Update: The general manager of the Motif Seattle has reached out with the following statement:
Thank you for bringing your concerns regarding Motif Seattle’s Destination Fee to our attention through your recent article which my team and I had the chance to see. Rest assured that the items you noted are in fact not part of the hotel’s Destination Fee, and as soon as we saw your article, we took immediate action to have these items removed from our hotel website and vanity page, which should reflect the revised list of items soon, if not already. These items were inadvertently included in the list of our hotel’s Destination Fee inclusions by error, and we apologize for the confusion caused by this error. Our Destination Fee helps us enhance the guest experience, and the fees are reflective of various amenities, activities, and other benefits, available either on-property or around our destination. We will continue to look for opportunities to provide robust benefits especially as more local partners and businesses recover and open here in the Emerald City.
Make of that what you will. You can find the original post from yesterday below.
We’ve seen an increasing number of hotels add “destination fees” to room rates. Initially this trend started at resorts with “resort fees,” but clearly city hotels wanted in on the action as well. The concept of destination fees is that hotels claim to add some perks for all guests, and then introduce a mandatory daily fee to cover it.
Why do this rather than just raising the room rate? There are a variety of reasons — the initial rate will appear lower this way when booking, the hotel doesn’t have to pay travel agents a commission on these fees, and sometimes there are even tax benefits.
Motif Seattle’s outrageous $20 destination fee
Motif Seattle is a Destination by Hyatt property. The hotel has a nightly destination fee of $20 plus tax, which is intended to “enhance your stay.” It’s not the amount as such that’s egregious, but rather what the hotel claims that this includes.
The $20 destination fee allegedly includes the following:
- Pacific Northwest seasonal beverage offering, served in Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails
- High-speed wireless internet (Wi-Fi)
- 20% Discount off Frolik Café, serving grab + go breakfast on weekends (discount excludes alcohol)
- In-room coffee bar featuring Keurig single brewer with Cafe Valet coffee and tea products
- Two bottles of Motif still water
- Discounted Space Needle + Chihuly Garden and Glass ticket purchase
- Unlimited phone calls; local and long distance within the Continental U.S.
- In-room Amazon Alexa for contactless guest requests and questions
- Business center access, located in lobby level
- NEST product bath amenities
- 24/7 access to the fitness center
- Complimentary Tesla and Electric Vehicle charging station
- Iron and ironing board
- In-room safe
- Hairdryer and vanity mirror
- Convenient and spacious workstation
Clearly the hotel wants its list of destination fee amenities to look quite long, but that’s also exactly the problem. There are a lot of things included with the Motif Seattle’s destination fee that are questionable (free local calls, in-room coffee, an Amazon Alexa, etc.), but perhaps the most ridiculous are:
- An in-room safe
- A vanity mirror
- A “convenient and spacious workstation”
- A mini-fridge
- Bath amenities
Like, the basic amenities and furniture you expect when booking a hotel room are now part of a destination fee? Why not add bedding, towels, the bed itself, artwork on the walls, curtains, and carpet, to the destination fee while you’re at it? What’s next, an electricity surcharge? Oh wait…
On the plus side, at least at Hyatts these destination fees are waived for all guests redeeming points, and for World of Hyatt Globalist members on all kinds of stays.
Motif Seattle was also soliciting donations
Arguably even more ridiculous than the destination fee inclusions is that Motif Seattle was literally soliciting donations from guests last year during the pandemic. The hotel was asking for “a one time gift of $25” (plus tax, natch) and it was noted that “this hotel will receive 100% of this contribution.”
Of course the hotel industry suffered during the pandemic, and people definitely tipped individual hotel employees more. But the hotel is owned by a Hong Kong-based investment firm that paid $145 million for the property in 2018, so to see a multi-billion dollar investment firm solicit $25 donations from guests is… something.
Unfortunately it’s also not surprising, though, given the direction the hotel industry is headed. Hilton’s CEO has made it clear that coronavirus service cuts are here to stay, and the CEO of a hotel investment firm wants guests to continue tipping more, rather than raising wages.
The Motif Seattle is charging a $20 destination fee, which as such isn’t surprising (unfortunately). What is noteworthy about this fee is what it includes, including use of the in-room mirror, a desk in your room, and bath amenities.
It’s sad to see the direction so much of the hotel industry has taken. In the travel industry it used to mostly be airlines reaching new lows for service and fees, while it looks like hotels are now trying to compete in the race to the bottom.
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)