, and how you can avoid them.

What is a Resort Fee?

A resort fee is a (usually unadvertised) mandatory fee tacked onto a nightly room rate. Fees can be as low as $3.50 per night at the Clarion Inn & Suites at International Drive, Orlando (they call this one a “safe fee”), to as much as $60 per night for the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico.

A resort fee is almost always a fixed rate that is paid per room, per night, however some of the perks that come with the fee are only good for one person; like the one mai tai per day, per room offered by the Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa ($25 a day), or at Bally’s Las Vegas, where rooms sleep up to four people, but the $18 resort fee only allows two people access to the fitness center.

The things included in your fees run the gamut from the sublime ($25 resort fee applied towards some services at The Spa at the Trump Hotel, Las Vegas) to the ridiculous. Notary service at the Mirage Las Vegas ($25), anyone? But generally, the fee includes amenities such as WiFi, shuttle service, a newspaper, and the in-room phone.

Who Charges a Resort Fee?

You’ll find resort fees are most prevalent in a few specific destinations: Las Vegas, the Caribbean, Florida, and Hawaii. In Las Vegas, you’ll be hard pressed to find a hotel that does not charge a resort fee. The few that haven’t charged a fee in the past – such as Ceasar’s, which even launched a Facebook page at one point that asked visitors to “join the fight against Las Vegas resort fees” — are steadily jumping onto the resort fee bandwagon. From the point of view of the hotel, this is understandable. Why miss out on the extra cash that everyone else is already getting?

A few ski resorts also add resort fees, One   Ski Hill Place in Breckenridge, Colorado, for example, charges $30 a night, and the Viceroy Snowmass, also in Colorado, charges $16 a night.

How Do You Know if Your Hotel Charges a Resort Fee?

Read the fine print before you book. Resort fees tend to be hidden from advertised rates – the rationale presumably being that the site can lure guests in with low room rates before hitting them with an extra fee later. Say you’re searching for a hotel in Las Vegas on a third-party web site. You might see a good deal pop up like this one we found: The Palms Casino Resort for $67 on October 22. However, it’s not until you get to the booking page that you see the resort fee listed ($20 per night); bundled together with the taxes.

Several hotels hide the resort fee from their advertised room rates until you are ready to book; and even then they often do not include the fee in the reservation total, instead running a strip of (literally) fine print saying something like “rate and total room rates do not include the daily resort fee of $22 or applicable taxes.” (That’s taken from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas). You usually end up handing over the money at check-in or check-out.

While there’s often an element of surprise with resort fees, hotels have at least become more upfront about them since the FTC sent a letter to 22 hotel operators last year warning that their online rates may have been deceptive and in violation of FTC regulations. If you are still unsure, don’t hesitate to call the hotel before booking to ask exactly how much you will be paying, and for what.

Do You Have to Pay It?

The short answer is yes. There are a few resources available if you’re looking for more detail about resort fees. VegasChatter, for example, keeps an up-to-date list of Las Vegas hotels not charging resort fees (it contains only 11 hotels). There’s also no harm in trying to get the fees waived, especially if you advise management that you have no intention of using the facilities, or if you don’t want a newspaper or WiFi. This is more likely to be successful if you have status with the hotel’s loyalty program, which brings us to our final point…

Do You Earn Points on Resort Fees?

No. The extra money you are paying per night does not go toward your loyalty program status – even more reason to read the fine print, and keep yourself informed.

Karen Dion.

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