A Backlash Brews Against Phantom Hotel Fees

A 2019 bill introduced in the House of Representatives with Republican and Democratic sponsors would prohibit the practice that has spread from resorts to many downtown properties. In addition, Nebraska sued Hilton and the District of Columbia sued Marriott, part of an effort by some attorneys general to attack a now-widespread practice some call unfair.

“This is a straightforward price deception case,” the District of Columbia suit says.

Resort fees, now more than 10 years old, started with hotels basically mimicking airline baggage fees. But they go a giant step further by making the add-on fee mandatory—and making it hard to find.

On their websites and third-party booking sites, hotels post a room rate for customers to consider, then add an extra charge labeled in a variety of obtuse ways. That could mean a resort fee, destination fee, urban destination fee, amenity fee or facility fee. One boutique hotel in New York calls its fee a NYC Mandatory Facility Hotel Fee, making it look like one more government tax on hotel guests. It isn’t.

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