Marriott Fined $225,000, Has One Month To Get Its Act Together Over Deceptive Resort Fees

In 2021 Marriott entered into a settlement with Pennsylvania over resort fees, promising to reform its practices. Despite the legally-binding commitment they didn’t actually do it. They received extensions, but still didn’t come into compliance. Now they’re being fined $225,000 and a court order requires them to comply by May 15.

I’ve documented Marriott properties advertising one resort fee and charging another, another Marriott that tried charging 4% extra for the lightbulbs in your room and another that added an extra fee to cover its property tax debt. Marriott franchises its hotels, and doesn’t exercise nearly the control they used to, and hotel owners have been running roughshod over the brand. But it’s Marriott that is marketing the rooms, and is responsible.

Since I’ve actually read the full settlement, here are 9 specific things Marriott has agreed to do:

  1. All rate displays have to include total price and it has to be the most prominently displayed price.

  2. Call center agents have to quote prices inclusive of fees, too.

  3. Rate displays sorted by price have to be sorted by total price inclusive of all costs

  4. Resort and destination fees cannot be lumped in with taxes in any display

  5. Prior to completing a booking Marriott has to display what’s provided by the property in exchange for the mandatory fee. This isn’t only something you’ll find out at check-in anymore, once implemented.

  6. Pennsylvania will take complaints regarding these practices, forward them to Marriott, and Marriott has 30 days to respond and attempt to resolve the complaint in good faith.

  7. Marriott is responsible for the behavior of its franchisees, although they can rely on information provided by franchisees in displaying information (e.g. if a hotel gives information which Marriott does not know to be false about what’s included in a resort fee, Marriott isn’t liable when it turns out the hotel lied).

  8. Marriott has to make data on resort fees available to online travel agencies and other parties who sell Marriott rooms. This largely happens already, but the goal is to allow OTAs to display all-in pricing, too.

  9. Marriott agrees not to engage in deceptive or unfair practices with respect to advertising mandatory fees like resort fees. That’s potentially significant to Bonvoy members.

The most important thing is to provide full resort fee information in a format usable by all travel sites, and then pushing online travel sites to show all-in pricing. Because what resort fees do is make it harder to compare pricing when you’re shopping hotels, if you’re only shown the price at check-out.

Marriott has entered a settlement and has to comply with the settlement, but the fine and deadline put Marriott in the news while other hotel chains remain bad actors.

In the meantime, one vigilante approach as a hotel guest is to try this. If you do, please report back your successes (and failures).

It’s a start for Marriott not to be deceptive in its own channels, but Expedia and need the information from all chains and need to make a commitment not to display deceptively low prices without fees. Of course neither one will do it unless the other does it, or else consumers will think they’re getting a better deal on the other site.

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. So will this only apply to Marriott properties in Pennsylvania, or are these changes expected to be US/worldwide for them?

  2. While $225,000 isn’t nothing, I imagine it’ll take more to get Marriott’s attention. Perhaps we can all test their update procedures and make sure to report in whenever there is a violation.

    How can numbers 1 and 4 both be followed?

    I assume this applies to Marriott properties in Pennsylvania, but that isn’t made clear here.

  3. Fess like this is why I have given up on Marriott. Hilton, BW, Choice,BW & Wyndham don’t sock it to me like Marriott. Enough is enough.

  4. If Marriott follow through on this, they suddenly become a more attractive chain as their rates will reflect the total, at least in PA.

  5. @Daniel

    I think the point of #4 is that they can’t have a “Taxes and Fees” line that lumps resort fees in with the actual taxes, but separate from the total price or room rate.

    Frankly, I think that should be a requirement for all price displays in all industries. Unless the same display also lists the various taxes and fees individually, they should not be allowed to have a “taxes and fees” line item that makes merchant-imposed fees look like taxes. *Looking at you, food delivery services and airlines*

  6. They suck…. Who gets that money?? The suckers who paid or a Marriott charity which they’ll get tax credit and Charity exposure???? Grrr

  7. Per the AG’s press release and Marriott’s own press release, it will apply to all US hotels.

  8. My latest Marriott negative experience was being denied the 4 PM late checkout at the Residence Inn River Place in Portland, Oregon. Was told the GM has changed the policy. 1 PM was the latest I could get because I used the Explorer rate. I’m Lifetime Titanium. Is this not a Martiott corporate policy? This property is not a resort or convention hotel where the late checkout policy is not honored.

  9. I honestly don’t understand why Marriott has – voluntarily. – subjected themselves to well deserved scrutiny over the shameful Resort / Destination Fee Scam for years.
    Hell, just add the damn fee to the roomrate – problem solved!

  10. Thank you Pennsylvania. I can think of some other people who you can take on, given that you seem to have an interest in ending these ripoffs.

  11. Marriott for the price in rooms that change on a daily basis to knowing the other side not as a guest but employee in which some Marriott hotels don’t provide the necessary supplies for some employees to do their job finding it upon myself to bring cleaning solutions to do housekeeping. I feel it is completely necessary that all Marriott hotel owners really look at their hotels & most importantly their employees for the enormous amount for one night stay these employees should definitely be earning more per hour or at least have the necessary supplies for them to do their job. Don’t get me wrong I completely love my job and completely enjoy working for Marriott hotels.

  12. This kind of fee would ideally be split 50/50 with the affected travelers. I realize there are logistic issues. (Although if it turns out to be like a 1% rebate maybe they should just continue to not comply?)

  13. No worries Bonvoid will just double the cost to redeem rooms on points to pay off
    the legal liabilities
    Why ruin a resort fee cash cow when they can pay the lawsuit off?
    Marriott addicted members will happily support this increase

  14. As someone who spends to many nights on Marriott properties I get very tired of getting nickeled and dimed everything I stay there. I am waiting to be charged for the oxygen I use on their properties.
    The Feds need a real fine e.g. 2 million per day per property.

  15. Most recent appalling fee – $32 to receive two small packages with medication delovered by UPS to my hotel while on vacation at Universal Studios Florida. Together the boxes were about the size of a tissue box and weighed less than 1 LB. LOWES Sapphire Falls Resort.

  16. I was a guest for 9 months at 79.00 a night, and was forced to leave on January 1 2023.

  17. I use all different brands of hotels and while yes Marriot has gotten worse. All of them have. IHG, Hilton, and Hyatt. It’s beginning to be underwhelming to maintain statuses with any of them. Get the airline points instead.

  18. I am a Hilton Diamond member and do not appreciate being charged a full resort fee because, half of the benefits included are already free for Diamond members. I suspect it is tge same with Marriott. Hotel rates have significantly increased since COVID and the rooms are only cleaned every second or third day of a stay. The junk fees added seem to be increasing in price with new fees being added. I agree Congress should act to eliminate junk fees.

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