If what happens in Vegas really stayed in Vegas we wouldn’t have to worry about the spread of some pretty pernicious hotel fees. But we probably should.
Like banks, airlines and car-rental companies, hotels lately have been tacking new fees onto all sorts of things. Las Vegas might be the leader in this, and the wise budget traveler wants to watch out for the tricks:
— “Resort fees” are becoming notoriously common and expensive, as the Vegas Chatter blog describes.
They run $5 to $25 a night, they’re taxable, and they’re especially deceitful because they usually provide no access to actual resort facilities, such as the posh spas that typically cost hotel guests another $25 to use. At several Strip and off-Strip hotels, the best you’ll get is a couple bottles of water in your room, a free newspaper, free local calls and use of the pool. (If you’re asking ‘Hey, didn’t the base room charge used to cover most of that?,” then you’re already onto what a scam this is.)
At least a half-dozen hotels, including New York-New York, are kicking in free in-room Internet access, something of real value. But there’s no “opt out.” Stay at the hotel, pay the fee – regardless of whether you ever go online.
A few of New York-New York’s other “resort services” are entertainingly ridiculous: ”Unlimited local and 800-number calls; domestic long-distance phone call rates of $0.10 per minute; boarding pass printing, notary services …” Nothing captures the all-night party atmosphere of Vegas quite like free notary services.
— “Phone fees” can wipe out the savings from special offers. The mega-chain MGM Mirage just e-mailed an appealing offer: Up to 30 percent discounts for advance bookings. It gives a special group code, and suggests using it to book online or through a toll-free reservations number. Tip: Do it online. The fine print here: “Call-in fee of $12.50 per night applies.”
The chain’s Excalibur hotel offers a guarantee: Book online at Excalibur.com, and they’ll reduce your rate if you later turn up any lower rate for the same dates. But you have to call to cash in on that, and it’ll cost you: “Call 1-877-750-5464 and we’ll be glad to lower your rate ($10 change fee applies).”
— Early check-in, late check-out fees, at least, give you something firm in exchange for your money. But they’re definitely a new revenue source for the hotel. The Luxor seems to be the pioneer on this one: For a $10 premium, you can guarantee check-in as early as 9 a.m. Another $10 lets you stay through 3 p.m. on check-out day