It used to be just resort fees that hotels added onto unsuspecting guests’ bills. Then city hotels decided they were missing out on the action and began charging ‘destination fees’ even though they couldn’t promise beach chairs, non-motorized water sports, yoga classes by the pool or whatever other litany of supposed benefits they could say they were charging that somehow weren’t included in the room rate.
Recently, though, hotels have really ramped up their creativity with electricity fees, fees to use the bathroom mirror, a window replacement fee and even a 7.5% surcharge to cover property taxes.
Against this backdrop with all the fees that hotels you’d think there’s nothing left to unbundle. However Hyatt’s Destination Residences Mauna Lani Point resort in Waimea has come up with a creative new fee I haven’t seen before.
In a move sure to impress Monsieur Thénardier himself, the hotel actually charges guests for damage they haven’t even done to the room yet through a mandatory $79 damage waiver fee on each booking.
A non-refundable Damage Waiver fee of $79, plus tax if applicable, will be applied to the total cost of your reservation. This will cover the costs of any accidental damage of the vacation rental and it’s contents up to $1,500.
This. Is. Insane. Everyone gets charged $79 in case they break stuff. But the fee only covers damage that is self-reported, not that the property finds on their own.
If this were good value, it would be optional and something guests could choose to pay for. If this were necessary for the property, they could charge a per-night fee and include it in the room rate. Instead it’s mandatory precisely because customers wouldn’t choose to pay it, and an add-on to make the room rate look cheaper than it is.
Of course, hotels play stupid games, they’ll win stupid prizes. The property is basically asking guests to play ‘smash the TV’ before leaving since they’re paying a fee to cover that anyway. At a minimum it might lead guests to take less care, since they’re already being charged for damage.
I reached out to Hyatt last week to find out whether this fee should be waived for Globalists, since they aren’t supposed to be charged resort or destination fees on revenue stays and that’s really what this is – a “value add benefit in exchange for a fixed add-on fee.” And if it’s waived for Globalists on revenue stays, it should be waived for all guests on award stays. We’ll see what they say.
(HT: The Gate)