Hyatt Clamps Down On Hotel Improperly Charging A Resort Fee By Changing Its Name

Hyatt doesn’t hit guests with resort fees when they redeem points. Hilton doesn’t either, though chains like Marriott do often impose cash surcharges on ostensibly ‘free’ night awards.

Uniquely, Hyatt also doesn’t charge their top tier Globalist members for resort fees on paid stays. These same policies apply when the hotel isn’t a resort, and they call it a ‘destination fee’ as well.

Hotels, though, still want to charge the fee. Hyatt is reimbursing the hotel for this benefit, but at a discount.

The Hyatt House San Juan charges a resort fee but calls it a “Hotel Fee’ and has been billing Globalist members for it. Here’s what it includes:

A daily hotel fee of 16% (subject to change) is applied to each room of your stay in order to provide the following services and amenities, which enhance the guest experience. Please contact the hotel directly for more information.

Enhanced Wifi internet speed.
Two daily bottles of water in your room
Complementary local coffee in your room.
Use of the 24/7 GYM
Use of the Business Center
Use of the Game Room area

A top tier member sent me their folio showing the charge:

I asked Hyatt whether this property had found a loophole? After all the program terms say,

In some instances, a hotel or resort may charge other fees (such as a “service fee”) that are independent of any resort, destination, or facility fee charged by that hotel or resort. Any such fees will not be waived for Globalists pursuant to this benefit.

But does that mean that a hotel can just call their resort fee a service fee (which is how it appears on the folio) and bill the Globalist on a paid night?

No, they cannot. It took a bit, but official word from Hyatt is:

[R]esort/destination fees that are occasionally called by another name (e.g., facility fees) get waived for all award stays and for a Globalist’s eligible paid stays.

In the case of Hyatt House San Juan, we are clarifying fee guidelines with the hotel and will ensure this benefit is applied appropriately.

Anyone that has paid a ‘service charge’ at Hyatt House San Juan who should not have – e.g. Globalists on a paid stay – should contact Hyatt’s customer service to process a refund. I’d much prefer it if they ran a search of guest folios and processed refunds automatically, but that would be technically challenging (though it shouldn’t be) and costly to the property owner.

I share this story both in case this particular property strays again but also because they are not alone. Other hotels have tried this, and you should be aware.

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, 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. Gotta love how the resort fee includes “Complementary” coffee. Sorry, I meant “hotel fee”.

  2. All the Japanese Hyatts have enormous service fees. Are these supposed to be waived for Globalists?

  3. @Gary” “I’d much prefer it if they ran a search of guest folios and processed refunds automatically, but that would be technically challenging (though it shouldn’t be) and costly to the property owner.”

    A few seconds (to write and run) database query.

  4. I would love to see IHG do something similar. Hotels like Kimpton Wilshire charge a ‘Hotel Worker Protection Fee” on award nights in Los Angeles, even though IHG T&C’s clearly only allow resort fees to be charged. All mandatory taxes and fees should be included in an award stay. The hotel argues it’s a ‘cost-of-doing-business’ but so are fire alarms and sprinklers, yet they can’t add a ‘Fire Prevention Fee”. I tried to have IHG remove this fee during a recent stay, and while they agreed with me, they said the hotel must refund me (which the hotel refused to do!)

  5. Thanks for sharing Gary! HR Aruba does something similar. I’ve heard they call it something different so Globalists still have to pay.

  6. If its costly to the owner, then maybe that’s exactly what they need to help them understand the t&cs of the program, or otherwise take down the damn flag and rebrand as an indie hotel.

  7. Should actually be easy for Hyatt to do for members, given they have receipts available thru WoH

  8. We are all paying the new resort fee/ hotel fee with the more recent massive point devaluations.
    Hyatt once was a very honest company for many years but now we see Hyatt trying to be
    Marriott in pricing and many of the subpar owners manipulating standard room availability
    and other shady business practices
    Prior to Hyatt partnering with Chase to offer a Hyatt credit card it was a world class company to do business with
    Now they have to police the bad actors out there with the fee pollution creep
    My business is way down with them after decades of a super long run
    They have lost their Hyatt Touch even in most of their 5 star properties
    There was an actual time throughout history they took guest service and experience
    very seriously.With this property I imagine they could be sued for not taking action

  9. Hyatt is one of the only big chains that seem to do a good job of policing their hotels. Whatever you pay there, you have a good chance of getting what you’re supposed to get.

