One Hotel Will Charge You $10,000 If You Get Fed Up With The Service And Leave

The 70,000 point per night Kimpton Seafire Resort on Grand Cayman offers pretty good award availability, but you’d better not have an emergency while you’re there and have to leave early – or get fed up with service failures either and decide to leave – because the hotel’s rules say they impose a $10,000 early departure fee.

When you’re making the reservation and click ‘rate details’ this is not mentioned at all. When you click through to finalize the booking it’s not in the terms and conditions, either. Instead it’s buried under ‘other charges’.

Now if you redeem an award and show up late or leave early it’s much better where you forfeit your points for a night if you check out a day early (or arrive a day late due to flight cancellations) the way that Starwood Preferred Guest used to permit. At least most hotels at Marriott and Hyatt will charge you the prevailing room rate and you get back your points. Maybe they’ll even be so bold as to charge you rack rate.

But this hotel (part of IHG Rewards Club), which was going for about $340 per night on the dates I checked, will charge you $10,000.

They also by the way say that they add a $75 resort fee per night on award redemptions. The IHG terms and conditions are silent on resort fees – though they are quite clear you should never have to pay taxes – but IHG has said in the past that resort fees shouldn’t be charged on redemption stays. Many hotels ignore this, and IHG customer service is hit and miss at best dealing with problems.

The world is uncertain enough right now. Why would anyone patronize this hotel, except perhaps if they didn’t notice the policy and only got whacked with it later by surprise?

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. I wonder if someone accidentally keyed in the cents in the dollar space? Reminds me of my first time using an ATM in Europe back in the 2000s after years of having to type in the cents at US ATMs, even though the machines only gave out 10s and 20s. Was so used to it that I didn’t realize until after the second time that it was rejecting my request because I didn’t have 30,000 Euros in my checking account instead of the 300 I thought I was asking for.

  2. You were lucky. That would have been one horrendous overdraft fee.

  3. Why is any hotel charging a resort fee given that most hotels even in partially opened destinations are not providing full service and amenities?

  4. On their site under FAQ:
    “Do you have an early departure fee?
    Yes. An early departure fee of the entire stay and tax may be applied if you check out before your scheduled departure date.”

  5. I do not understand the rationale or legality for early departure fees. Gary, could you perhaps explain that in another full post / article?

    It seems to me to be intentional that the wording hotels & resorts use is “early departure” instead of “early check-out” or similar.

    If I have a 4 or 5 night stay booked (points or cash) and decide to leave a night early but don’t checkout instead choosing to forfeit the cash or points for that final night then I don’t understand how the hotel/resort can justify or get away with charging me a penalty for paying the agreed upon rate while not sleeping in the room or on the property.

  6. @Andrew i have the same question. Call to ‘check out’ the day of your reserved departure.

  7. Or don’t check out ever. I never do. It’s never a problem. How do they know when I left ? They do not.

  8. @Andrew – As to the rationale of early departure fees,.. Without one imagine how many people would decide to leave a resort early when they saw the weather wasn’t to their liking.

  9. @CarlWV but the resort could easily structure it that instead of a penalty they just charge the previously agreed upon nightly rate. ie the rate and reservations can’t be cancelled once the stay commences. Why add the penalty? Especially on top of the rate already being paid.

  10. @Andrew – For me the early departure fee is often the what the room would have otherwise run. I’m not sure how many charge more than what the room runs, We are in agreement, I thought you just meant why charge anything.

    If it’s a full charge plus a penalty just don’t check out until the end (and maybe out a do not disturb).

  11. Just to be clear, I think this is shady AF and outrageous, but:

    At a big resort (particularly in a remote destination), the room rate is only part of the revenue the hotel is getting from a guest. The addition of food and beverage probably makes up a significant part of the margins for these hotels, and that revenue is totally lost if a guest leaves early. And if it’s a remote resort, the chances of filling a room on short notice is probably close to 0.

    Also – everyone saying “just leave early and don’t checkout” – A lot of resorts like this I’ve been to, and hotels in foreign countries this isn’t as easy as it is for domestic hotels. Many places you have to present your credit card for it to be used again for the final bill.

    Once I actually left a hotel a day early, forgot to check out, and got checked out the following day automatically. Fairfield Inn or something in the US. Oops!

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