Marriott actually makes hotels pay them for the right to charge you a resort fee. Having just audited the franchise agreement for their AC Hotels and Westin brands, I found it fascinating that they charge a one-time $1500 fee, plus $550 per year, to hotels that bill customers resort or destination fees.
Often I get the sense that hotels which are not compliant with the Bonvoy program simply aren’t being audited. With well north of 7000 hotels, the chain just lacks the manpower (or desire to spend the costs) to ensure that hotels follow the rules. However the point of this fee, it seems, is to ensure that hotels are following the rules.
So when a hotel ‘cheats’ on their resort fees, Marriott can’t reasonably claim ignorance. A hotel should even have a plan to provide a benefit in lieu of internet to elite members, when internet is included in the resort fee’s so-called benefits. Marriott is taking a fee meant to ensure they aren’t ignorant of the hotel’s resort fee practices! (And, for that matter, to ensure that there’s not any cheating.)
AC Hotel owners must offer services “with a retail value that is at least four times greater than the destination or resort fee charged.”
Even more interesting is that the franchise agreement allows Marriott to exempt elite members of the Bonvoy program from paying resort and destination fees (something Hyatt does for its top tier Globalist members, and Hilton and Hyatt do on redemption stays for all members). Yet Marriott still doesn’t do this.