Marriott Charges Resort Fees To Hotels That Want To Charge You Resort Fees

Marriott actually makes hotels pay them for the right to charge you a resort fee. Having just audited the franchise agreement for their AC Hotels and Westin brands, I found it fascinating that they charge a one-time $1500 fee, plus $550 per year, to hotels that bill customers resort or destination fees.

Often I get the sense that hotels which are not compliant with the Bonvoy program simply aren’t being audited. With well north of 7000 hotels, the chain just lacks the manpower (or desire to spend the costs) to ensure that hotels follow the rules. However the point of this fee, it seems, is to ensure that hotels are following the rules.

So when a hotel ‘cheats’ on their resort fees, Marriott can’t reasonably claim ignorance. A hotel should even have a plan to provide a benefit in lieu of internet to elite members, when internet is included in the resort fee’s so-called benefits. Marriott is taking a fee meant to ensure they aren’t ignorant of the hotel’s resort fee practices! (And, for that matter, to ensure that there’s not any cheating.)

AC Hotel owners must offer services “with a retail value that is at least four times greater than the destination or resort fee charged.”

Even more interesting is that the franchise agreement allows Marriott to exempt elite members of the Bonvoy program from paying resort and destination fees (something Hyatt does for its top tier Globalist members, and Hilton and Hyatt do on redemption stays for all members). Yet Marriott still doesn’t do this.

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. So, Marriott’s agreement with owners explicitly says top-tier elites are supposed to get waived elite fees but that is never done? Where are the class-action lawyers?

  2. Isn’t a franchise agreement usually proprietary information? Can you talk a bit about the sourcing for this? How have you authenticated it as genuine?

  3. @FNT Delta Diamond – I guess reading comprehension isn’t your strength. If you read what Gary posted it says the agreement “allows” Marriott to exempt top-tier elites from the resort fee but they have no opted to implement that change. That is a lot different than saying the agreement provides a waiver whereby top-tier elites don’t pay a resort fee.

    So quick to sue aren’t you. BTW, no lawyer would take this because clearly Marriott hasn’t triggered any waiver for resort fees so there is nothing to litigate.

    Move along please

  4. It might “allow” them but the hotels charge almost everyone the fees. Makes me wonder if they have some super secret elite level or special baller list. Maybe big corporate clients, etc.

  5. Free unlimited 800 calls accomplish that retail value up to a 75 dollar a day daily fee
    “Marriott Revenue dept”

  6. The Marriott web site should give an indication of whether the specific property is, or is not, allowed to charge resort fees. Then if anyone is charged a resort fee they would know if it’s not allowed, and could report the improper charges / non-compliance, and get a refund, The non-compliance should also trigger a review for other violations (and rectification). The properties would be hard pressed to protest the info being on the site, since it would basically be admitting they are not in compliance if they did.

    It would probably just be added revenue for Marriott, (as properties decide to pay to be in compliance) but maybe maybe a few properties would stop charging the fees. Those not in compliance are also the most likely not to make the resort fees clear on the site (until the last minute).

  7. Bogus resort fees are precisely why my company left Marriott. If more companies followed suit, Marriott would abandon resort fees.

  8. Wait… If we all score hotels as zero on our guest satisfaction surveys, does that mean their “intent to recommend” score might fall to such a level that it disqualifies them from being able to charge resort fees?

    I mostly ignored these surveys.

  9. It is about time Marriott started calling non-resort hotels on their resort fees to guests!
    I stopped using Marriott for that exact reason. Places I use to travel to before that were not listed as “resorts” were billing my stays as being part of a resort and charging parking fees as a resort would do with “park at your own risk” signs all over the parking lot, including for their residence rooms! Some Marriotts are now called Senesta hotels, and charge fees for parking, trying to keep your room cool when you’re not in it (so it is when you return before dusk, even with the curtains/ drapes closed).

  10. @ENOTTY – the franchise disclosure docs, not the franchise agreement, the docs are authentic 😉 If you’re interested, shoot me an email and I’ll send them to you. Hilton’s and others are easily available as well.

  11. @Daniel
    Don’t forget that the hotel gets to determine both sides of this equation though. Let’s say they hotel has a $30/day resort fee.
    Most hotels “include” parking in the resort fee, but will claim that the value provided is $30/day. So there’s your 1x right there.
    Oh, and free paddleboard rental at beach resorts. Maybe they’ll say that the value provided is $40/day.
    2x free welcome drinks @$10/ea, and 2x free daily waters @$5/ea.
    Now we’re at “3x value”, and the hotel cost is under $5/day – assuming you use all of the benefits every single day, which you won’t!
    Now toss in “included” shuttle service to the nearby town/beach/etc which they’ll say is worth $30/day (knowing, again, that the cost of the beater shuttle and poorly paid driver is amortized), we’re talking another $1/day at most in actual cost.

    So OOP costs for the hotel are around $4-6, they’ll charge you $25-$40, and pocket a nice chunk off each room each night.

    Yet Marriott can’t give even Titaniums a reprieve on these charges?!?

  12. Even prior to the pandemic I was so tired of being nicked and dimed by all of these hotels. If I use the pool or other “resort” amenities I should be charged a resort fee for THAT DAY. To be charged whether I use the amenities or not is criminal. Instead of segmenting this they should make it the total room cost since you have to pay it anyway. I bet they don’t do this because knowing the true amount of the cost per day might make people look for different accommodations. If they want to reward their best customers give them a percentage discount on every reservation

  13. Honestly, this is probably just Marriott trying to recoup the costs of implementing a resort fee on their website.

  14. Just out of curiosity, what is the link to the franchise agreement. I think some of us would like to read it for other tidbits like this one…

  15. Resort Fees are double dipping at its finest. Resort charges a premium price for location and amenities than charges again for resort fees.

    It’s just a scam to keep base rate of room rate down. Places like Atlantis in Bahamas are famous for it

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