You Could Be Charged $2,800+ Per Night If You Cancel A Points Stay

Filed Under: Hotels, Marriott

Earlier I wrote about the outrageous situation someone was facing at the St. Regis Aspen. To briefly summarize, a person booked a five night stay for two rooms using points. Their flight to Aspen was canceled (as is quite common due to weather), so they ended up arriving at the hotel one day late.

As it turns out, this hotel has a mostly undisclosed policy of charging $1,000 per night if you no-show for an award booking. I have a lot of problems with this policy. One detail I didn’t get right earlier is that what essentially happens is that you’re refunded the points for that night, and are instead charged cash.

There are many reasons I take issue with this policy:

  • If you pay for your stay in points, why does a hotel have a policy that you get charged in cash if you no show? Isn’t keeping the points you redeemed (your full form of payment) sufficient?
  • It’s one thing if that were clearly disclosed, but the problem is that it’s not
  • During the booking process it doesn’t clarify that this will happen, but rather in a personalized follow-up email they disclose this
  • In this particular situation it wasn’t even that someone canceled their trip, but rather their flight just got canceled, so they got there late
  • When they contacted the hotel to tell them they’d be arriving late, this outrageous fee also wasn’t disclosed

Well, as it turns out, this is more of a widespread policy than I thought. Several readers pointed out that the St. Regis Deer Valley has a similar policy. Let me once again emphasize that what happens is that you’re essentially charged the cash rate for the night, and are refunded the points.

On the plus side, at least the St. Regis Deer Valley discloses this during the booking process, as it says the following:

You may cancel your reservation for no charge until 6:00 PM hotel time on December 6, 2019. Please note that we will assess a fee if you must cancel after this deadline. If you have made a prepayment, we will retain all or part of your prepayment. If not, we will charge your credit card.

While I still wouldn’t call that completely clear, it is a much higher level of disclosure than the St. Regis Aspen provides, as they only state:

You may cancel your reservation for no charge until December 3, 2019 (60 day[s] before arrival).

If you thought charging $1,000 per night for a no show was a lot, it gets much worse than that. A reader shares how after confirming his booking at the St. Regis Deer Valley, he received the following email:

Please note that in case you need to cancel you do have a 90 day cancellation policy to cancel without penalty. Should you need to cancel after the deadline, there would be a penalty of Full amount room and tax $2,500 per night plus tax (13.42%) which will be charged on the credit card on file and the points will be returned to your account. Trip insurance is highly recommended.

In other words, in the event that your flight got canceled and you arrived at the hotel one day late, you’d be on the line for $2,835.50.

If you ended up getting sick one day before your five day stay, had a death in the family, or decided 89 days before arrival that you had another commitment, you’d be on the hook for $14,177.50. That’s crazy.

Bottom line

My single biggest issue here is the lack of proper disclosure. In the case of the St. Regis Deer Valley, at least they’re telling you during the booking process you’ll be on the hook for some amount of cash if you show up late. The St. Regis Aspen doesn’t do that.

At least if we have the full information we can decide where to take our business.

However, beyond that, I find the concept of charging cash in lieu of points if you no show for a booking to be outrageous. How on earth can they justify this policy? Could you imagine if airlines did this for award tickets? Delta makes you cancel award tickets 72 hours in advance, so could you imagine that if you no showed for a flight (or were running late), you’d have to pay the full fare cost of a ticket?

I guess the next time I go to an expensive resort with a cancelation policy like this I just need to fly in the day before and stay somewhere else, lest I be charged thousands of dollars for showing up late for reasons outside my control.

To me this completely changes the value proposition of award bookings at some properties. People often like to earn points so they can book aspirational experiences they could never pay with cash. So to deal with problems outside your control (like a canceled flight, illness, etc.) and be faced with a $14K+ bill is just outrageous.

Buyer beware… check those confirmation policies when you book, and in the case of the St. Regis Aspen check all follow-up emails as well, because this isn’t properly disclosed.

