Hotels to get greedier in 2016 according to Travel & Leisure magazine
According to the January 2016 edition of Travel & Leisure magazine (see above), hotels will be coming after more of your money should you choose to stay with them rather than an alternative form of accommodation.
For over 20 years now we’ve been preaching that the hotel experience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We’ve talked long and hard about all the extra fees the hotels add on from resort fees through to car parking charges and much more. It seems that these hidden fees are quite an earner for the hotels as they made a record $2.47 Billion in 2015 from these added charges. Yes, $2.47 Billion!
It puzzles us why the hotel industry just can’t be straight forward and disclose everything up front but one of the reasons simply has to be their desire to compete with each other on the various listing sites based on price alone. The urge to be the cheapest… at least on the web. Frankly, we call this deception of the public.
Hotels are in business to make money and they think nothing of trying to pull the wool over the customers eyes. To think, they have the cheek to call them guests!
When you really study what the hotels get up to it’s really revealing. You need to have your wits about you these days if you are considering a stay at a hotel so we thought we’d put together a comprehensive list of hidden charges you may want to look for.
Here’s our A to Z of hidden charges you may be dinged for if you don’t watch out.
Airport shuttle: Never assume that the shuttle from the airport to your hotel is free, be sure to ask as some hotels are starting to charge a fee for what was once a complimentary service.
Bellhop/housekeeper gratuities: Sometimes called a service charge or service fee, this expense may be charged per day or per stay, and it covers gratuities for bellhops and housekeeping staff. Look out for this charge particularly if you’re traveling with a convention or large group.
Bottled water and snacks: Think twice before touching that “complimentary” bottle of water that the hotel has left on your desk. It could cost you upwards of $5. Ditto for fruit plates, cookies or other munchies. If in doubt, call down to the front desk before indulging.
Cancellation: Never assume that you can cancel your reservation a day or two before you arrive, read your hotel’s cancellation policy carefully. You may be penalized the price of a night’s stay or more if you cancel outside of the hotel policy.
Checking in and out: Some hotels will charge you a fee for checking in early or checking out late so make sure you are clear if there is an additional charge for doing so.
Energy surcharge: Hotels are now so desperate to generate revenue that their latest trick is to try to pass on rising energy costs to guests. Many hotels now add on an energy surcharge to guest bills.
Grounds Keeping fee: If the resort has acres of lush lawns, gardens or golf courses, watch out, you could be footing the bill in the form of a grounds keeping surcharge.
In-room safe: Some hotels are charging guests for the privilege of keeping their belongings safe. Even if you never use the safe you might be charged as the fee supposedly covers both the cost of the safe and insurance for its contents. That is until you read the disclaimer about guest belongings!
Internet: Almost all hotels, especially those serving business travelers, offer high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi services. Costs vary widely; while many hotels offer complimentary Internet access, others charge per minute or per day, so be sure to ask before logging on. Also, note that some hotels charge for Wi-Fi by device, not by room, so if you’re using your iPad and your spouse is surfing the Net on a laptop, you may have to pay double the fee.
Luggage holding: If you need your hotel to hold your bags for a few hours after you have checked out, you may find you have to pay for the privilege.
Minibars: Minibars are a huge source of revenue for hotels and there are a number of different fees associated with minibars even if you never eat or drink any of the goodies inside. Picking up an item and putting it back can trigger the minibar’s sensors, immediately adding the price of the item to your bill. On sensitive machines, even jostling minibar items as you add your own food to the fridge can incur a charge. Note, if you try to avoid the hassle entirely by calling ahead and asking the minibar to be emptied before your arrival, beware, you might be charged a “restocking” fee.
Packages: Some hotels charge $1 to $25 to mail packages for their guests, with similar fees for receiving packages. These fees will vary based on the size or number of packages.
Parking: Mandatory valet parking can easily add $25 a day or more onto the cost of your downtown hotel — and don’t forget the tip. Even self parking can see your bill rocket as hotels have been known to charge anywhere from $10+ per day to park overnight.
Resort fee: This ubiquitous surcharge runs anywhere from $10 to $90 per day and can cover a wide variety of services and amenities, such as a business center, a pool, a gym, daily newspaper delivery, housekeeping or “free” local calls. Most resorts automatically add the fee to your bill even if they don’t state it in their advertising. Be wary because even if you have no desire to use any of these services, you’ll still get stuck with the fee.
