There is nothing in the award travel world more frustrating than resort fees. Fuel surcharges might make a close second, but I can at least typically find ways around these (i.e. such as flying another carrier or using miles that don’t pass them on). Sure, there are ways around resort fees in some instances, but not all. Hyatt and Hilton (and sometimes Wyndham, if you push them) waive resort fees on award stays.

However, the resort fees that Marriott charges are unavoidable. Not even Titanium or Ambassador elites are immune to these charges, which can quickly take your stay well outside the realm of “free”. This latest version of the resort fee shows why these fees are a complete and utter nonsense.

The Variable Resort Fee?

Most hotels try to justify these fees by listing out a number of benefits that you receive that are covered in the fee. This is typically use of the exercise facilities, the swimming pool, local phone calls, and other items that most people tend to assume are included as part of your hotel stay. At many properties, these are. But let’s assume for a moment that these fees are actually justifiable, and that the hotel uses the charges to cover the cost of providing the services listed. You could assume that these would be roughly a fixed cost per guest, no? That’s at least what the hotel makes it sound like.

This makes one Michigan hotel’s implementation of the resort fee utterly abominable. Mark over at Miles to Memories wrote about one Michigan hotel that charges 10% of the nightly rate (even on award stays) as the resort fee. Based on Mark’s research, this means that peak dates could have resort fees of $50-70 per night!  I would be furious to pay over $100 in resort fees on what I thought was a free weekend stay. I had one recent Marriott stay where I had to swallow a resort fee of ~$30. This only made sense since I was using a free night that would expire in a few months.

This variable “resort fee” is not a resort fee at all! It obviously isn’t for covering hotel “benefits” and is simply a way for the hotel to add to their bottom line, avoiding both OTA fees on 10% of the nightly rate or pocketing some money from any guests who do decide to burn their points for an award stay at this hotel. A variable resort fee is a total farce, and Marriott is letting this hotel expose this absurdity for all to see. They’re not even trying anymore to make these fees appear reasonable.


I sure hope the ongoing lawsuits regarding hotel resort fees get some traction. It is time hotels stop playing these games. If you’re a frequent traveler, you should also vote with your feet and your wallet and frequent other properties and chains.

If you’re sticking with Marriott, I really cannot understand why. They do have a large footprint, but between complicated implementation of benefits, IT issues, and all sorts of other nonsense plaguing them for the past year, I cannot get behind their loyalty program.

Can you say #bonvoyed? Let me know your own resort fee experiences.