If you take issue with this policy I’d recommend voicing your dissatisfaction with the loyalty program, because it changes the value of the programs, in my opinion.

In the past I haven’t been nervous about redeeming points. I figure worst case scenario I’ll forfeit the points, and while that sucks, it pales in comparison to being in a situation where you’re having to pay $14K+ in cash for a stay you’re not making.

Comments
  1. What gets me is how they are recommending one get travel insurance. I highly doubt any trip insurance policy would pay a 14k penalty regardless of how legit your cancelation reason is.

  2. Yep, I got a similar email from a “Reservations Agent” at St. Regis Deer Valley.

    But I didn’t realize it also applied to no-shows (if I’m willing to forego the points)…that’s wild.

  3. @ lucky totally agree with you on this. Just a recommendation if you do have to cancel (or arrive late) is to call a hotel reservation agent (and hang up and call again later if you find an uncooperative agent) to explain the situation, propose an alternative (like change date of arrival). Typically i have managed to have cancellation fee waived. Never possible with binvoy directly. Obviously not a guarantee

  4. In the event of weather disruption, illness or other emergencies, wouldn’t you be covered if you used a Sapphire card (or other card with travel insurance) to hold the room?

    Taking a step back, onerous deposit and cancellation policies (whether booking with cash or points) have been a feature of high end hotels in ski areas for decades…

  5. ” I’d recommend voicing your dissatisfaction with the loyalty program”

    It’d be good if you did more of this yourself too. Reach out to them for a comment. Perhaps linking them to your articles asking for a comment and outlining your reach might encourage a company to change its policies more than an individual person without a points blog.

  6. @ Anthony — I don’t believe so, because if you’re exclusively using points from another loyalty program you’re not paying cash, and therefore wouldn’t be covered. You have to pay for at least part of your stay with a credit card to get benefits. At least that’s my understanding.

    I don’t take issue with a 60-90 day cancelation policy — I get that’s a thing — I just don’t understand the concept of charging in a different “currency” than what you reserved in.

  7. It’s ridiculous the loyalty program won’t compensate them for a no show when the customer is losing the points. I realize the guest won’t be there to spend, but in effect they have fully paid for the room.

  8. @ Anthony Thomas — I can promise you I voice my feedback loud and clear, both on the blog and behind the scenes.

  9. How about workaround this non-sense and book/guarantee these points stays with a prepaid credit card? Any idea on what card value card would qualify? $10, $50, $100, $200? This would only work if your stay is only one day or you don’t show up at all (not one day late) and forfeit all your points.

  10. @ trey — I mean, I guess that’s one “workaround,” but in theory you’d still be on the hook for the cash, so they could come after you in other ways.

  11. Dispute the charges with the credit card, or cancel the “card on the file”. Doubt these charges could ever hold up.

  12. I have used a defunct credit card on points reservations for exactly this reason. They don’t charge the card prior to the date of arrival, so there’s no risk.

  13. What an absurd business practice. Any idea what would happen if one were to, say, open a burner no-annual-fee credit card and request an absurdly low credit limit (~$100) to use for all Marriot award bookings?

  14. @ Dave — It probably comes down to the individual hotel. I imagine they could try to still request the payment from you, so it depends whether you want to go down that road or not.

  15. So another issue is why can’t they check you in over the phone, understanding your flight got cancelled? You’ve prepaid for the room with points essentially – should it not be mine to use or not physically? Especially with a card on file already.

  16. What a contrast from car rental companies – they ask for flight details and if the flight is delayed they usually hang around later, even if after closing hours, because they understand that delays happen and you are still dependent on them.

  17. Think you’ll find this practise is more common than first thought (particularly at peak periods). I believe the Park Hyatt Maldives and St Regis Maldives both do something similar – open to correction on it though.

  18. So if something was to happen where I can’t get to the hotel, I should call up my old friend from college, pay for him to fly to the resort (even in First Class), and also pay for his food, transportation, etc and it would still be cheaper than the hotel fee.

