Things That Tick Me Off: Vegas “Resort Fees”

220px-NYNY2010220px-Wi-Fi_Logo.svgYes, 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.

200px-Expedia_logo.svgExpedia 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.

IMG_0597Of 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.

48 thoughts on “Things That Tick Me Off: Vegas “Resort Fees””

  1. Mr Keebler

    One way to avoid the concern you have with police downloading your information from your computer, such as you mention at the US border, is to use the Encrypted File System that many operating systems have available.

    I believe you cannot be compelled to provide your password to them.

  2. Keebler, I was just bustin’ balls. I’m w/ you 100% on our computers being private. We rightfully complain about our erosion of rights in the US. But, I can think of no other country w/ a better record. That said, we are drifting backward toward the abyss.

  3. I really don’t think I have anything to worry about. But in the same breath, why should I surrender one right when the government is taking away other?

  4. And don’t forget, anywhere within 100 miles of the US border, you can have your devices searched without your consent. I think this still the law.

  5. I suppose you have no problem with police officers downloading your data either? So much for my expectation of privacy if your people that you support get elected.

    1. Keebler – I personally am against the police downloading data, but I have nothing to worry about anyway.

    1. Nick… exactly my thoughts. I have to buy a burner phone and wipe my computer? I don’t think so. I always bring my computer, an external hard drive for media (photos & videos), and I always bring my personal phone. I have been fine with making calls and texting, but the cost for data is very high, so I like the wifi connections at the hotel. I can download maps and use my phone for navigation without using international roaming data.

      1. david – you can buy an extra card to add to your phone which will mitigate the costs

  6. Geeze Dave,

    I thought we were talking the US. Now, if you want to talk international. I suggest getting a burner phone to get there so someone has a number to reach you in case of an emergency. And pick up a phone while you’re in a foreign land. I also don’t recommend you take any personal computers that cannot be wiped clean before returning to the US. If you’re not aware HSA has the right to download any and everyone data upon entering the US borders. Just an FYI.

  7. david, We had spotty service in Italy. The only US quality service we had was @ a 5 star place in Rappalo.

  8. BK, When I travelled w/ dogs LaQuinta was my go to place. I sometimes brought my dog on surveillance. Great cover. Trade secret revealed.

  9. I’ve been staying at La Quinta. I once left a jacket behind. I stopped back several days later and picked it up. They don’t automatically send stuff to the person’s home, although they would have sent it to me if I had asked. Guess they’ve had a problem with Mrs. Smith not being on that trip and they don’t want Mr. Smith to get in trouble, they want him to come back.

    Problem: I was staying a week. I reserved the room at one rate and received that rate for the first night only. Subsequent nights were charged a much higher rate. Because of the way the bill is presented, the higher charges weren’t obvious.

  10. Paul:

    I was at a tech seminar on Monday and was told that lawyers overwhelming use smartphones and Apple “I”s in particular. Must be an occupational thing.

    1. mespo – for awhile everyone was on Blackberrys. However, they are becoming dinosaurs. Since the Samsung Galaxy rates better than the iPhone as a smartphone and Android appears to be the better OS, you would think they would go to at least Android, if not Samsung. However, my guess is that most attorney are not tech savvy and all their buying is done by the managing partner or the business manager for the firm. They get some kind of group buy.

  11. As one who has spent more than 4000 nights in hotel rooms throughout my life, I empathize with you Professor; Greatly so.

    I remember, decades ago, when purity in advertising meant that Macy’s, having pants it sold last year for $11.99, was taken to court and plead No Contest when it settled for re-pricing the same pants the following year at $29,99 and marking them 1/2 off.

    That case had much more convoluted dynamics of purity than this one here.

    I had soap the size for munchkins.

    Despise toilet paper as thin as sheets for sleeping amoebas.

    Wish to kill the gremlins who make remote controls work contrary.

    Want to hunt down and tie up the maids who sinister ways including calling my room at 7:30 a.m., to wake me up, so that they can clean it before their 8 o’clock break (regardless of the fact I landed at 4 a.m.).

    Wish to torture the nefarious computer viruses that juxtapose my reservation to have a date of 2041; as the clerk behind the desk says “its not in the computer – and I’m sorry, the entire town is sold out for the ventriloquist convention”.

    As for me, I utilize with regularity;
    and then call the specific hotel to try to make a better deal.

    Being a Gold Member (easy to do) gets them to take my call and bend over backwards to lobby upon my behalf. uses guest surveys to rate hotels (average of all is 3.9)

    Thank you for noting this;
    and I hope the Hotel Lobby is now pissed off greatly.

    It’s about time they felt what we go through.


  12. Hasn’t anybody checked out the Personal Hotspot on your phone? Make sure you have an ample data plan and it connects devices such as iPads or other wifi enabled equipment. That way you don’t have to pay the connection fees at hotels.

    1. Mr Keebler wrote: “Hasn’t anybody checked out the Personal Hotspot on your phone?”

      That’s tough when traveling internationally where data plans are expensive. Wifi in the comfort of your hotel room is a great way to get a break from using up your cellular data plan.

  13. mespo – one of my pet peeves is anything Apple, so I cannot rely on my iPhone. 🙂

  14. Another pet peeve,18% tax on your room in Chicago. Feeding The Dem Machine. It has a VORACIOUS appetite. When I travelled on business I was always conscious of price even though it was billed, now that it’s my dime, more so.

  15. On my last trip I stayed at one place that used the ‘resort price’ and I complained about it publicly so much they took it off the bill. I usually use TripAdvisor to find the places I want to stay because of the reviews. They give me a heads up if something hinky is happening, or the place has something special I should look out for.
    I am planning a big trip for the mid summer and free wifi is a must on all facilities. Like Chuck, I book with the facility directly.

  16. JT:

    I use the webpage/app to avoid these fees and find free hot spots. I’m rarely in my room while traveling so it works out for me. When I’m confined to the four walls, I just use my IPhone.

  17. I agree w/ everything Chuck said. Expedia is a great tool to scout the town. But, 80-90% of the time I then book directly getting a AAA rate, which almost always matches Expedia’s. I’ll book w/ Expedia if I know the hotel and they match the AAA rate. Marriott is the most consistent chain I have used. I was a road warrior for decades. I have stayed in thousands of hotels, motels, and TRAILERS! Oh yes, when you’re in a rural area, any port in the storm.

    Vegas started the resort fees ~10 years ago. They became the norm when the economy tanked. Vegas remains one of the hardest hit cities in this downturn. Resort fees, poor wireless, and no coffee in the room are my pet peeves. However, you do understand the reason. THEY DON’T WANT YOU IN THE ROOM. The money is made in the casino. They’ll gladly give you free coffee or adult beverages in the casino. It sounds like Jonathan is not a gambler. What Vegas has done in the last 20 years is make itself a superb dining and shopping destination. That helps, but the lifeblood of that city is gambling. I’ve made my donations and withdrawals. Anyone who says they always win is a lair. The Hotel @ Mandalay Bay is a nice oasis on the south end of the strip. The Belaggio is a go to place in the middle of the strip. Wynn’s properties on the north end are great. Wynn treats his employees like family. Having worked in the hotel business in college and early in my career, the key is finding hotels who treat their people well. He has longtime employees who can’t say enough about Wynn. There were massive layoffs when the economy tanked. Wynn has NEVER laid off an employee.

    Regarding the watch. That is totally unacceptable. When I worked @ the Drake in Chicago a maid would NEVER pocket anything. We returned property left for free, no shipping charge. I would write the GM of the hotel. You may not get compensated but that’s the info he wants.

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