How to Legally Get Out of Paying Resort Fees
Resort fees are the ultimate buzzkill after your hard earned vacation. Having to fork out an extra $30 to $50 per night, plus tax, is a surefire way to cancel out the holiday vibes.
So the big question is: Can you legally get out of paying resort fees?
While many hotels claim these universally hated fees are mandatory, that’s not necessarily true. You have the power to take a stand against paying these horrid surcharges.
Of course the easiest way to avoid paying resort fees is simply to avoid staying at resorts that levy them. But that would rule out some of the best resorts in the world and that’s no fun!
So, I’ve set out below some of the best strategies to avoid paying resort fees, which you can employ at check-in or checkout.
1. Complain about your room
- When I stayed at a luxury resort in the Bahamas on two separate days, there were issues with my room. So, naturally I immediately complained about this and then raised the issue again at the end of my stay. The Wi-Fi also hardly worked for an entire day, so I did internet speed tests and took screenshots, which made an appearance during my end of stay complaint!
- Note: The front desk will often remove your resort fee or discount it if you kick up a fuss about such issues. Be clear, but be polite too as rudeness won’t get you very far!
2. Out of Order?
- Similarly, if the resort fee includes things that were not available during your stay (for example, if the swimming pool or spa were closed), demand a refund of the resort fee because the resort failed to deliver on its promise. This is one of the easiest ways to avoid paying resort fees.
3. Don’t pay for things you didn’t need
- If the resort fee covers things that you did not need during your trip, such as the fax machine or gym, point out that you didn’t use these amenities and therefore should not be required to pay for them.
4. Elite status?
- If you’re a loyalty program member be sure to highlight that your brand loyalty wholly depends on being treated fairly. The front desk might then be inclined to have the fee wiped or give you a discount.
- Or, you could book the top resorts without ever needing to pay a resort fee, if you’ve earned points with brands like Hilton Honors, which has policies allowing them to waive resort fees on award stays.
5. Scam alert
- Check to see if the resort fee was made clear to you when you booked. If it wasn’t make sure you ask for the fee to be removed as this is a dishonest and deceptive business practice. In the US, Biden and the Federal Trade Commission have recently stated that they intend to crack down on this issue.
However, negotiating with the front desk may not always prove fruitful. Even if your arguments are convincing, sometimes a resort’s computer system will automatically add the resort fee onto your room rate, which makes it tricky for the front desk to issue a refund.
6. Ask for the Manager!
- If the above fails, bring out your inner Karen and ask to speak with a manager, who may be more understanding to keep you from filing further complaints or leaving a bad review on TripAdvisor. At the very least, they may be inclined to work out another refund or discount such as the fees coming off your other expenditures.
If these tactics fail, there are always more extreme measures! For example, Lauren Wolfe, is the lawyer behind Kill Resort Fees, which she founded after getting scammed by hotels in Florida. She recommends some “Don’t Pay” alternatives.
7. Credit card hacks
- Dispute resort fees charged to your card. Your credit card company may ask for documentation, in which case you could provide a screenshot of the resort failing to outline these fees on their website.
- Most credit card companies believe that their customers should not be subject to such travel scams, so you could get your resort fee back without too much hassle.
- Or, with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you can cash in your miles to cover any eligible travel purchase (including resort fees) at a rate of 1 cent per mile.
8. File a consumer complaint
- Another option is to file a consumer complaint with the attorney general of the state where the resort is located, or, if you booked online, your home state. According to the Kill Resort Fees website, tons of people have successfully had their resort fees refunded using this method. You can also find links to the forms for filing various consumer complaints here.
9. Small claims court
- If none of the above works, a more radical option is taking the resort in question to the small claims court. There may be a fee involved to file the claim, but if your stay was particularly long or expensive it may be well worth pursuing. This is especially true given that most resorts are not willing to appear before judges and will be more inclined to send you a cheque instead.
- If you do end up with a date in court, be sure to inform the judge that you booked the resort at a set advertised price but were subsequently charged an additional amount after you arrived. If you say this, most judges will rule in your favour!
At the end of the day, the best way to avoid paying resort fees is to prepare for them in advance. Utilising a rewards program that negates resort fees when you pay for your hotel stay can be beneficial, as can searching for resorts that don’t levy these fees at all. Alternatively, you might choose to acquire flexible travel credit cards or use the art of strategic complaints!
Whatever you do, avoid falling into the trap of paying unplanned fees imposed by resorts. Develop a strategy to dodge these fees or choose resorts that don’t impose them at all. Until we collectively object, hotels will persist on imposing these concealed charges, so the responsibility lies with us to be ready!
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Disclaimer: This article represents the opinion of The Glampacking Lawyer but should not be considered as professional advice or a guarantee of achieving specific outcomes. Each situation is unique and it is advisable to exercise personal judgment and conduct thorough research before attempting to negotiate resort fees. The Glampacking Lawyer provides a platform for legal information but is not a law firm. The author and publisher of this blog are not liable for any actions taken based on the information provided.