  19. Response to FF

    ***What gets me is how they are recommending one get travel insurance. I highly doubt any trip insurance policy would pay a 14k penalty regardless of how legit your cancelation reason is.***

    A standard travel insurance policy includes coverage for trip delay (you’ll have to read the policy’s fine print to get a precise definition), but if you arrive one day late due to the cancellation of your scheduled flight on a common carrier, the insurance will pay up to the limits of the policy for each covered individual.

    If you (a) cancel an entire $14,000 hotel stay within the cancellation deadline, you’ve previously (b) purchased $14,000 in trip cancellation insurance, and you (c) cancel for a Covered Reason (typically a medical situation that prevents you from flying, and your doctor attests to this), the policy will reimburse the $14,000 up to that amount. You’ll have to document the charge to your card.

  20. If you booked with “pay at check in” than sure, having a no-show fee makes sense. But thats not whats going on. And no one is demanding that the points be refunded either.

    The worst part is that the gentleman from the other story checked in during his original first night (ie, before 4pm when the next cycle starts). So now the question is, at what point are you a no show?

    11pm?

    1am?

    3am?

    Thats not disclosed anywhere. When you travel a lot, its pretty standard to arrive at odd hours – thats why full service hotels have a 24/7 check in desk!

  21. Seems to be a ski destination thing. Yes?

    From their perspective I imagine they are protecting themselves in the case of conditions not being good due to a poor snow year…thus people canceling or no-showing. Which happens a lot.

    I mean, really, as if anyone pays $2500 a night at St Regis Deer Valley for a standard room. Do they think people are stupid? And the cancellation penalty should be in the currency they were accepting (forfeit points) or the room rate per night if doing a revenue stay. I mean, wtf, if they had a paid reservation for $700 a night (which would be a more typical winter ski resort nightly rate) are they going to charge you $2500 a night to cancel it? Of course not. This is the most absurd thing I have ever seen. And we have been seeing some absurd at Bonvoy. I have a feeling this would not hold up if legally challenged, even with a “disclosure.”

  22. hotel marks you as no show = hotel doesn’t get reimbursed from Bonvoy as the no show caused them to go below the expected occupancy to get paid full $$ from Bonvoy or Bonvoy just dont pay on no-show at all

    thus $$ due to hotel they don’t care from whom – in this case they seek the damages from the customer .

  23. In worst case scenario, you can always cancel the card you guaranteed the room with before you no show. Are they really going to sue you for the money. They might not even to be able depending on what Colorado law says re liquiditated damages.

    Alternatively could you use a prepaid card to reserve the room? I have no idea if they allow this but if so that would be a good way to cap damages.

  24. Sounds like it’s time to get the States Attorneys General involved in the deceptive policies enforced by these resorts.

  25. This is where laws should be made to protect the consumers.

    If you are a no show for a Hotel, Flight, Cruise, ect. You should have to forfeit the money spent on the room, flight, ect. You should only be subject to a penalty if you cancel and there is some form of refund. In the end you should NEVER be forced into paying more than what you booked.

    I don’t care about the companies loosing on other possible spending. If I am at a hotel, or on a flight it’s completely plausible that i would not spend any additional money there. More so, these companies are basically getting free money. You don’t have to spend on room cleanup, electricity, power, ect. Airlines don;t have to pay extra in fuel.

    With this, overbooking should be illegal as well. Once again, if you offer a partial refund on a cancellation then it’s that companies loss if they can’t find another customer to fill that spot. Otherwise, they just need to make cancellations unavailable within x days.

    The leisure industry is filled with these BS “fees”. More and more have become mandatory and are often not clear during booking or even at check in. When a room, flight, ect is booked no matter where or how it is booked, you as the consumer should be entitled to use it without any additional charges unless you are using an extra service. Want to charge to use the pool, gym, ect. then not only should it be disclosed as not included but it should be up to the hotel to restrict it’s use through access cards, wristbands, ect. It should also be required for booking sites to either include or offer these additional fees when booking through them. Finally any lack of reasonably expected amenities that may be an additional fee need to be disclosed clearly. It’s one thing to not disclose the fee for a spa, or beach rental but what if you hotel charges extra for the A/C or even electricity? I have heard of this happening. At least with airlines they have become much more transparent in terms of included baggage, seat assignments, ect. Most of us now understand or can easily find answers to whats included in our ticket price.

