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Sunday, December 5, 2010

The fee might be collected upfront but who could know?

Some folks are reporting not being charged a resort fee at the counter and thinking they got away without paying it because they did not notice how high the tax and fee charge was at the broker.
Others, like me, actually skipped using hotel.com last time I planned a trip because I thought they had a hidden booking fee.
While it is nice to have the cost "upfront," who would know that charge was taxes and the resort fee? 
I just took a look on hotels.com to book the Gold Spike. It is confusing. Only the mathematics reveals that the resort fee is collected by the broker at the time of booking. 
Directly under the mathematics is:

The following mandatory hotel-imposed fees are charged and collected by the hotel either at check-in or check-out.
Resort fee: US$ 7.95 per room, per day
Hotel resort fee inclusions:
Use of pool
Use of fitness center or health club
Internet access
Self parking
The above list may not be comprehensive. Mandatory hotel-imposed fees may not include tax and are subject to change.
The following fees and deposits are charged by the property at time of service, check-in, or check-out.
Deposit: US$ 100 per stay

Then if we hit book, we again get it:
The following mandatory hotel-imposed fees are charged and collected by the hotel either at check-in or check-out.
Resort fee: US$ 7.95 per room, per day

Hotel resort fee inclusions:
Internet access in guestroom
Use of pool

UPDATE:  I am talking with Hotels.com and they get the contradiction.  They will look into the details of it.  According to them there is no way they can collect a resort fee upfront or pass it on to the Gold Spike. Keep reading and I'll post as I know something more definitive.
Use of fitness center or health club
Self parking

Expedia is even more ridiculous. If that is the resort fee buried in the "tax recovery" fee area, then they are cutting their throat as well. For a $39 room that tax and fee charge comes up at $12 a night. And yet the popup resort fee box says that the resort fee will be collected by the hotel at check-in or check-out.

It is commendable that hotels.com wants the information clearly included on the booking form, but why cut their own throat by not including it in the price that is used to rank hotels from low to high? And why not at least put the word "resort" in the fee category? 

It is simply amazing to me how confusing this whole practice has made the simple act of booking a room.

Oh, Bellagio joins the resort fee hotels in January.

Added thoughts after a poster talked about booking directly

If the hotel is up front on the phone, then there is less confusion.  Another reason perhaps to book directly with the hotel.
Did you get the room charges comped on your play as well?
Can you share with us the level of your level of play that prompted this resort fee comp?
This reads like you did not have a host.  Is that right?
One of the things that the resort fee strategy can be for casinos is a new carrot on the stick to encourage play, so it is helpful for folks to get a feel for how much play generates resort fees waived.
I am very curious as to where it fits in the comped check out list of possible freebies.  Is it easier to waive than food?  Do you have to ask?  Who do you ask?
Clearly that is a direction that the conversation needs to take as more places charge the fee and more people will just be forced to pay it if they are going to stay where they want.

Quite a few people see the value of the resort fee in the internet amenity.  And it is a great value if it is comped.
If you need it in your room every day, that can be a wash.
However, as we do the math, it is good to decide how much internet we need.  I went with my wife to Harrah's last time and the internet charge for 24 hours was, as I remember, about $12.  This compares well with the Monte Carlo resort fee, but at Harrah's the internet fee  could be activated for any 24 hours on demand from the room. 
 My wife thought she wanted to have it, but as it turned out, she never activated it.  We were too busy and her new phone let her check email with wifi.  So some folks with computer may find the resort fee still adds to the actual bill by giving them a mandatory amenity that they don-t need every day instead of the choice to pay or not which does not need to be made at check in, but can be made right in the room when wifi is really determined to be needed.
Also, more and more fee places are popping up to comfortably use a computer over coffee.  Orleans has the Seattle coffee and Thebeat coffee house and record store downtown has a very relaxed area and free wifi just steps from the El Cortez, reducing in my mind the value of the Gold 
Spike free wifi because I can get breakfast and wifi for the price of the resort fee.
I tend to write up my emails and Vegas trip reports every night in my room, but I can do that on the word processor and just cut and paste when I get free access over breakfast every few days.
My buddy Bill who handicaps horses daily needs access every day in the room, so that Monte Carlo deal would be a value for him but not for me.
Of course, both Bill and I bipassed the entire process of balancing resort fee with amenity value and booked at the Super 8 where we had the free internet, 24 hour pool access, a laundromat where the wifi worked, a free shuttle to and from the airport, coffee maker, decent HBO and TCM on the tele and a short walk to the main desk with free flavored coffees in the lobby to take along, as well as free bingo next door at Ellis Island and great frugal food and microbrews available there as well.  The rooms are not much beyond clean and cozy, but all those amenities all come with no resort fee.  None can be comped, but then we don't get encouraged to play over are frugal limits and we are not restricted to play where we stay.

What is reported in this thread, Auggie, is a bit different than your experience because it is not a confusion when booking directly with the hotel, but when booking at some of the discounters.  Hotels.com is charging a fifty percent tax recovery and fee  at the time of booking and still indicating in the language of the agreement that we will pay the resort fee at the hotel as we check in or out.  Guests report that they are not being charged it at the Gold Spike after prepaying it to the discounter, but that is not what folks agree to when they book. It is not a question of paying the fee, but of who we pay it  to and when as well as whether  some folks may be double billed (which was a big concern to Hotels.com after I called them).

Thanks for posting your experience and any details you would be willing to share, would help us.  For folks needing an upscale Vegas experience (and not the small Super 8,) booking is not going to get simpler to understand any time soon, so the more information we have, the better prepared we are to get good value for our money.  At the frugal end of the mathematics it is difficult to get value out of the resort fee.  My last seventeen night stay in Vegas had me paying twenty two dollars on average a night.  If I were paying resort fees on top of that, it would double my cost and over seventeen nights that adds up.  A twenty here, a twenty there and pretty soon  after seventeen twenties we are talking about real money.
By the way, once I had hotel.com attention I pointed out to hotels.com that the ranking of low to high prices was an absolutely useless part of their website while resort fees were not computed in the ranked nightly costs.  I think folks who buy through discounters ought to complain more to them about the loss of this comparison shopping tool, so they do the work of programing into the reported nightly charge the real cost of the room. Some of the sites that make comparison quotes on products to buy online have begun to do that in order to accurately compare a supplier who charges no shipping with one who disingenuously deflates the price and inflates the shipping charges so that a comparison is accurate.  Discount brokers need to do the same as well as newspaper reporters who report trends in room charges in their articles and rank examples incorrectly by ignoring the mathematics.

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