Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hotel Booking Tip: Better ask about Hidden Fees!

With the economy off and gas prices up, people are shopping around for the best hotel deals. My advice is to be very careful. Don't just call and ask for the room rates. Ask if there are additional charges other than tax. 

In many cases the true daily cost will be the room rate plus a "resort fee" or other hidden charges AND they won't tell you if you don't ask. I do not like this trend. It's not a "bait and switch" situation but it's not totally honest either. It makes the consumer think they are getting a better deal and/or a much lower rate than the hotel down the street. Upon arrival, it may be too late to go somewhere else. 

The most common hidden daily charge is a Resort Fee. You have to look for the fine print on a confirmation letter, web site, or hotel rules to find out what it is and 99% of the time it is not negotiable and must be paid along with the room rate. These fees range from $10 to as high as $60 per day ($60 is at a hotel less than a mile from Pines and Palms). So if you were quoted a room for $279 per night for example, when you add the resort fee (say $30), you get a real nightly rate of $309 per night and a total extra cost for a week of $210.

Another hidden fee could be for parking, common in big cities but not something you would expect in the Keys. Bringing a boat? Not only will you be charged a daily dockage fee but sometimes a fee to launch your boat and park your trailer. Want your room cleaned daily? Look out for daily housekeeping fees. What's next? Some hotels are now experimenting with added energy fees.

This thing bothers me because at our place we do it the old fashioned way. Everything is covered in the daily rate: coffee, daily newspaper, housekeeping, energy, dockage, towel service, parking, etc. You are not forced to pay for extras like kayaks, bicycles, snorkeling equipment, fishing gear, etc., stuff that you may not use. 

You gotta compare apples to apples. One place might seem to have lower rates but don't forget to add in the resort fee and other charges to find the best deal.

Now you know... the rest of the story.


Anonymous said...

Jim, I'm curious since you mentioned bikes...does your motel offer bikes to ride for free? Are there bike trails near your area? I'm contemplating a 2-3 night stay with you during Labor Day week. Thanks!

Jim said...

Hello there: Yes we do offer bikes for free especially during the slower tourism seasons. Sometimes in the high season we do charge a nominal fee which helps us manage the requests and it keeps people from hogging the few bikes we have.

There are bike trails everywhere in the Keys. You can pick up the trail right in front of the resort and head to town for shopping, to eat, or just cruise.

mamaw said...

hey, Jim, just found your insider pages..........wow, takes me back. My husband and myself have stayed at your resort twice, and fell in love with it. My husband passed 2 yrs. ago, and I will really miss coming to the resort this winter. I still keep in touch with a couple from Maine that we got to know there, in the next cabin to us.......loved it. I thought I might try and drive down by myself, but don't know if I could do that or not......but would just love to come back one more time!! Your resort was our "paradise" Thanks, Lou Bonner

Jim said...

Hi Lueta:
So nice to hear from you. We too have been very lucky to meet many nice people who have become our friends through the years. We would love to have you come back and stay a while this winter. If there is anything I can do to help make the trip possible, please contact me.
Take care, Jim

Jim said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,
Gary and I are in the Orchid House thru 3/9 after 4 Febs. @ the Islander...this is awesome, charming, and delightful. We've found a winner in your much loved and well cared for property. We will log on to your Islamorada Insider frequently to catch up on the local happenings and travel tips. We are also Michiganders...Gary makes the goalie masks for ice hockey goal tenders right from his shop in Port Huron, MI. The Warwicks

Carol Ann said...

Well hello there! Just wanted to let you that I found you thru Twitter. I'm in the Keys a lot (train with my German Shepherd in Key West most weekends). Do you accommodate dogs? Specifically a 70# highly trained Shep? If not, no worries. Your Islamorada Insider Blog is fabulous. I will continue to follow it and pass it on to others. So glad to have come across it! ~ Carol

Jim said...

Hi Carol, thanks for checking out the blog and finding us on Twitter. Unfortunately, we don't allow animals on the property. We've tried and it doesn't work. See the blog entry on pet friendly resorts for more info.