Uh-oh! Hotel resort fees are on the rise

Don’t look now, but those reviled mandatory resort fees are on the rise — and in places you might not expect.

Orlando is the surprise No. 1 destination for the surcharges, which can cover everything from the hotel gym to a Wi-Fi connection, according to, a site that specializes in resort fee data.
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I want a full refund for this Mexico vacation

Marnie Bute didn’t enjoy the Mexican getaway she booked through Sun Country Vacations. Actually, that may be an understatement. She hated it and she wants every penny refunded.

Normally, when someone asks for a full refund, it triggers a predictable amount of eye-rolling here in the office. It couldn’t have been that bad, we say to ourselves.

Then we read her story.

It begins with a frantic note to Sun Country on the day of Bute’s arrival at the Royal Decameron Los Cabos resort in San Jose Del Cabo.
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Are hotel resort fees on their way out the door?

Even though the Doubletree San Juan isn’t really a resort, it still charged Cheryl Nygaard an 18% per night resort fee on her recent visit to Puerto Rico.

Worse, the $15-a-night “service” charge, which covered her Internet connection, beach chairs and towels, an in-room DVD player, and water and pool amenities, was added to her bill at the end of her stay.

“I didn’t know about the fees until I checked out,” she says. Nygaard, a corporate trainer from Dallas, who had booked the room through her travel agent, asked if the charge could be waived. She was in San Juan on business and didn’t use the pool, beach chairs or DVD player.

“I was told ‘no,'” she says.
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It’s “just” Kirkwood, thanks very much!


One of the first things Kevin “Coop” Cooper told me when we met up yesterday to ski at Kirkwood is that it’s “just” Kirkwood, thanks very much. No clever tagline.

It doesn’t need one. Kirkwood is … well, Kirkwood. It’s that Northern California resort that gets all the snow, that stands for adventure, and that attracts a certain clientele. A clientele that’s all about the mountain.
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Denied a room because they’re not gay enough?

Swetlana Wall/Shutterstock
Swetlana Wall/Shutterstock
Hotels turn away guests for all kinds of reasons, but here’s one you don’t hear every day: You’re not gay enough.

That’s what Laura Bradmeyer says a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., hotel did to her parents when they tried to check in recently. A receptionist told her father the hotel wouldn’t honor his reservation.

“He was told that no women were allowed,” she remembers. “My parents were not charged anything, but they were turned away.”

Eventually, her parents found a room in a different hotel. But Bradmeyer wonders: is the resort allowed to tell guests to leave because of their gender or sexual orientation?
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A Sandals Caribbean honeymoon that makes her wish she’d eloped

Nicholas and Katherine Welch didn’t have a good honeymoon. Actually, that may be something of an understatement. It was dreadful.

The Welches thought they’d done everything right. They visited St. Lucia, which is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the Caribbean. It’s also a gorgeous island. And they booked through a reputable all-inclusive resort, Sandals.

“We had a horrible experience that will remain with us for our whole lives,” Katherine Welch wrote to me. “Please help us.”
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Rental car damaged after being cut off by a resort van

When Chuck Berg tried to maneuver his way back to the Le Méridien in Phuket, Thailand, on a recent visit, he ran into a little problem: a rock on the side of the road, which dented the side of his rental car.

Berg thinks Le Méridien should cover the $175 deductible because the accident wouldn’t have happened without an unfortunate series of circumstances to which the resort’s employees contributed.

Today’s “can this trip be saved” case will force us to draw a line between a hotel’s liability and a guest’s personal responsibility. And I should warn you, this is not an easy one.
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Can this trip be saved? “My wife got salmonella poisoning at a Mexican resort”

Chris and Shelley Harper had hoped for a week of R&R with their two young children at the Riu Tequila, an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. But instead, Shelley ended up in the emergency room with apparent food poisoning.

I won’t bury the lede, as they say in journalism. She made a full recovery. The Harper’s bank account, however, is $1,849 poorer. (Wow, those Mexican hospitals are not cheap.) Who is responsible for her hospitalization, and who should pay?

Those are excellent questions, to which the Harpers still don’t have an acceptable answer.
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Can this trip be saved? Slipped and fell at a luxury resort — how about a refund?

The Langham Huntington, Pasadena is billed as a five-diamond “iconic landmark hotel” at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California. You can’t get a room next weekend for less than $200 a night.

But Joanne Pratt won’t be checking in to the Langham any time soon. During her last visit, she had an accident — I’ll let her explain what happened in a minute — and she wants me to help make things right.
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Can this honeymoon be saved? Help, they closed my resort in Fiji

Careful readers of this feature have probably figured out by now that it’s loosely based on the Ladies’ Home Journal column, Can This Marriage Be Saved?. We haven’t saved any marriages here — yet. But this week’s case may come the closest.

Meet Caroline Majsak, who is planning her honeymoon in Fiji. After months of research, she settled on Namale Plantation Resort, a gorgeous property that looks like it’s right off the cover of Architectural Digest. (As a matter of fact, it is.)

But then, only a few weeks before her trip, she was hit with “terrible news.” I’ll let her explain.
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The Murphys’ vacation in Punta Cana did not go well

Remember Murphy’s Law — anything that can possibly go wrong, does?

Well, meet the Murphys: Kevin and Amber Tait, who booked their 27th wedding anniversary at the Gran Bahia Principe in the Dominican Republic through

Their vacation did not go well. Not at all.

When they landed on the island, they were dropped off at the wrong hotel. They waited in the rain for an hour for a ride to their resort. They had reserved an ocean view room, but when they checked in, the property was out of oceanview rooms.

That was the best part of their vacation, it turns out.
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