Grand Hyatt Washington DC Adds Destination Fee

Filed Under: Hotels, Hyatt

Unfortunately at this point I don’t think a hotel adding a destination fee is generally newsworthy anymore, because it’s becoming so common.

The reason I’m writing about it this time is because the Grand Hyatt Washington DC has added a destination fee, and as far as I know this is a fairly new trend for Washington. We’ve seen these added in New York and Los Angeles, for example, but as far as I know, not many hotels in DC have these fees.

The basics of destination fees

Destination fees are additional fees when you’re booking a hotel that often aren’t disclosed in a transparent way. These are “junk fees” similar to airline fuel surcharges.

Why do hotels have destination fees?

  • They’re a way for hotels to try and get more revenue without increasing the “transparent” room rate
  • It works out better for the hotel than an increase in the room rate, since historically they don’t have to pay travel agents a commission on the resort fee (though some online travel agencies are changing that)
  • In some areas it also allows them to skirt the typical occupancy tax that otherwise applies on the room rate

These initially started as fees at resorts, but things have gotten much worse, as we’ve now seen these fees largely spread to city hotels as well.

The problem is that once several hotels in a market introduce these fees, they seem to spread really quickly. That’s because on first glance a hotel with a destination fee would appear to be more reasonably priced, so consumers may gravitate towards hotels with lower base rates.

The Grand Hyatt Washington DC’s new destination fee

The Grand Hyatt Washington DC is adding a destination fee as of June 1, 2019 (waived for Globalist members). First of all I have to give the hotel credit in two ways:

  • They’re at least providing some advance notice of the implementation date (even if it’s just a couple of days, rather than the zero advance notice we usually see)
  • They’re transparent about it, as the destination fee shows at the top of the booking page

The Grand Hyatt Washington DC includes a lot of stuff with this destination fee, and I find that sort of annoying. I almost wish hotels would just say “hey, we’re going to screw you and charge you $20 per day for a $10 per day hotel credit,” but instead they come up with a laundry list of amenities.

Some of these amenities are completely useless, while other amenities are ones that are already included.

What’s included with the Grand Hyatt DC destination fee

Here’s what’s included in the Grand Hyatt Washington’s $20 destination fee:

  • 10% off Old Town Trolley Tours Silver Pass
  • Discounted luxury town car transportation to Union Station, Reagan National Airport, Dulles International Airport and BWI Airport (discounts between $31 and $65 per normal fare)
  • Over $70 discount on a two-hour private sedan tour of monuments and memorials including the White House and Capitol Building, round trip to the hotel
  • 15% off guided bike and Segway tours with Bike and Roll
  • Preloaded Metro Card ($3 credit). Access to Metro Center Station via lobby.
  • Washingtonian Magazine
  • Boarding Pass Printing
  • $10 daily food and beverage credit (excluding alcohol, tax, service charge and gratuity) for breakfast, lunch and dinner periods in Cure Bar & Bistro, Cabinet Restaurant, and in-room meal delivery
  • Premium High Speed Internet
  • Google Chromecast ready guest rooms
  • Two (2) bottles of water daily
  • Access to digital publications via PressReader
  • Luggage handling / storage
  • Local & domestic long distance phone calls
  • Healthy snacks in Lobby and Fitness Center
  • 24-hour access to Fitness Center

Great, so we can expect 24-hour access to the fitness center, luggage handling, and free Wi-Fi. This is totally worth it… not!

Basically what this boils down to is that you get a $10 food & beverage credit (which is really just a way to drum up more business for their restaurant) and a $3 Metro Card for $20 per day.

I suspect the “healthy snacks” in the gym will just be some apples.

Grand Hyatt Washington DC lobby

Bottom line

I suspect we’re going to see a lot more DC hotels add destination fees over the coming weeks and months.

On the plus side, the Grand Hyatt DC is at least transparent about the new fee. At the same time, there’s something that irks me about the long lists of benefits they add to justify these fees, not to mention that they claim basic hotel services are part of that fee.

(Tip of the hat to @HH_Cash)

  1. There needs to be push back on this — esp if they use it to circumvent taxes. One day they’ll have $1 rates with $200 destination fee / day. Maybe Washington can take a look at it since it’s on their door steps (insert laugh here).

  2. I particularly liked:
    “Two (2) bottles of water daily”

    The number is added in brackets presumably for those hotel guests too dumb to understand the meaning of the word “two”.

  3. Stayed in this hotel a couple weeks ago. Really mediocre in every possible way. Bed was horrible – hard and no duvet at all. Basically just a thin sheet. Small squishy pillows. Just one more reason to avoid avoid avoid.

