Hyatt Faces New Class Action Lawsuit Over Resort Fee Fraud

A new private lawsuit has been filed against Hyatt over resort fees. Consumer group Travelers United has filed a class action in Washington, D.C. against the chain. Especially highlighted in the complaint is the Grand Hyatt Washington and its ‘destination fee’.

  • The hotel adds a $20 per night destination fee
  • And Hyatt bundles this into “taxes and fees” – disclosed late in the checkout process – making it appear that this is a mandatory government charge

Travelers United is suing under the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act requires businesses to sell products at their advertised prices. But Hyatt advertises prices for this hotel at rates consumers cannot pay, since the hotel adds on a fixed amount to its prices in the form of destination fees.

Resort Fees Harm Consumers

Resort fees at hotels are a scam. They are mandatory, which means they are part of the cost of your room. But they aren’t included in the room rate. The advertised rate doesn’t cover the cost of the room.

Hotels do this because,

  • It makes them look cheaper than the competition, or at least if other hotels are charging resort fees it keeps them from looking more expensive
  • In some jurisdictions it may save them on taxes, versus bundling in the room rate. It also may save on commissions.
  • It may also fool customers into feeling that their stay is cheaper than it is.

If the bundles of goods contained in resort and destination fees were beneficial to guests, they would be voluntary and guests would buy them. In most cases they’re items that are useless to the majority of guests, but with high headline ‘values’ to perpetuate the fiction that they’re valued-added.

The practice harms consumers. Separating out part of the price of a hotel room from the price makes it harder to compare costs, even when the resort fee is disclosed prior to booking. You search hotels, and see a display that doesn’t include full cost. So you’d have to click through to the final confirmation for each one and build a spreadsheet to do a comparison.

Governments Have Turned Against Resort Fees

During the Obama administration the Federal Trade Commission offered guidance that as long as resort fees were disclosed prior to booking. However more recently government opinion has turned against these fees.

President Biden has called for a ban on resort fees but isn’t actually doing anything about them (essentially, preserving them as a pocket book campaign issue).

Four years ago several state attorneys general sued major hotel chains over their resort fee practices. Marriott entered into a settlement with Pennsylvania because that state was willing to forego any penalties and just obtain commitments of better behavior going forward.

Generally Marriott displays full prices including taxes and fees on its website, but you won’t see it when comparing different hotel brands with Marriott hotels on other sites. (Marriott doesn’t always comply.) My understanding is that Hilton has the technology ready to do the same thing, but is just waiting to see what direction the industry goes. Other chains would face an IT lift.

After Marriott was set up with resort fee transparency on its own site, Marriott settled with Texas agreeing to do what it was already doing (and not pay penalties for past behaviors). This was trumpeted as a win by embattled state attorney general Ken Paxton. Paxton is also suing Hyatt.

This Is An Industry-Wide Problem, Not A Hyatt Problem

It’s not clear to me why Marriott and Hyatt are most in the crosshairs. In Texas, at least, Hyatt may be seen as ‘the Democrat hotel chain’ since it’s controlled by the Pritzker family, heavy donors to Democrats, it includes a sitting state governor, as well as a former cabinet secretary in the Clinton administration. (The family wasn’t all Democrats.)

Hilton has been sued by other state attorneys general. IHG has some of the least control over its franchisees and has anecdotally resulted in some of the most egregious charges.

Across chains we’ve seen hotels assess extra fees for electricity in the room, for the hotel’s property taxes, and for credit card acceptances (whether paying with a credit card or not!) – fees that aren’t disclosed up front and sometimes not even prior to making a booking. Marriott still hasn’t fully gotten its act together but has moved in a positive direction to at least disclose all of these fees through its own channels, but ever-consumer unfriendly online booking sites haven’t improved.

Consumer lawsuits in jurisdictions with friendly consumer statutes are an interesting approach to pushing the industry to further clean up its act.

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. @Gary – I think you need to rephrase this: “Resort fees at hotels are a scam. They are mandatory, which means they are part of the cost of your room.”

