My new ‘trick’ for avoiding pesky resort and destination fees on last-minute stays

Jul 1, 2021

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Few things grind my gears as much as resort fees — and their relatively new in-town equivalent, the “destination fee.”

While they’re typically disclosed at checkout, these fees give hotels a revenue boost without bumping up the room rate — if you’re doing some comparison shopping, you’ll likely see the base rate, before taxes and fees.

Related: 5 pitfalls to avoid when booking hotels

As a result, travellers end up paying more than initially advertised for benefits they may not need, like long-distance calls or discounts on scooter rentals or, in the case of Wi-Fi and fitness centre access, perks other hotels include for free.

I’ll usually avoid staying at a hotel that charges a resort or destination fee, but in the case of my most recent booking, I really didn’t want to miss out on a $155 (about £112) last-minute rate at San Francisco’s Hyatt Centric Fisherman’s Wharf, so I figured I’d try a different approach.

(Screenshot courtesy of Hyatt)

After confirming availability via Hyatt’s app, I called up the hotel and politely explained that I was planning to make a same-day booking until I noticed the destination fee. I wouldn’t be using any of the amenities, so if they were willing to waive the fee, I’d book a two-night stay.

(Screenshot courtesy of Hyatt)

The agent agreed to make a “one-time exception.” She instructed me to book my stay and said she’d remove the fee from my account. Sure enough, at check-in, another agent confirmed that the roughly $35 (about £25) daily “destination fee” wouldn’t apply on this stay.

Still, she was friendly as can be and handed me a card outlining the destination fee perks, saying I was free to take advantage even though I wouldn’t be paying this time around. Score!

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

There was one challenge left to overcome: avoiding the hotel’s $62 (about £45) parking fee. I ended up driving around for a few minutes and found a lot for $25 per night just up the street — combined with the resort fee, I saved more than $70 (about £51) each night with just a bit of extra effort, enough to cover two fantastic dinners in San Francisco.

Bottom line

Is this “trick” guaranteed to help you avoid a resort or destination fee every time? No, I’m sure some properties won’t be willing to budge, but in this case, it was a win-win, giving the hotel some extra revenue it would have otherwise missed out on while saving me a bundle on my stay.

If you’re looking for a bit more of a sure thing, I’d book an award with Hilton or Hyatt (they don’t charge resort fees on award stays), or simply avoid hotels and resorts that work in sneaky fees. I feel much better about giving my business to properties that don’t try to trick consumers into paying extra fees.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy

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