Taxes and other local charges: Taxes are no huge surprise to most travelers, but hotels have been known to add concessionary fees to pay for local building projects or local tourism marketing efforts. Hotels often pass on these mandatory charges straight from the local government to you.
Telephone: Before picking up the receiver on the in room phone, study your hotel’s list of telephone charges carefully. They should be posted near to the phone and you’ll often see that some hotels charge for local and toll-free calls, while others do not. You may occasionally be charged simply for dialing, even if your call is never connected.
Towels: Pool towels are increasing becoming a revenue stream for hotels as they add a buck or two to your bill.
Do Your Research: It can be very difficult to figure out which fees will be charged at a particular hotel or resort before you book so be prepared to ask before you make a reservation.
Ask Ahead of Time: In this day and age you can usually find some information online, but often your best bet is to pick up the phone and ask before you stay. Call the hotel and simply ask them which fees will apply to your stay and whether any of them can be waived ahead of time. Always keep in mind that fees can vary within the same chain of hotels, so it is always best to dial the individual property directly instead of calling the 800 reservations number. Make sure to write down the names of any staff members you speak with and which fees they agree to waive. Better still, get them to put things in writing by sending you an email confirmation or quote.
Don’t Tip Twice: It now seems standard practice for hotels to leave an envelope in your hotel room expecting you to tip your housekeeper. Be wary as you may be tipping twice as some hotels already charge a housekeeping gratuity fee.
Stock Up: Visit a local grocery store or gas station to stock up with your own snacks and bottled water. This will quell the urge to raid the minibar and help keep your expenses low!
When in Doubt, Ask: During your stay, don’t take anything for granted. Before using the gym or taking an extra towel at the pool, ask if a fee applies.
Use Your Cell Phone: Hotel telephone charges are designed to be confusing and pricey, so avoid the hassle entirely by using your own cell phone.
Allow Plenty of Time at Check-Out: Many guests are in such a hurry to leave their hotel that they sign and pay their bill without looking it over. The better hotels will deliver your statement to your room overnight so do take the time to check for errors or unexpected charges. It is much better to dispute erroneous charges while still at the property than once you get home.
Know Your Rights: Federal law requires that all hotel fees be clearly disclosed. This usually happens in the fine print so read the terms and conditions of your reservations agreement carefully. If you discover fees at check-out that weren’t disclosed to you in writing, point them out to the hotel staff and ask them to be removed.
Stay in a Florida Leisure Vacation Home: Of course, we’re biased. We don’t mind admitting it. We believe that you’d have a far more enjoyable vacation or business trip staying in a 1500+ square foot home with private pool instead of a 400 square foot box of a hotel room. We believe you’d enjoy the luxury of your own private heated swimming pool right outside your living room door rather than trekking up and down floors and long corridors…all for the joy of sharing the cold hotel pool with someone else.
Then there’s the other advantages of a vacation home… such as parking right outside your front door. Hotels usually charge a small fortune for parking and you sometimes feel like you need a mortgage to do valet in some places, but at a Florida Leisure Vacation Home, you can park completely for free just a few steps from your front door. That makes it so much easier to load or unload when you arrive or depart and it also makes it much simpler when you want a fast getaway to visit a local attraction or restaurant.
Want to know one of the best ways to save a small fortune when traveling? Instead of eating out for every meal every time the hunger pains come on, simply shop for your normal groceries at one of our local stores and then stock them in your fully equipped and full sized kitchen. When the hunger urge tickles you, all you have to do is visit the refrigerator or pop a pizza in the microwave. If you love visiting the Orlando theme parks, simply having breakfast at home every morning can not only save you loads of time but a heap of money into the bargain.
Then there are other smaller benefits to a vacation home. Everyone has a separate bedroom included in the rate. No, you don’t have to pay for multiple rooms like you do in a hotel. Yes, you can all get together when you choose and yes, you can have your own private space when you need it. Try doing that in a hotel room when someone goes to sleep before the others or wakes up before everyone else does. Then, there’s the biggie… multiple bathrooms. Yep, Florida Leisure’s vacation homes have at least two bathrooms. No more waiting for your turn to get ready.
We could rage on and on though but we think it’s pretty clear that a vacation home rental from Florida Leisure is far more advantageous than staying in a hotel. We also promise not to nickel and dime you at every turn! No hidden charges … ever! Perhaps the hotels could learn a thing or two from one of the fastest growing trends in the United States?