Does Hilton’s Hotel del Coronado Have The Country’s Worst Resort Fee?

I’ve only seen one hotel ever claim that your room rate doesn’t cover use of the bathroom mirror or TV in the room, and that this was covered by a resort fee instead. But when I flagged the stupidity, the hotel addressed it.

Maybe the second-most egregious resort fee I’ve come across belongs to Hilton’s Hotel Del Coronado which charges a $50 per night resort fee. Here’s how they describe the included benefits,

Daily Mandatory Charge will be added to the room rate and includes: Internet access; beach yoga, sculpt-tone, & meditation classes; Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, & YouTube streaming; discount tickets for USS Midway, San Diego Zoo, & whale watching. Also includes $15 Historical Preservation Fund charge.

According to an agent at the hotel, they no longer offer the ‘Sculpt Tone’ or the ‘Meditation’ classes (they stopped offering them in the summer). So you get these free, but they don’t exist. The Beach Yoga class is one hour offered once per day (at 10 a.m.). According to a Hilton spokesperson that’s good enough: “The hotel confirmed they offer a selection of fitness classes so guests have the flexibility to choose the class that best fits their schedule.” I guess, that is, as long as the guest’s schedule is flexible at 10 a.m.

Hotel del Coronado does not actually provide “Netflex, Hulu, Pandora & YouTube streaming” – the resort fee covers use of the in-room TV to stream their own content.

I asked Hilton about the mandatory $15 Historical Preservation Fund donation and they declined to answer. It’s not clear to me whether this program is actually getting donations for each guest on property. It’s a government program which receives about $120 million in annual federal appropriations, matched 40% with state dollars. If I had to guess the hotel is under a requirement or agreement with a government body to donate, perhaps related to zoning or permitting and the hotel lists this mandatory expense as a ‘benefit’.

For all of Marriott’s faults – and their resort fees are still egregious – their hotels are only allowed to impose them on guests when the property has an above-average likelihood to recommend score and when the package of ‘benefits’ have a retail value at least four times as high as the fee itself. I specifically asked about any such requirements, and a Hilton spokesperson told me, “Decisions about mandatory fees are made by ownership and management at a property level.”

The spokesperson sums up Hilton’s position, when I asked them whether Hotel del Coronado was in compliance with any rules the chain has for such charges:

These fees, which are charged at a small number of our properties globally, are meant to enable additional value for our guests by offering a bundle of amenities and services that align to a property’s unique features, and can enhance the guest’s stay.

An in-room TV does, I suppose, enhance a guest’s stay. Although I’m not sure it really “align[s]” with the “property’s unique features.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I was conceived in that hotel in room 3265 on Feb 14 1974. The only reason I know that is because my father was in the US Navy and had shore leave Valentines Day weekend (Was at sea for 5 months before and 3 months after) and my mom booked a room at the Hotel Del to celebrate. Its a cool property, but has gone downhill since Hilton took it over. Way too expensive now and this resort fee is laughable.

  2. I found it absurd that the Homewood Suites by Hilton Orlando-International Drive/Convention Center listed “Electric Service” as an “amenity” but at least they didn’t charge a resort fee for it 🙂

  3. Rip Off Fees.
    Awhile back I was going to take my wife to Coranado for our anniversary. I also found an American Airlines package deal, round trip LAX to London and 5 hotel nights included for less money than Del Coronado. I gave my wife the choice, 5 nights in San Diego or 5 Nights in London.
    We went to UK and had a great time. Why waste your money on the Del Coronado Fire Trap>

  4. The physical structure of the Hotel Del is transporting and amazing, and its history is breathtaking, and its restaurants and bars are beautiful and good, but the rooms themselves could be in a Hilton Garden Inn in Akron. I frequently visit but never stay. The ludicrous resort fee reinforces the prudence of that decision.

  5. The LXR Oceana in Santa Monica had a $45 a night resort fee. On top of a $900+ night rate. Resort fee was similar to the Coronado.

    Wi-Fi.
    Morning beach yoga.
    Beach cruiser bike rentals.
    Water and coffee.
    Newspaper delivery.
    In-room streaming/Bluetooth.
    Welcome gift and beverage.
    Use of the house car within a three-mile radius.

    Thankfully, I had a boatload of pandemic Amex Free night certs, which removed the resort fee. I did actually use the the beach cruiser rental. It’s egregious. I would not pay cash there.

  6. With all these cheats and Nickle and diming you’d think you were dealing with the democrat party.

  7. The only good thing I can say about these junk fees is they’re at least somewhat consistent within a local area. For example if you’re booking a hotel in Manhattan you can expect a $30 junk fee no matter what brand or chain. Economic forces are not going to make junk fees go away. There is not going to be a cultural uproar because it will be seen as privileged people (staying in hotels) complaining about a triviality. Also a lot of negotiated corporate rates exclude junk fees. I’ve stayed in hotels for business where I didn’t even know they charged a junk fee until I tried to book the same hotel for a personal trip. Legislation is needed to force the lodging industry to quote all inclusive rates.

  8. We had a very nice 4 or 5 night stay at the Del over Christmas a couple of years ago. It was affordable by using cash and points. I remember seeing the resort fee when booking. I reminded myself to be careful … these blatant money grabs indicate management who thinks their guests are complete idiots and will pay anything because ‘it’s the Del’. When I encounter a situation like that, I spend as little as possible at the hotel. We had several lavish meals while in San Diego, but none of them were at the hotel. Nobody likes to be considered a chump, especially a Diamond Elite chump.