    I find it outrageous that companies are able to get away with things like this. Where is the consumer protection against being taken advantage of? As consumers we keep on accepting more and more abuse and greedy companies continue exploit any little opportunity they can. A la carte pricing is often a good thing. It keeps costs down for consumers who are not interested in certain products or services – so long as these cost options are transparent and not buried in small print. Until things change, the best we can hope for is to hurt exploitative companies where it matters, on their balance sheets by not using them.

  26. I was trying to make a reservation for the Buenaventura hotel in Panama during new years. The room costs $500 or 35000 points, so I decided to reserve for 5 nights at 140000 points. Before I could enter OK, a message popped out (and you have to click and accept the cancellation policy).
    __________________________
    Hotel Cancellation Policy
    About this reservation:
    You may cancel your reservation for no charge until March 16, 2019. Please note that we will assess a fee if you must cancel after this deadline. If you have made a prepayment, we will retain all or part of your prepayment. If not, we will charge your credit card. This fee equals your room charge plus tax for all the nights of your reservation.

    LEARN MORE

    I have read the rate details and accept the cancellation policy

    140,000 points for 5 night will be deducted from your Rewards account.
    ___________________________________________________________________________

    So basically, you have 24 hours to cancel for a reservation that is 9 months in advance, and also would be charged $2500 if you do.
    I called Marriott and they told me that that was the correct policy and the charge would be $2500 if it was canceled.

  27. What’s crazy is this is a winter destination where its reasonable to expect flight disruptions due to the weather both at SLC as well as places like Chicago and NYC where many people are coming from. Are they really going to charge $14k if there is a blizzard in NYC and there is literally no way for me to get there (on time or at all)? i get losing the points but $14k?

    If SLC is closed due to weather are the going to charge every guest due to arrive that day? If so I would love to be in the lobby to witness that….

  28. Would have gotten a Marriott card, had Chase not made me persona non grata due to having opened more than 4 ccs in the past 24 months. Now happy to not have any Marriott points to worry about using. Makes boycotting Marriott easy peasy.

    And even happier with my AMEX HH Ascend card, that makes me HH Gold, and gives me free weekend nights anywhere with a reasonable level of spend. Along with free (otherwise 25 Euros pp) full breakfasts in Europe on all of my 5th night free Award stays.

    Bonvoy Marriott, bonvoy…….. 😉

  29. Points Booking Tip –
    ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS secure the reservation with either a Visa/MC gift card with a limited balance or a Virtual Card offered by many banks with a spending limit. Most hotel reservation systems do not actually validate the actual ability to charge the card…just that the number is valid.

  30. This was mentioned in my reservation already when I booked it way back in August. This was not recently implemented afaik.

  31. Maybe just use the Bonvoy points for flights. Was planning to use points to stay in Istanbul but after hearing this it is scary. Is this based on Category? The higher the Category , the higher the payment. Sorry if I missed reading it in the post.

  32. Not sure if you noticed but I was trying to both St. Regis Maldives and in addition to taking points, they wanted a couple thousand dollars in fees… defeats the entire point of a redemption!

  33. “Trip insurance is highly recommended” is their way of saying they know their policy is insane, but too bad. Obviously a predatory attempt at a cash grab, since even the rooms themselves don’t go for nearly that rate per night. If anyone has been burned by the St. Regis Deer Valley, the agency to file a complaint with is the Utah Attorney General – here is the link: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/contact/complaint-form/

  34. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants -Justice Louis Brandeis.

    Lucky- Keep shining light on these absurd business practices.