  10. San Juan and other Puerto Rico hotels, across all brands, are among the worst offenders. Many of them charge percentage-based resort fees, which is absurd because whatever amenities are included in the resort fee should be the same price no matter what rate a guest pays.

  11. @Carl: File a lawsuit in small claims court or alternatively file a consumer protection complaint with your state’s consumer protection office or attorney general.

  12. @Ivan B: Hyatt does the best job policing its hotels because Hyatt owns and/or manages a much higher percentage of the hotels across all brands within its portfolio. This is especially true among properties flagged under a full-service brand.

    Outside Kimpton and Intercontinental, IHG properties (especially within the UK and North America) are operated by a franchisee or a third-party management company hired by the franchisee.

    Hilton and Marriott have more corporate-managed properties than IHG, but not nearly as many as Hyatt. For Marriott, almost all W, Edition and Ritz-Carlton properties are operated by corporate. There are a few exceptions; like the Chicago, Montreal and Kuala Lumpur Ritz-Carlton properties. Most JW Marriott, Renaissance, Marriott, Westin and Sheraton properties within North America are not managed by corporate. Corporate still manages many, if not most, of these brands in Europe, Asia/Pacific and the Middle East.

  13. Why don’t they just charge $350 for the room? Like another $48 is a deal breaker? People going all the way down there are already sinking thousands on their vacation.
    Yes, I know Gary has mentioned the hotel saves on commission to travel agents. What is tha, 2 bucks? Is it worth upsetting people? SMH…..

  14. “that would be technically challenging … and costly to the property owner”

    So what? That’s their problem. They chose to break the program rules!

  15. I wish they’d give a guarantee for globalists who were improperly charges resort fees. Make the hotel give say 2000 bonus points for any offense where they charge them when they shouldn’t. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to call the hotel to get resort fees removed from the folio. It’s like some try to charge them thinking people won’t bother calling them on it. Then when you call, they blame it on training new staff. I bet if the hotel had to pay out for points every time they charged the fee when they weren’t supposed to, then they’d get it right more times than not. The biggest offenders seem to be Waikiki Regency, Newport Beach, Panama City Hyatt Place, and all of the San Diego hotels.

  16. @Tonya, That’s one advantage of Marriott. Marriott has compensation for certain benefits, unlike Hyatt or IHG. Yes, getting the compensation sometimes takes quite the effort but at least there is a penalty. $100 penalties for failing to deliver a benefit adds up after a while.

  17. I never pay hidden fees. If the manager won’t remove them, I dispute the charge with my credit card. Either way, I won’t return to any hotel charging undisclosed fees.

  18. I have an upcoming stay at Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, and they are charging a resort fee for the nights booked with points, just not for the night that’s a category 1-4 free night award.

  19. The key to healthy capitalism is clear signposting. People wont engage if theyre ripped off. Time for congressional action.

  20. Oh you guys got it so bad. Look I use to be the top reservation supervisor for a Sheraton Hotel in the Bay area. But now I cannot afford to even stay there. I mean if I am lucky I’ll be able to stay at a 7flags or similar and you know what you get at a place like that.? Never pull down the comforter you may need to check the edge of the bed frame for critters and good luck if you can get a microwave to use. And good luck with the shower or bath cause you may want to bring some Clorox wipes to wipe the tub out first. Why don’t you all maybe consider investing some of your dough into these small city mom pop places so we can all enjoy a good night sleep in a comfy bed. Instead of always playing the high side check out the low side. Make it better. If you care. Thanks. Oh ya and also next time you go to reserve you a room at one of these fancy places try making your reservation with a sales representative. That way you will not have these problems any longer. Ever again.. !
    Ask for a sales department associate. Badaboom.

  21. Its absurd that a Hyatt House, a limited service brand within the Hyatt family, charges a resort fee. Hotel brands should only allow “resort fees” to be charged at full-service hotels.

  22. Easy answer: if there’s any fee beyond the room rate, don’t book there. If hotels can’t learn to price the room rate sufficiently to cover margins, they don’t deserve to be in business.

  23. What about service fees from Hyatt hotels in Asia (Japan, Thailand, etc.). Aren’t these just resort fees by another name?

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