  4. Grand Hyatt Washington is a joke!!

    Lacking if maintenance and staff are pretty common. You can’t imagine a Grand Hyatt service below a Hyatt Palace.

  5. This is really something that needs legislation to sort out. Two things need to be done.

    First of all – all booking sites need to show the full price, inclusive of all mandatory fees and taxes.

    Second of all, where there at room taxied levered on hotel rates they need to apply to non-optional fees like this to prevent hotels from evading taxes they should rightfully be paying.

    The price you are offered something for should be the price you pay – end of story and no business should be getting away with using an accounting trick to pay taxes it rightfully owes.

  6. With Marriott properties, I’ve found that if I call the property before the cancellation deadline and explain that I will not pay the fee, they note the rez and upon arrival they confirm I’m exempt. Marriott Fallsview Niagara Falls Ontario was an example. The fee is big but perhaps Ontario law compels them to make it optional in fine print and waive it when pushed.

    Surely others have pushed on these fees, what was your experience? It’s one thing if they’re all asking. It’s another if one can usually get it waived.

    Any datapoints about hotels that flatly refused to waive the fee when asked?

  7. the Kimpton properties in DC have been charging destination fees for at least a couple of years. it’s ludicrous, but at least some of them have a house car, in addition to the wine hour and other perks.

    I think resort/destination fees should broadly be discontinued. If the resort wants to offer a discount package of stuff, offer it as a discount add on. don’t make it effectively part of the room rate.

  8. Ben—have you covered the recent news that they’re gonna start charging properties commission on all these type of fees since another incentive for properties to ass these horrible fees has been avoiding having to pay any commission on this revenue when people don’t book directly which I’d guess is a pretty significant portion of their room bookings.

  9. I feel like Hyatt has been particularly aggressive about destination fees. All of the full service Hyatts in SF have a destination fee (compared to one hotel in the Marriott portfolio). The Andaz West Hollywood recently added a destination fee, and now the GH DC.

  10. Totally agree with the sentiment and specific comments above. Having said that at some hotels and in some circumstances there are ways to game the resort fee. The hotels will almost always “lose” money on the resort fee if you take advantage of the most valuable benefits. For example I was at the St Regis New York over the weekend on a points booking but still subject to the $50/day “Daily Destination Fee”. The fee included a $50 daily food/beverage credit that could be used at the Astor Court or King Cole Bar. This was an easy one to use, though they inevitably get a few extra $’s out of you (which I was fine with).

    They also offer free VIP tickets to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MOMA (limit two tickets per day). Because we already planned on popping into both museums this was a win. At the Met you were allowed to enter the museum an hour early and go through the members line; not attributing any additional value to these perks you still saved the $25/person tickets. At MOMA you also were able to skip the lines by going to a special tickets line. Those tickets were also $25/person. So for $100 (actually $114.76 including taxes) in fees for two nights we received $200 worth of value. I’ll take a 43% discount any day (on things I already planned to do). We didn’t use the online magazine perk or a few other imaginary benefits, but the museum tickets and King Cole Bar subsidies were quite welcome.

  11. “Two (2) bottles of water daily”. Wow!!!! A bottle of water costs $0.19 at Costco and hotels need to charge a convenience fee to offer those to guests. Keep bringing all hotels that charge these stupid fees as I will have them on a list of hotels that will never see my money.

  12. Well, if you get to keep the metro card, you save the $2 fee. If you reload it, you save the $1 fee wmata charges for single farecards. While I agree that destination fees are total bull, the metrocard thing would actually be a handy benefit for the average dc tourist. Amusingly the GSA fedrooms program actually prohibits destination fees.

  13. Out of curiosity, do these “destination fees” influence peoples’ perspectives on tipping? Are folks less likely to leave a housekeeping tip if the hotel is already scamming you for $20-30 per day? And if the hotel can increase prices to this extent, how can they continue to push the housekeeping staff salary into guests’ responsibility? I haven’t stayed at a destination fee hotel yet but I’d seriously rethink tipping if I do in the future.

  14. “The Grand Hyatt Washington DC is adding a destination fee as of June 1, 2019 (waived for Globalist members). First of all I have to give the hotel credit in two days:”

    Should it say “ways” instead of “days”?

  15. @DLPTATL—I am not sure the hotel is “losing money,” even if you are able to take full advantage of the “benefits.” Hotel f&b has such a high markup that my guess is that the cost of a $50 credit is well below $50 (and at least at the Hyatts in SF, the credit is only good for the hotel’s main restaurant, not room service or grab & go). Many of the museums in NYC (including the Met) are actually free; the admission fee is actually not mandatory. Etc.

    Even if you are getting more than $50 of value, I doubt the hotel is spending any where close to $50 to provide you with those benefits, so they’re still making money.