  35. @Brian – I once had to cancel a card “on file” in the middle of a trip prior to arrival at a hotel because it was stolen a week earlier in the trip. I thought since I had backup and paid with points there would be no problem when I arrived but unbeknownst to me, they had run the canceled card a week earlier to make sure it was still valid and when it wasn’t, they canceled my room and took my points. No email or text or phone call to alert me that there was an issue. I now avoid hotels with weasel-worded or otherwise crazy cancellation policies as they will probably be the ones who screw you over, if it’s to their advantage. I was, however, able to eventually recover my points but it was a huge hassle.

  36. @Lucky : loyalty program is NOT the correct venue to report this problem. This is not “oopsy, we made a mistake that impact your experience” kind of things. This is “let’s try to **** those losers who dare do something we dislike” behaviors. As such, I suggest the following venue:

    * BBB
    * ftc.gov/complaint
    * Court. Seriously. They should have at least have a notice during booking time. If not, someone should sue them. The court should impose some serious fine to deter this kind of business practice.

  37. One good option is to book the first night a paid night and the subsequent nights award nights. The hotel loyalty programs do have odd cancellation policies for some locations but not all locations. I don’t think the penalties will work well for the hotel in the long run due to the hardship for the customer. Not ideal when the most knowledgeable travelers cannot determine the consequences of a no-show in advance. Flexibility is required for all aspects of travel. Irregular operations are not limited to airlines.

  38. My recommendation…write a nice letter to the Colorado AG’s office and a follow-up to the media…bad policy begets bad PR….

  39. They should neber be allowed to charge more for a no show than the original full rate of the reservation. As a guest you enter into a contract with them. If you hold up your end by paying in full, why on earth would it be justified to charge more??
    It should be illegal to do that. Fraud.

  40. Wow – I wonder what marketing genius at Marriott came up with policy? What a huge disincentive to book ANYTHING with Marriott. As someone who manages corporate travel for their business, this policy has inspired me to contact Hyatt and Hilton and see what they can offer our corporate travelers if we switch company spend to their chain(s). The stupidity of this policy along with other recent Bonvoy changes make it an easy call.

  41. Wouldn’t one workaround be to cancel the credit card on file for the reservation before you cancel?

    Call and cancel the card and hang up, call Marriott, and cancel the reservation.

    Good luck with Marriott getting thousand of dollars for cancelling an award stay.

    I would also think that this would be something that the CFPB should look into, but that will have to wait until the USA has a president again.

  42. I don’t think travel insurance will cover this kind of charge because of subtle nuance that could potentially be exploited by an internal investigator – if I understand correctly, the cost of your initial purchase is being refunded and instead you are being charged a separate fee.

    This sort of practice to me is a signal by hotel management to Marriott corporate that the reimbursement amount received isn’t “close enough” to their cash rate assumptions.

  43. @brteacher and anyone booking with an expired/low-limit credit card – Watch out if you’re staying at a Hyatt.

    Nearly all of my Hyatt stays had at least a one day deposit charged in advance before the check-in date. Several Hyatts charged the entire stay in full prior to arrival. One Front Desk manager said that this was how Hyatt is handling reservations from what they could determine.

    So the days of reserving with one CC and charging onto another are gone. I’ve lost a chunk of Hyatt points so far this year because the wrong CC was billed.

  44. If we stand for stuff like this then the whole points and miles game will be quickly devalued across the board to where there’s really no point. I’m not making any future Bonvoy reservations and I’m canceling the cards

  45. This is nothing new with regards to high-demand resorts in peak season. St. Regis Punta Mita had a similar policy even pre-merger between Christmas and New Years.

    Saying that a hotel should only take points back on a cancellation represents a complete lack of understanding for how loyalty / points programs work. The potential cost to a hotel, if a no-show or cancelled points reservation drops occupancy below a threshold level, is effectively the average daily rate for those nights. Taking your points does nothing for the hotel owner in that case, not to mention the lost ancillary revenue from spa, F&B, activities, etc.