    Resort fees aren’t mandatory. Unlike taxes and government surcharges, resort fees aren’t required by a governmental agency. Resort fees are an optional charge which the business has invented
    to add an additional revenue stream, and which all guests are required to pay.

    [Of course, we all know what you are trying to say, but your language isn’t reflecting those thoughts.]

  2. Glad to see the hotels challenged on their deceptive business practices, and I hope
    Hyatt and other such hotels lose enough money that it signals to other hotels that they are going to have to abandon these anti-consumer scams sooner than later. I can only dream that the hotels doing this kind of deceptive business practice would be hit with such punitive damages that they rush to return to the old norm of none of these scam fees.

  3. I remember a time when European hotels and rental car agencies scammed tourists, while their US brethren were honest and straightforward. Unfortunately, now the opposite is true.

    Whenever I book a hotel, I email or message them asking if there are any additional fees. If there are, I stay somewhere else..

  4. @KimmieA Good luck trying to get out of them at any Vegas Strip hotel. They are mandatory amd nowhere near “optional”.

    Resort fees are a huge scam and Biden and other State Government officials talk a good game but in the end do nothing because these corps are donors.

  5. It bears repeating “Resort Fees at Hotels are a Scam!” Really nothing else needs to be said.

  6. But airline fees are AOK I suppose. If you are going to bash hotels, why not include the airlines? The hotels only copied what the airlines did previously

  7. Is it moot ? Hyatt has been displaying the cost inclusive of destination fees recently. Prominently displayed as well, once you choose a specific hotel.

  8. @Nigel – airline fees are not mandatory. Don’t want to pay to check a bag, don’t check a bag. It is not mandatory, unlike a “resort fee”. That is Gary’s point. Don’t fly Frontier or Spirit and don’t pay fees… don’t check a bag and don’t pay for a better seat. Completely up to the purchaser.

  9. If you’re going to bash hotels, how about purchasing event tickets online, where fees can be as much as 20% of the ticket. How many times have any of us purchased a $150 ticket only to end up paying $225 after taxes and fees?

  10. Is it ok to admit I am conflicted about this? On one hand I agree that these fees are a scourge and they add in items of limited or no value and are really there to just make the hotel look cheaper than it really is.

    BUT … as a top tier Hyatt member it benefits me because I don’t pay those resort/destination fees so in reality it keeps my per night rate lower. Because we all know that the outcome is that if hotels have to eliminate these fees they’ll just raise the per night price to compensate.

  11. Agree with @beachfan. This is now a non-issue from the standpoint of the lawsuit as the total price (inclusive of these fees) has been shown up front for maybe a month or so.

    They’re still a scam, but that’s a different issue from disclosure.


  12. Congress has the sole power to legislate this scam away: what are they doing?

    So, which political party is doing nothing?

  13. Whenever I book hotels in the US I use booking agents that give you a guaranteed price, I wouldn’t dare book direct for fear of this scam.

    They lose more to the agent than the resort fee.

  14. I was angry about resort fees during Covid when all resort amenities were closed. Many resorts still have half their amenities closed for repair, etc. Yet full resort fee is charged.

  15. I agree with the statement it’s a scam. However, except a few places like Vegas, there are many places where you can decide to just not stay at a hotel that charges them. There are a number of hotels in NYC that charge “destination fee” and now I just avoid them and pick one that doesn’t.

    However… Why isn’t the rental car industry getting such attention. There are half a dozen fees added on to the price and they ALL do this. And there’s no getting out of them. I’m talking about “license fee”, “vehicle concession fee”, “registration fee”, “airport facility charge” (where applicable) etc etc. The actual cost per day can frequently can be double the base rate, varies from one location to another and from one rental company to another and is mandatory (unlike the insurance which you at least get a choice on). It makes comparison almost impossible.

  16. I’ve stayed in Nashville several times, and last year I screwed up by going over the summer instead of the winter.
    When I checked out, my bill was over double the advertised rate, and I was being charged fees for things I specifically asked the hotel if they charged fees for, like bringing my dog. I was shocked when they said there was no pet fee, and even more shocked when checking in, and the pet fee was $100 a day.
    They didn’t work with us at all on any of the fees.
    Travel is becoming such a scam. I get a weekend trip maybe once every couple of years, and I try not to ruin it by nickel and diming, but it’s ridiculous.