  16. @Andrew, completely agree with you, that’s why I said “lose” in quotes as the mark-up on F&B is huge so $50 in drinks probably cost them less than $10 including labor and RE costs. I don’t care if the hotel is losing money, only that I am saving more than I am spending on the fee.

  17. “It works out better for the hotel than an increase in the room rate, since historically they don’t have to pay travel agents a commission on the resort fee (though ***some*** online travel agencies are changing that)” [emphasis mine]

    feels like the word choice of “some” might be the understatement of the century, which has an implicit connotation of a lesser/minority player in the market space trying to make a bold a statement and hoping the majors will follow.

    It’s BOOKING.COM (and all its corporate siblings) we’re talking about … in an essentially duopoly market in the US at this point. how many hoteliers can exactly afford to say no to them ?

  18. Multiple hotels in Boston, maybe ~40% of downtown. “Free domestic and domestic long distance calls” “Complimentary gift with $10 or more purchase at our store” “Fitness Center & Amenity Access” “Local Phone Calls” “In-Room Starbucks Coffee & Bigelow Tea” “Boarding pass printing in business center” “Cozy robes” “Morning coffee station” are some of the joke offerings in urban/amenity/resort fees.

  19. Free local calls? What is this, 1967? I guess not because nobody in 1967 had the gall to charge a damn resort fee!!!!

    I’m no fan of having government solve one’s problems, but this is an exception. These egregious fees need to be banned. They’re anti-competitive because they distort pricing and magically become ubiquitous in certain places such that they are impossible to avoid. It’s a total scam (as are the BS fuel surcharges that the likes of BA charge you). Fight back!

  20. @ Ben — The rooms at this hotel suck anyway. Stay at hotel that doesn’t have these ripoff fees.

  21. It’s totally infuriating when hotels impose this, but much more so when they list basic services of any 4 or 5 star hotel as “amenities” included in the fee, as if we hotel guests are too stupid to understand these were already included in the stay anyway.

    I also question, as some others have mentioned here, if this won’t substantially reduce tipping, especially for bellboys/doormen as the hotel now essentially states you are paying a separate fee for luggage storage and handling (!!!). This seems potentially very unfair to those members of staff.

    Luckily the Grand Hyatt DC has never seemed to me a very good hotel, so it’s unlikely I’d ever stay. Hopefully it takes them some time to roll this out at the Park Hyatt – and at rival properties.

  22. Would one in 500 guests pay the fee for that package of nonsense voluntarily? I doubt it. It is nothing but a way of presenting fraudulent prices to their customers and through booking sites. Boycott these scoundrels.

  23. Let’s face it.

    The general consumer who travels on their own dime is bearing the brunt of this. Most business travelers who the hotels are taking advantage of won’t care because it isn’t there money.

  24. I will never stay at a hotel that charges these scam fees again. I would rather downgrade to Hyatt Place or Comfort Inn.

  25. I’m assuming if you take the Metro from the airport to the Grand Hyatt you will have already bought a Metro Card…

  26. But this is the best example of capitalism. Exploit the end user until they squeal. This is criminal but simply the way things are done here. If you don’t stand up for something, you will fall for anything, case in point.

  27. I GUARANTEE that the $10 food & beverage credit and a $3 Metro Card will be dropped within 6 months; they’re there to soften the blow on introduction, and then will be cost-cut away.

    Incidentally, this is exactly what you get with deregulation.

  28. I’ve stayed here many times – it’s not a nice place. Super outdated rooms. What a ripoff.

  29. This cannot possibly go on much longer. At some point some state government or congress is gonna start outlawing these. This crap would never fly in Canada or Europe (I live in US and I’m not America bashing but Europe and Canada are generally quicker to protect the consumer, rather than protect the business)

  30. I had an enjoyable stay here and was planning on staying there again. Now that they’ve done this, however, I’ll avail myself of DC’s many other hotel options. I’m also going on mentioning this in my (otherwise positive) TripAdvisor review and suggest others here do the same.

  31. I assume tips can’t be required on mandatory purchases right? People should use the food credit at the restaurants and make waiters know why you are not tipping on these “required” spending.

  32. I just used my Hyatt credit card anniversary free night at this hotel. (I would’ve never paid $450 for that tired room.) Award nights do not get charged a destination fee so I was spared that argument at check-out. The front desk clerk graciously gave Lounge access upon check-in even though I’m only a Discoverist. So overall, I had a pleasant stay but it does not matter. I’m never staying here again because they will lead other DC hotels to start charging the same superfluous destination fees as well. I told them that on their survey AND I left a 1-star review on Trip Advisor.

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