    This is a good move for Marriott hotel owners and ultimately shareholders as it will keep / increase the number of premium hotels generating fees for the system. The restrictions will self-correct if market forces dictate. Kind of how cancellation policies went from predominantly 1 day prior in 2009-2011 to 3 days prior now. In the next economic cycle downturn, you’ll have better luck getting luxury redemptions with less restrictions.

  46. While it’s great what Lucky does in being an ombudsman to the frequent travel world, as well as giving us amazing tips, there is more that can be done. By all of us.

    There is nothing hotels and high profile travel firms hate more than calling them out on social media. Go comment on their Facebook pages (I did so on the St Regis Deer Valley), tweet it, hell… Instagram that sh#$t. Whatever it takes.

    I am not saying to do this for any little thing. But Marriott has had enough of a ride in getting away with rogue properties that make their own rules. They try and fight back with footprint. We need to fight back with awareness.

    Bitching here will accomplish nothing. The optics outside of here will create change.

  47. I can at least understand the reasoning if you booked a hotel and then cancelled last minute because the hotel can no longer book that room and lose money.

    But if it’s already booked and you arrive 1 day late well you still spent those points (money) for that stay which you still intend to do. In fact, its better for the hotel to not have to provide you with service that first day so they should be thanking you.

    If I had mobile check in, would I be able to check in remotely to bypass nonsense like this?

  48. @Lucky — I booked a stay using points at St. Regis Deer Valley for this December, and received a follow-up e-mail a few days ago stating a 7-day cancellation policy. Is this unusual? (Others have reported 60/90-day cancellation policies there.)

  49. Absolutely ridiculous . If you are late by one day due to no fault of your own, then how does a hotel justify this charge? The hotel has not lost money (if it simply retains the points) and ,if anything, it saves on one day of house cleaning. Pure bastardry.

  50. I’ve been looking at both StR Aspen and DeerPark for a few weekends coming up but definitely not now, this is insane. If you book with points i totally get them not refunding the points for a no-show/late cancellation but charging cash (let alone $1K+?) . On top of all of this the non-disclosure pre-booking is unconscionable.

    They’re not getting my business with cash or points. Will save the points for somewhere I dont risk getting FLEECED! I really hope someone takes this up with either the state regulators or if need be a lawsuit.

  51. @Billy
    The fees added to a point booking at St Regis Maldives is the seaplane fare from Malé to the resort. That is flight provided by Trans Maldivian Airlines, and will not be covered by points, or earn you point.

    That being said, the St R Maldives has a cancellation policy similar to what’s being discussed here. It is not something new, but the two cases that has emerged from the US properties seems to have been handled absurdly badly by the hotels.

  52. This is standard policy for all hotel award bookings: Bonvoy/Hilton/IHG.

    You noshow, you pay. I was sweating this when I booked a pointsbreak at the Intercon, so I arrived a day early. Otherwise instead of my 5000 point stay, it would have been $250 out of pocket.

    Pretty crazy, and as Lucky said, can you imagine if an airline charged you full rate if you missed your frequent flyer ticket?

    Per Flyertalk, the rule probably exists because hotels (which are normally franchises) were abusing points bookings to get money from the Parent company.

    Where’s the class-action suit?!

  53. @Blaz
    I fully agree with your point, however…
    The $$ panelty reflects the potential loss to the hotel from you not paying for meals, drinks, services etc during your stay.
    As I said, I think that’s outrageous. I also think it would be a difficult policy to defend in a legal dispute.

  54. The problem with trying any scenario to use a low limit or pre-paid card for the reservation is that they would likely move to have one removed from that loyalty program at a minimum. I think some of the high end resorts are doing this to ensure games aren’t played with reservations with points “millionaires”. Their obligated to offer rooms for reward redemptions that they could get for a higher cash value (plus as Mike said above the onsite purchases) and just guessing is that they don’t want to get hosed by a points cancellation. Illness, flight delays and family emergencies are legit and not people playing games.

