What we did this weekend: golfing with pirates in Orlando and exploring Maitland’s Mayan Courtyard

Golf and pirates! Who can imagine a better combination? Not Aren, Iden or Erysse, who tried their hand at minigolf.

Aren, Iden and Erysse visited the Mayan Courtyard at the Maitland Art Center. Not shown is Iden falling into the fountain. We decided to keep that out of this video. After all, he has an image to uphold.

You can see more pictures here and view archived videos at our travel video site.

10 things I love about Hyatt Place


I stayed at the Hyatt Place in Lake Mary, Fla., this weekend, one of the “new build” Hyatt Place properties that opened in January. Sharp looking hotel, isn’t it?

That’s the first thing I liked about it.


2. Checking in is super easy. No need to wait in a line — just talk to the kiosk.


3. Who is your interior decorator?


4. Nice pool.


5. Now that’s a shower.


6. Healthy breakfast. Go for the melons.


7. Everything is color coordinated, right down to the doors.


8. They have a wine bar. How cool is that?


9. Hungry? The computer will take your order.


10. Free PC lets you print out your itinerary … or find a good restaurant.

Can they charge a “resort fee” for a hotel I bid on?

Ray Richardson thought he found a deal when his Priceline bid on an Orlando hotel landed him a reservation at the Radisson. But then he got his bill.

It contained a surprise $6.95-a-day “resort fee” to cover the cost of the Radisson’s pool, exercise equipment and other amenities.

Can it do that?

A cursory look at Priceline’s terms suggests the answer is “no.” The online travel agency promises that the “total charges” for a room would “always be disclosed” before a reservation is made.

This is particularly important for its “name your own price” service, because customers don’t pick the exact hotel — only the class of hotel. If they knew there were a resort fee, then these price-sensitive customers could avoid the property.

But a closer look at Priceline’s terms reveals that the Radisson fee is allowed.

Depending on the city and property you stay in, you may also be charged resort fees or other incidental fees, such as parking charges. These charges, if applicable, will be payable by you to the hotel directly at checkout.

I’ve encountered this problem with Priceline before, and there’s no easy fix. Back in 2006, I worked on a case involving an “upgrade” on a bid hotel that ended up charging a resort fee. The customer disputed the charge on his credit card and won.

Richardson could have also protested the fee when he checked out. At a time like this, when hotels are bending backward to make guests happy, the resort might have reduced the fee.

He says he used none of the hotel’s facilities. That’s an argument that also might have worked.

“This would seem to me to be a deceptive practice to make Priceline users think they are paying less,” he told me.

I don’t know which is worse: Priceline, for failing to disclose a resort fee on a hotel someone bid on, or the Radisson, for charging a fee that should be part of the room rate.

Call it a draw?