Yes, it is time for another installment of “Things that Tick Me Off,” the category where I allow myself that chance to vent about something that is so annoying that I must vent to retain my sanity. Over the years, I have complained about the mounting fees on planes and hotels (here and here). A particular pet peeve is the fact that high-end hotels routinely charge for wi-fi while lower priced hotels do not. When I stayed overnight in Vegas, I encountered the latest scam by hotels – a bait and switch made possible by sites like Expedia. I stayed at the New York, New York hotel and it was my first encounter with the “resort charge” for “free wi-fi.” This followed an equally misleading notation about the Renaissance Hotel which not only did not provide free wi-fi in the room but my stay included the “disappearance” of my fitbit watch for good measure. When I travel, I often leave notes for myself in the future and anyone who may be interested. So here it is.
I had to book my hotel on the fly last week and specifically searched for “free wi-fi” among the better hotels. Expedia listed the hotel as “free wi-fi.” In fairness to Expedia, there was a small notation about a “resort fee.” After booking the non-refundable room and showing up at New York, New York, I was told that the resort fee is the cost of the free wi-fi. At $25 dollars, that made it one of the more expensive such charges. To make matters worse, it was incredibly and maddeningly slow despite the assurance of high-speed wi-fi. I fail to understand why Expedia allows hotels to list themselves as free wi-fi when they admit to charging for the service as a “resort fee.” It is merely a change in nomenclature and suddenly New York, New York can compete with honest hotels that actually supply wi-fi. It is really not the money. I largely travel on expense accounts or covered travel paid by others. However, it irks me to see these various charges. If the hotel wants to simply add the added cost to each room, so be it. Consumers can then easily compare hotels. After all, everyone is paying the resort fee since we were not given the choice. Instead, the room is made to look cheaper than it is while the “free” service is obviously not free.
Expedia also allowed Renaissance to claim free wi-fi when it is only offered free wifi in the lobby of the hotel. It also somehow gave the hotel four stars which is rather hard to believe. A significant space in the bathroom shower was occupied by a large institutional looking disability/elderly seat attached to the wall and the bathroom had a foul odor like mold and sewage. The location was on a dark corner off the strip that was a bit creepy. We left at a run the next morning. However, shortly after leaving, I realized that I left my fitbit watch on the bedside table. I immediately called the hotel and was put through to security. Within minutes, the security manage informed me that the watch was gone. Simply gone. Poof. I have often marveled at how hotels disclaim any items that disappear in your room even when the only people in your room are the hotel’s own employees. Obviously, I was absent-minded to leave the fitbit watch in the room but one could hope that such obviously forgotten items would not be immediately claimed as swag. Then again I suppose what is briefly forgotten in Vegas stays in Vegas. I am out a fitbit which is not a huge deal but the stay at Renaissance is something I would not wish on anyone.
In the end, I felt a bit miffed at Expedia on its star rankings and facilitation of these misrepresentations on such things as wi-fi. I did stay at a hotel that I would recommend however for what it is worth. For my speech and the hiking at Zion, I stayed at the St. George Courtyard. I have always found Courtyards to be reasonably priced, clean, and honest. Free wi-fi was actually free. The staff was hugely helpful and friendly. No frills to be sure but we left with an entirely positive experience, including staff that seemed to have the sense of humor missing with folks at New York, New York.
Of course the greatest recommendation from the trip is a long visit to Zion National Park which is better than advertised and has no hidden fees. It is truly the grandest level of accommodation that you could possibly hope for in a vacation.
So that is my rave. Take it for what it is worth . . . there is no blog fee for this free advice.