The Marriott Courtyard Jefferson City in Missouri adds $4.90 onto award bookings, and that’s strange since the hotel doesn’t have a resort or destination fee. The website doesn’t tell you what this fee is for. But it’s really quite interesting – and galling.
Late Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson at least argued that add-on fees had to provide value to guests. Here this unexplained $4.90 doesn’t appear to do this at all.
A reader flagged it for me and shared Marriott’s response explaining that this is a government fee so the hotel can add this to customer folios and promised that it would be more clearly explained on the site.
The Pace Energy Fee is in relation to a Green energy program developed by the state that assists establishments to develop Green energy buildings. The hotel will add this to Add’t Charges section…
However Marriott Bonvoy awards are supposed to cover taxes on room nights. The program’s terms item 3.2.e says that free night redemptions cover taxes on the room, and that the member is responsible for “incidentals, resort fees and The Ritz-Carlton Club level charges, rollaways, and other fees.”
And it turns out this is not tax imposed on stays at all. It’s a program that,
- Allows companies to borrow money to make green improvements to buildings
- And repay that money as part of their property tax bill
So it’s either debt or property taxes, depending on how you look at it, but it is not a fee assessed on room nights and it is not a tax paid by guests. Instead the hotel is misleadingly treating it as a tax, when it’s an extra $4.90 per night meant to raise revenue for the hotel’s owners, justified by the cost of repaying debt.
Moreover the program promotes that the owner’s energy savings each year will be greater than what they add onto property taxes so the developer is already coming out ahead, before adding money onto customer folios.
This is a new hotel that opened during the pandemic. The owners purchased an old hospital building and incorporated stones from that building into the hotel’s portico and back patio. According to the hotel’s Facebook page it’s a franchise managed by PMI Hotels.
The fee this hotel charges to award guests (and fails to adequately disclosed to paid guests, too) is just another indication that Marriott has lost control of the owners using its brand for a fee. Whether it’s hotels tacking on undisclosed fees for the lightbulbs in your room or franchisees charging extra to accept Marriott’s own credit cards hotels get away with taking advantage of guests and Marriott only acts when the properties are called out publicly. Otherwise, it seems, they cash franchise fee checks and call it a day – insufficiently concerned with the damage being done to its reputation.