This Marriott Hotel Assesses A Fee To Cover Property Tax Debt When Members Redeem Points

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,

  1. Allows companies to borrow money to make green improvements to buildings
  2. 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.

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. Several hotels in Paris collect a occupancy tax imposed by the city on award stays. One example is the Renaissance Republique.

  2. Covering a $4.90 charge on award bookings at a Courtyard in Jefferson City, MO? Must be an extremely slow news day.

  3. Marriott is now a punchline. In the series Succession, a character is kidnapped by terrorists in Morocco. When he returns to the US, he tells his co workers that he’s survived worse: “once I had to stay at a Marriott hotel.”

  4. I’m not much of a Marriott customer, but following the various postings and subsequent comments here, I get the impression, that like Hertz, management has lost its way and the inmates (vehicle recovery/security folks at Hertz and franchisees at Marriott) are running the asylum without management realizing the long term damage that’s being done to the business.

  5. Look I agree these type of charges are inappropriate but is everyone so cheap that they want to make a federal case out of a few dollars?

    Seriously people – you are getting the room for nothing so $5 isn’t going to break you

  6. If you need yet another reason to avoid Marriott, their iOS app has resumed the creepy practice of pasting the contents of your clipboard (should there be content) when the app opens. When I emailed them they claimed it was a setting I have control over, which is false.

  7. @AC they are lying, violating terms and conditions, and cheating their customers. At what level does it stop being OK to you? $25? $50? $200?

  8. Some time ago I think Marriott decided that if it was simply big enough it wouldn’t have to worry about its reputation. I truly think they don’t care about what customers think of the Marriott brand: they feel they have a large enough footprint and can’t be ignored or avoided. The public is just stuck with them.

  9. There’s a ton of petty theft going on in the travel industry, all of it disguised as some kind of “value added” fee or tax. If such value were added to, for example, an award night – wouldn’t you have the option or opt out? Of course not, because these fees are nothing more than shakedowns. An award night is supposed to be just that, an award night. Free (though earned from expenditures elsewhere).

    And don’t get me started on ‘resort fees’ which are about as virtuous as getting robbed in the hotel parking lot.

  10. Please call the Courtyard by Marriott Jefferson City at +1-573-761-1400. Add your comments to explain why Marriott hotel management thinks it is a good idea to deliberately bill misleading fees like a “Pace Energy Fee” to award guests.

  11. @AC “Look I agree these type of charges are inappropriate but is everyone so cheap that they want to make a federal case out of a few dollars?”

    That’s what folks said about resort fees back in the day when they were $10-$20 per night. Now they are $25-$50. Where do you draw the line?

    If this hotel started charging $15 or $25 per night instead of $5 for their debt service or whatever they refer to it as, would you still feel the same way? If you give an inch, they often take a mile.

    IMHO, folks should be appreciative when bloggers and the media hold companies accountable for garbage fees. If everyone just laid down and took it, then these fees would both increase and multiply and then, I suspect, folks would be up in arms about it Just my $0.02.

  12. Another hotel property owner cheating? Say it ain’t so.

    If you care about this issue, you’re still playing their game. If you’re still playing their game, you deserve what you get.

  13. Well, @AC, if $5 isn’t anything to make an issue about, you can send me $5 of your money any time you like. I’ll be happy to take it.

  14. Marriott corporate is a hot mess.
    The employees at every Marriott-linked property I have ever stayed at have been nothing but wonderful. But the bill is always a bit of a surprise. Almost like a CVS receipt with a long list of fees/taxes.
    Hyatt and Hilton are my go-to for reward nights, never any ancillary fees.

  15. I think Marriott from a technology perspective is such a mess this is how hotels get around this. I mean I’ve seen significant differences in price on the app to the website, for the same hotel and the same dates, and partially that is related to fees and taxes.

    I will say after some issues with some points transfer, the customer support people were super helpful, but maybe that’s because I’ve called the Titanium support line.

    Fundamentally, hotels are doing the same crap airlines have got away with for years. The most galling lately for me (besides amenity fee) is the early check-out fees or no shows and having to pay for the whole thing for an awards stay. This isn’t even a Marriott issue and I’ve heard some Hyatts doing this too. I don’t get how if I’m flying to a destination and there is an issue and I can’t arrive on time, they can CHARGE me MONEY on an award stay. That’s some serious BS.

  16. @ Gary — Marriott is run by slimebags of The Donald Trump variety. Whr would anyone do business with them?

  17. @DaveS – Nothing under $100 would get me to spend much of my time or energy dealing with it. Agree they are violating terms but if I spend 15 minutes disputing it that isn’t worth (at least to me) the $5 charge. My time is more valuable than that. I am pretty pragmatic and don’t tilt at windmills over principle.

  18. Marriott used to be the go-to brand for business travelers. Now it’s the preferred brand of suckers and the clueless.

  19. @ AC — The most expeditious approach seems to be demanding removal of the charge at checkout, while likely waiting for an uber anyway. Anything else isn’t worth your time

  20. The Courtyard by Marriott in Jefferson City, Missouri website says, “changes in taxes or fees implemented after booking will affect the total room price.” Accordingly, after booking, if this Marriott hotel wants to screw you by billing you more, they create new undisclosed fees such as a “$100 TV remote control COVID-19 sanitization fee per day” or “$50 green planet recycled toilet paper service per day.” So, if you stay five days, you own $500 to $750 more at checkout. Once Bonvoyed, Always Bonvoyed.

  21. Replying to AC’s comment posted 2/18 at 10:28 am.

    I don’t know if posting one story is a federal case, but the numbers do add up. That property has 121 rooms, so the maximum the $4.90 could annually generate is $216,408.50, Suddenly it isn’t peanuts. It could be that the owners arrived at $4.90 figuring no one indiviual is going to spend the effort fighting that.

    Reminds me of the bank employee caught rounding up credit card fees for a few cents per transaction. Again, mere peanuts but the end result funneled into the person’s account was in the millions.

  22. Marriott is too big to fail. This is why the Starwood Marriott merger should never have been allowed.

  23. @AOC $5 today, $10 tomorrow, $25 next month
    @AOC I don’t ask for free dinner with my free room because it doesn’t come with the award and the property shouldn’t be requesting extra cash from the customer when it’s not part of the T&C’s

    for the legal types on this thread; Is this something that you can say you won’t pay and get away with it or better yet, file a claim with the CC company as a dispute and win that dispute?

    it continues to be us against them in the travel industry

  24. @rufus9: File a complaint with the consumer protection office in your state; typically it’s within the attorney general’s department.

  25. If it wasn’t for sites like this, they could get away with doing this kind of stuff, getting comfortable and adding more and more.
    I hope corporate recognizes the value of travel reporters to keep those rogue properties on check.

  26. @ Wills — The inflation caused by Trump? Check the numbers.
    Who is the moron who pressed for negative interest rates and massive checks for everyone? Donald J. TRUMP.

  27. @gary check out the AC Hotel downtown NYC. Booked an award stay for two nights in April at 25K points per night and they tacked on an estimated $7 in taxes. No explanation of what is it for. I’ve reached out to Bonvoy assist on twitter for help.

  28. @Gary if you actually read more into this energy charge and did your research properly, you would know it’s a pass through tax, just like your state, city and county taxes. You may just be better off not traveling and staying at home, it will save you a few bucks.

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