Thousands Of Hotels Asked Guests For Donations, While Some Charged Resort Fees And Provided No Service

The Motif Hotel in downtown Seattle, part of Hyatt’s Destination Hotels brand, was called out on social media this week for soliciting guests for donations. These aren’t tax-deductible charitable donations, or extra tips for laid off workers. This was just extra money for the hotel owners, an investment group in Hong Kong, to be added to a guest’s bill.

Hyatt said it is not their “practice to encourage contributions from guests to support hotel properties in this manner. As soon as we were made aware of the situation, we immediately investigated with the hotel and its IT provider, and the message was removed from guestroom TVs immediately.”

However it turns out not to be driven by Hyatt, or the individual property. Instead tech provider Sonifi, which handles hotel room video and wifi for thousands of hotels, was doing this through in-room TV at this property and others across their system since April. They had long ago removed the message from in-room televisions, but not at the Motif Seattle hotel.

Credit: Motif Seattle

Like many hotels, there’s no daily housekeeping and the property’s restaurant was closed but they were still charging him a resort fee (or, because it’s a city hotel and not a resort, a ‘destination fee’). According to the hotel’s website, despite charging an amenity fee, there’s no room service or fitness center access either.

After being called out, the hotel is no longer asking guests to donate extra money to its owners, but it’s still charging a resort fee without delivering any amenities so that is kind of the same really.

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. […] Treating hotels – full service hotels – as a purely functional tool to facilitate being somewhere contributes to making travel just not fun. While I understand the desire to cut costs in a low revenue environment, these are relatively small costs that alter the value proposition of the stay for the guest. And that doesn’t begin to get into how offensive it is to charge resort fees when no amenities are available. […]


  1. Hyatt is sinking to the bottom fast. They need to manager and oversee hotel more and better. Shame on hyatt

  2. Gary, thanks for the information that the Motif Hotel in downtown Seattle is run by ungrateful perfidious scoundrels when they solicit guests for donations. When these hotel employees are not plundering money from guests, I wonder if they are panhandling for bonus cash from stopped traffic at busy intersections.

  3. You should screen this from the booking page on Hyatt dot com.

    “CURRENTLY CLOSED – Bar Service, Fitness Center; LIMITED SERVICES – Food Services. For inquiries, please contact the hotel directly. DESTINATION FEE: A daily destination fee of $20 USD Plus Tax, per room, per night (subject to change) will be added to your rate. Click here to view inclusions.”

  4. Does anyone actually think hotels will return amenities and services? They’re going to skip daily housekeeping and everything else for as long as they can realistically claim “coronavirus” reductions.

  5. Hyatt has always been overpriced garbage that has done very well selling an image and in the process getting some very loyal brainwashed followers that believe Hyatt is worth the money.

    No surprise.

  6. Please people, don’t stay at hotels with destination fees. The Renaissance Las Vegas started charging this fee a few years ago and now I stay at other properties who don’t charge it. If we all stop staying at these properties, they will rethink charging this greedy fee.

  7. I haven’t travelled for quite some time, so I have a lot of catching up to do in “travel education”. Things are tight for everyone with this coronavirus pandemic, but surely some of these things hotels are doing seem rather negative and it will reflect poorly on them in the future.

  8. I, along with millions of others, am already generously committed to making prepaid donations to a variety of hotels, airlines, and other businesses in the form of higher tax bills in coming years to pay off the trillions of dollars of cascading rounds of stimulus checks. Since those higher tax bills will translate to lower retirement savings, that means I’ll probably have to work longer before I can even think about retiring (if ever). So, in a very real sense, “I gave at the office.”

    If that’s what it takes to rescue the economy, so be it, but I am not prepare to subsidize even further a corporation that is already receiving far more government funds than I ever will if I live to be 100.

  9. Why would anyone be visiting Seattle these days? I thought it was on the travel ban list, along with Somalia, Portland and other failed states.

  10. I’m a Globalist and I stayed at the Motif in Seattle earlier this year before Coronavirus. The Motif was by far the worst Hyatt I have ever stayed in. Ironically, Hyatt didn’t send me a survey to review the stay. I really hope Hyatt corporate drops this hotel as it is unlike any other Hyatt and just gives it a bad name.

  11. Everyone should avoid properties that charge “resort” or “destination” (or whatever new name they dream up) fees. If you can’t, be sure to give them the lowest possible rating on the various review sites like TripAdvisor.

    I always speak with the front desk at checkout and ask them to remove the fee, although no hotel will do that any longer in my experience.

    I title my review BOGUS RESORT FEE and explain why I only gave 1 star, although I will also note what I liked and disliked about the hotel as well.

    This additional fee business is spreading like a cancer throughout the industry, and since the politicians don’t seem to want to do anything about it, we should all fight back every way we can.

  12. I wish Orbitz/Kayak/Travelocity/etc. would offer an “amenities offered” section with a box that says “No resort fees or silly charges”. I avoid hotels that charge a resort fee, on principle, whenever possible.

  13. it will be great if hotels in the US can publish rates that already include taxes and fees. Like what they did in Europe so it is easy to do a cost comparison.
    In Europe the room rate that you see is the final numbers that you need to pay, Already includes all taxes and fees.
    For me a customer, I don’t really care what fees they charged as long as the final number shown is the price I paid. This way I can know right away which hotel is cost-effective and really deliver on their services.

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