  17. Hyatt and Hilton are taking cues from Ticketmaster/Live Nation where BS “service fees” are tacked onto every ticket purchase. The airlines do it too, up-charging for “preferred seats” and other supposed amenities or conveniences that should be included in the ticket price. It’s all borderline fraud, and should be abolished by law. This growing, despicable practice is nothing less than boldfaced corporate greed. Shame on them all.

  18. “Generally Marriott displays full prices including taxes and fees on its website, but you won’t see it when comparing different hotel brands with Marriott hotels on other sites. (Marriott doesn’t always comply.) My understanding is that Hilton has the technology ready to do the same thing, but is just waiting to see what direction the industry goes. Other chains would face an IT lift.” – I’m pretty sure all major chains have their IT ready, for a simple reason that they already have to show the full price, including whatever fees and taxes are applicable, in most markets.

  19. Anybody flying Spirit or Frontier should have their head examined. Both horrible. Fees ludicrious.

  20. @ As a Globalist and Royal Ambassador, I love these fees, as they mean that others subsidize my stays at Hyatt brands and at ICs.

  21. This addresses fees from an individual traveler perspective. I work on the meetings side of the industry helping groups negotiate terms for their meetings and conventions. The “resort” or “hotel” fees are always a point of discussion and negotiation. More, meeting planners believe that there are ‘hidden fees’ far beyond these about which they know nothing until the final bill is received. A few points: 1) interviewed recently by Prevue Magazine for a 2 part article (, I was clear that many fees for meetings are less hidden than not having fees taken for granted because ‘in the old days’ groups didn’t pay for them – electrical charges in meeting rooms, meeting room rental charges, “+++” on banquet F&B; and b) the fine print of policies may mention there may be a fee and the group doesn’t ask and contract for what it is may be.

    One more thing: consumers – those attending meetings and those traveling for leisure – should ask if the rates they are paying are commissionable to a third party – travel company, site selection (for meetings) company, or other. Would the rate be lower if it weren’t commissionable? Depends on who you ask! Current third parties who work on that model (I do not) say their volume bookings ensures best rates. Retired-from-hospitality sales and marketing folks say “what do you think?”!

  22. After working at a major hotel as a resort reservation agent, it was required to include the value added of the destination and resort fee. The company traines its agents what to say to travelers. I called it puppets on a string. I didn’t believe in the hotel reservation process. I had the highest reservation per month with great consumer comments. I hid in the background and provided excellent guest service. I was honest with guest. Management did not care for me, so they fired me. Advice: if you book a hotel read all the information, if it doesn’t make sense then ask questions.

  23. This is why I no longer go to Vidanta Resorts in Mexico. At the Grand Bliss in Rivera Maya the resort fee was $150 for a hotel room $450 for 1 bedroom with kitchenette and $700 for 2 bedroom with full kitchen on top of the room rate.

  24. Parking fees are a bigger scam in my opinion. Even established properties are tracking them on. Many locations are now in the +$20/night territory.

  25. Parking fees are usually because the garages are not owned or operated by the hotels. In many cases, there is not even a negotiated rate. If you find $20/night, I think that’s ‘not bad’ given that many city hotels are charging $50++/night to park. Safety is a greater consideration. And valet parking is, I fear, going the way of room service: buh-bye.

  26. One other benefit to hotel chains such as Marriott from resort charges is that they don’t earn the member points e.g., Marriott excludes resort charges from earning points in their terms as follows: “2.1.c. Non-Qualifying Charges. Charges which do not qualify for Points include… (C)… mandatory or automatic charges (e.g., resort charges)…”

    So, even chains to have to show resort charges when showing the price to customers, they are likely to continue to be a thing because chains such as Marriott benefit by excluding them from points earning.

  27. When I stay at breathless a hyatt inclusive property. There are no resort fees which I find strange and keep waiting for those to show up.

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