  9. I hate these out-of-control scam-you fees, but this might be worth it for some depending on how large are the discounts $$$ for the USS Midway, San Diego Zoo, & whale watching for those travelers who have these activities in their plans. Gotta mention that:

    the USS Midway is $18 – $26 per visit/ticket
    One-Day Pass at the San Diego Zoo is $51 – $71
    While whale watching could be as much ass $55 (gate price) per person!

    For a family of 6, this could be a good deal! But, again, for a family of 6 (2-3 rooms) that can afford this hotel, discount at these venues are the last of their worries.

    Better alternative: Homewood Suites Liberty Station

  10. “I was conceived …”, reminds me of a very amusing Navy anecdote. Please, absolutely no disrespect or aspersion intended, just a recollection. USS Nimitz (CVN-68), North Atlantic work-ups 1986 and Med deployment 1987, the “be-no” deployment (be no liberty, be no women, be no beer, be no fun) when some of our liberty port calls were cancelled. Well before email and internet, communications with home were by snail mail delivered to the ship 2-3 times per week by COD (carrier onboard delivery) planes, with a 1-2-3 week delivery time and phone calls during infrequent liberty port calls.

    When we had been away from homeport for a month or 2 and an officer, especially a pilot, received a letter, usually from his wife, stating that she was pregnant, and he (all male crew at the time) told a shipmate, the most appropriate, in true Navy fashion, reply was: “congratulations, do you know who the father is?”

    My apologies if anyone is offended, I just couldn’t resist.

  11. First off, does anyone know when resort fees became common practice? Second, resort fees are nothing but made-up junk fees that hotels can charge. Most resort fees include “free local and 800 toll free calls, towel service at the pool, 10% off at the overpriced spa, 2 bottle waters per stay, internet access”
    I’m a Hilton Diamond member. Explain to me how these resort fees benefit me. As a Diamond member, at any Hilton brand hotels, I’m already qualified to get 2 bottles of water, “premium” wifi, nobody uses the hotel phones anymore, they’re pretty much obsolete, and every hotel provides towels at the pool, otherwise, I’ll just my bath towel” Resort fees do not provide any value. It’s just a rip off hotels can charge for tax free revenue.

    The trick I’ve learned to avoid hotel fees is to pay using Hilton points. Even if it’s one or two nights only. Hilton does not charge resorts fees when Hilton points are used.

  12. 1) Forcing someone to donate to a fund to stay at a hotel has to border a line of ethics if not legality?
    2) This is the best case to continue being a Hyatt Globalist, which has no resort/destination fees for paid or award stays. I simply would not stay here, at all. Some of us do read the fine print. Hilton, especially, is a fading flower.

  13. Leave enough 1 star reviews on all the sites every time you encounter these legal extortion ploys. If enough of us stand up and tank their reviews, it will get their attention.

  14. ……”Legislation is needed to force the lodging industry to quote all inclusive rates.”

    Ding ding ding……we have a winner!!!

  15. Parking is another $50/day. It’s $20 for the first 2 hours and then $10/hr after that for the pleasure of getting ripped off at their bars and restaurants. Joke’s on us.

  16. Chad needs to go to “how to reform an f’in snowflake” school. Just when you think a post could possibly be no political …….back to Mommies basement Chad.

  17. Chad needs to go to “how to reform a snowflake” school. Just when you think a post could possibly be no political …….back to Mommies basement Chad.

  18. Only hotel that has ever inspired me to go write a negative review on I can’t even remember which website. Overpriced, absurd resort fee that didn’t even cover beach chairs (extra charge; wheeee!), not to mention sewage backing into the tub in one of our two rooms. Awful place.

  19. It’s not new, however. I can quote M Thenardier in the song ‘Master of the House’:

    Charge ‘‘em for the lice,
    Two percent for looking in the mirror twice,

  20. I refuse to book a reservation at any hotel with a resort fee. They are inherently dishonest. Boston Hilton is the silliest example. If I’m in an area with all resort fee hotels I go with Abnb. the only way to get rid of the fee is to boycott.

  21. Good news is at least no resort fees on award stays with Hilton as opposed to Marriott. I have 2 nights coming up on Amex certs in a few weeks at the Del. Hard to argue too much on free, though I agree not sure I would spend 95k points for a night.

  22. We stayed at The Del many, many years ago before it was a Hilton property. My wife and I still remember to this day how crazy the resort fee was even then. We joke that we had to pay for every flush of the toilet. Literally everything was an additional charge…

  23. Good property but all the food is Sodexo crap and 50% over-priced. On the bright side, so much good food in walking distance.

  24. Time to get out of the US. The world is on sale.

    How about a 4 star in Braga Portugal, best part of town $65 total. Nice 3 star in San Sebastian Spain, best part of town, across from the beach $50 total

    5 star Zaragoza Spain $129.

  25. Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The resort “fee” amounts to around $1,000 for 7 nights. In addition to the exorbitant cost to stay there.

  26. I have stayed at the best of the best but have never incurred as miserable a place as Del Coronado in San Diego. Miserable staff, miserable room for an outrageous charge. I even think they charged for the air I was breathing. NEVER AGAIN. DONT DO IT, WASTE OF $

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