  55. These policies are insane, thank you for putting the spotlight on it!
    Clearly, these hotels don’t really want people staying on points and use these unsavory policies. If they don’t want to be part of a chain, just unflag. Don’t take the benefits of being part of a big brand, and skirt your responsibilities of it…
    @Lucky, do they only disclose the fee via email, even if you book inside the cancellation period? That seems fraudulent as you would be locked in without knowing…

  56. I have been delayed in arriving because of cancelled flights and Hilton has been very understanding and have not charged the first night even though entitled to do so. I was able to email the hotel directly luckily.

    I would hope that a resort would not cancel a reservation if you contacted them when the flight was first cancelled.

    I do believe that they should only charge points for a missed night at a resort.

    But for some instant profit is the goal, not loyalty.

    BonVoy

  57. I would like to know where I could buy insurance to cover me. I would want coverage that would include illness to myself , my spouse, my minor children, my mother — and I would imagine this is asking too much (but I have responsibilities ) to my siblings — is that at all possible ? Of course i would also want coverage for misconnects and rescheduled flights.

    As for credit cards with low limits or debit card with the same, this is only a partial solution. One would owe money to the property. If one does not pay a bill at any property, Marriott can and likely would cancel ones bonvoy membership as well as all of ones points and perhaps future reservations. The property could send the bill to collections or sue you. Ones credit could be ruined.

    Marriott, is there anyone at Marriott anymore , or have all the lights been turned out. Maximum loss for the customer should be the points, and not some penalty. Marriott? This is not an IT Problem, a staffing problem, a training problem, it is an integrity problem.

    Anyone at Marriott?

  58. I’m with Peter Eveland here (write to the Attorney General, coupled with a host of bad PR). While most of us individually have limited power, you, Lucky have a platform. And once their bottom line starts getting affected they will listen to us.

    Regarding the reason for imposing this no show / cancellation charge, I wonder if it’s because the individuals/families who frequent these high end hotels are also likely to spend lots of money while there (meals, renting equipment, etc, transport). This is even more the case in rural areas where alternate options aren’t plenty. These ancillary fees would be lost if a person no showed.
    For the record, absolutely not justifying this policy- just trying to differentiate it practically from a no-show situation on an airline.

  59. @lucky:
    (sorry if I missed this earlier): have you contacted Marriott and what do they say about this?

  60. I’VE JUST BOOKED A TWO NIGHT STAY AT THE END OF APRIL USING POINTS AT THE RITZ CARLTON NAPLES FLORIDA.
    TODAY I RECEIVED AN E-MAIL FROM THE MANAGER, TYLER TUCKER STATING IF I CANCELLED LESS THAN 14 DAYS PRIOR TO ARRIVAL I WILL BE CHARGED $8OO A NIGHT, A TOTAL OF $1,600!
    UNBELIEVABLE, WHY NOT JUST A FORFEIT OF THE POINTS?

  61. Here’s a different way to handle the credit card for on file “for incidentals” and massive over-chargebacks:

    BankofAmerica’s VISA cards, the “Cash Rewards” card in particular, but this may also apply to other BofA VISA flavors, support what they call “ShopSafe” and I’ll call the “virtual credit card” feature. Using the BofA website with your “ShopSafe-enabled” VISA card, you can create an entirely new VISA card number, complete with its own separate exipration date, CREDIT LIMIT, and CVV code number. While this ShopSafe “card” can’t be used for in-person “Card Present” transactions, it is designed to be used when ordering items via the web. So, create one of these “virtual cards” to be used when making one of these potentially problematic reservations. Give it a $500 limit and set it to expire 3 months after your proposed arrival date. The hotel will not be able to post a transaction larger than your defined credit limit to the card. the only potential drawback to the ShopSafe feature is that BofA supports it only via web browsers and I don’t think it works with Safari on Apple OS’s. It requires FLASH to generate the virtual card. This is fine if you’re a Windows user, but not MacOS or “Mobile” (anything.) So, if you make a reservation using one of these ShopSafe card numbers, simply check-in with a different (physical) card when you arrive.

  62. To be clear, the fee must be disclosed while the reservation may still be cancelled without penalty (and I imagine these emails are legally sufficient). As such, I doubt a credit card dispute would go anywhere. As noxious as the policy may be, if the specific amount of the penalty is clearly stated, they can charge it. The better question is why a business would choose to impose such a penalty when trying to encourage “loyalty.” I think this is what Lucky is getting at.

  63. I know the good ole SPG had a policy that the hotel will charge for no show on a points booking but you could email/call and authorize them to use the points and get back the cash.

    Maybe that policy died with SPG!!

  64. Someone said above that this is the case with IHG and Hilton too – would the hotel need to disclose the exact amount? I booked the Kimpton Seafire in Cayman Islands by Christmas with IHG free Chase nights/ IHG points on separate 1 night reservations, and each one must be canceled 90 days or more before, but it says “Cancellation Policy: A deposit of 1 night is due at time of booking. Canceling your reservation before 6:00 PM (local hotel time) on xxxxx (90 days before) will result in no charge. Canceling your reservation after 6:00 PM (local hotel time) on xxxxx (90 days before), or failing to arrive will result in forfeiture of your deposit. Taxes may apply. Failing to call or show before check-out time after the first night of a reservation will result in cancellation of the remainder of your reservation.” My deposit was my free night or points (no actual charge), so assuming that is all I would lose. However, it does say that they charge an early departure fee of $1,500, which seems ridiculous. Rates at this time are $1,400+ per night, so want to make sure it’s not the same as Marriott, because I wouldn’t be able to deal with the stress of knowing I could be out that much per night if someone got sick or our flight was delayed/canceled. Anyone know?

  65. Aren’t there any lawyers on this blog willing to opine on this? It seems like there are some pretty clear issues of state contract law–this isn’t the same as the airlines.

    Do the words “bad faith” have any implication here when you have undisclosed or outrageous charges?

  66. Just checked out of the Renaissance Santiago, where they tried to charge me a $170 no show charge for my first night of a 7 night (old Marriott hotel & miles package) redemption. I deliberately booked it for the day before since I had a flight arriving at 7 am, which I emailed them about to confirm. The front desk agent argued with me for 15 minutes, and they also took 100,000 points from my account.

  67. Add an accompany name and have anyone you know check in on day of arrival. Than you can just pick up additional keys whenever you arrive. Accompany name doesn’t have to stay. Just humble opinion

  68. Did anyone find a credit card or travel cancellation policy that would cover this event, as suggested by the St. Regis welcome email? Here’s what was included in the email I received from St. Regis Aspen (booked Feb 2019 for Jan 2020 three night award stay):

    “We would also like to bring to your attention that a 60-day cancellation policy is in effect for the dates of your reservation. If changes are required within 60 days of your arrival date, cancellation penalties and additional fees may apply. Due to our remote resort destination we strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance. Please note that a monetary fee will be assessed in the event of a cancelation (sic) within 60 days prior to arrival in the amount of $3,000.”

    The cancellation policy on my booking (on marriott.com) is as follows: “Redemption, non-refundable if cancelled less than 60 days before arrival, eCertificate required prior to check in…You may cancel your reservation for no charge until November 18, 2019 (60 day[s] before arrival).”

    I find it funny that nowhere is it mentioned that they will keep your points AND assess a $3k fee, unless you’re supposed to combine with the email and cancellation policy?

    As far as those suggesting to use a dummy card, wouldn’t this result in your reservation getting cancelled just before you stay (rate details for my reservation state “We will need a credit card number to reserve your room 60 days before your expected arrival”)? Seems like a bad gamble.

  69. The St. Regis is charging rates like it’s a luxury property, but this just shows that they’re anything but. Nice room & nice furnishings will only get you so far. Good customer service is what distinguishes a great hotel from an average one.

    /I’ll be adding these two properties to my AVOID list. Thanks for the heads up!

  70. Hyatt always sent express check in email in advance so you can check in online before you get to the hotel. Does this solve the problem of late arrival?

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