The Most Ridiculous Hyatt Destination Fee Ever (Update)

The Most Ridiculous Hyatt Destination Fee Ever (Update)

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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.

Well, I think one Hyatt has taken ridiculous destination fees to a new low…

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
  • Mini-refrigerator
  • NEST product bath amenities
  • DIRECTV
  • 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.

Bottom line

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)

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  1. RetiredATLATC

    Just added one more property I'll never visit.

    The list keeps getting longer.

  2. Santastico

    It is so simple to get them to stop charging these stupid fees. Nobody should stay there. Zero guests and they will charge the flies. Supply and demand is the basics of Economy. If nobody stays there they will figure out there is no demand for that crap.

  3. Scottrick

    I have not stayed at Motif since it was rebranded/renovated. But it was not exactly high on my list of recommendations to out of town guests before that. I think there are lots of other options available, especially with the current Seattle tourism slump.

  4. Felix

    For EV owners with big batteries, the 20 bucks might be a deal!

    1. Timo

      Agreed. I have a plug-in hybrid and it's very rare to find a free (much less fully functional) charging station. It's easily $5 to $10 for a full charge.

    2. Eskimo

      It's per night not per stay, so unless you stay one night with an empty EV, I doubt you're going to be driving 300 miles every day.

      Judging from how fast they changed their FAQs, this Tesla perks might disappear very soon.

  5. David

    Please just make hotels forced to give the total price per night, just like airlines, instead of playing these ridiculous games.

  6. Sco

    I'm actually staying at this hotel right now. The one thing I will say is that resort fees have become pretty common in Seattle. Most of the other hotels I looked at booking for this trip also had resort fees.

    1. Nomilk

      The majority of the fees you're paying in Seattle is likely "occupancy tax", which is basically just tourism tax, I suppose. Then there's the "city tax", and even the formal "tourism tax" in some cases, ha.

  7. ChrisC

    The US should really change the law so you are presented with the full cost of the room right from the get go not after you've clicked through the booking only to find thinks like these fees have yet to be added to the cost.

    It's not hard to programme systems to do this and it would be more honest to the customer.

    How and much commission a hotel pays a travel agent for selling...

    The US should really change the law so you are presented with the full cost of the room right from the get go not after you've clicked through the booking only to find thinks like these fees have yet to be added to the cost.

    It's not hard to programme systems to do this and it would be more honest to the customer.

    How and much commission a hotel pays a travel agent for selling the room is between them and not me as the customer and shouldn't be used as an excuse for nor displaying the full price.

  8. Eskimo

    OMG!!!!(need to do it OMAAT style)
    That was FAST!!!!!

    After few hours of this post, the hotel FAQ has removed the ridiculous amenities from their site.
    I hope @Lucky updates this post with the before/after screenshots. Don't let these properties get away.

    BTW, I don't think the HK owners even know about begging $25 from guests. They just fire the GM if they don't meet bottom line goals.

  9. Shutterbug

    I am bracing for the 'staying overnight fee'

  10. ginger_pickle

    kudos for calling them out

  11. Kelley

    This is why I'm using VRBO more and more. This is ridiculous.

  12. Bob

    Lol $25 begging fee.. I mean donation.
    I'm embarrassed for the hotel because clearly they have no self respect.

  13. RF

    Who is the GM that approved these ridiculous things?

  14. SINJim

    They should add: Unlimited flushes and lockable door.

  15. glenn t

    While the average American traveller cannot think beyond a handful of high profile hotel chains to stay at, the rip-offs will continue and get even worse. Take a little time to examine what the independent and boutique hotels offer.
    Now is the time to consider changing out-dated and ingrained habits.
    Vote with your feet! You will thank yourself!

  16. David

    I've avoided HYATT like COVID when an ANDAZ in Mexico wanted to charge a percentage of the room rate which was $900 + tax ... the its was like; "daily resort fee of 5% and service charge of 10% will apply to all room nights" ... then I stayed in a fantastic beach front suite @ $1400 a room at the Rosewood ... no fee .... Hyatt loses .... as usual

  17. Aaron

    Is it just me, or is the main website not being updated anymore? I feel like only the blog page is being updated on a regular basis...

  18. Endre

    The GM’s response is nothing but corporate gibberish.

  19. Shawn

    I have never understood the “to enhance the guest experience”. You want to enhance it, stop tacking on these bullshit add ons. If I want a drink at the bar, I’ll go down and order one. If I want a 2 for 1 at some random place I can find on Groupon I’ll seek it out.

    Ben - I still say some of the most egregious “resort fees” are Hawaii and Vegas.

  20. Thomas M.

    The good thing is we can squeeze those greedy pigs with our wallets. Book an Airbnb instead!

    I spend 20K per year with Marriott and if I find out that they will not upgrade me or find out something like this before booking I just don’t book or contact the general manager to waive the fee. Those hotels have to understand that people have a gazillion of other options.

    1. Reno Joe

      Individual property owners do not care about one’s loyalty to a hotel network. As such, they get away with what they can. If they’re caught, it’s “Oops, we had NO intention of doing that. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.” Ben’s other posts illustrate this. If someone is a repeat guest at their specific property, then individual property owners care. I’m a multi-year Marriott Ambassador Elite. I have had an Ambassador Team CSR actually...

      Individual property owners do not care about one’s loyalty to a hotel network. As such, they get away with what they can. If they’re caught, it’s “Oops, we had NO intention of doing that. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.” Ben’s other posts illustrate this. If someone is a repeat guest at their specific property, then individual property owners care. I’m a multi-year Marriott Ambassador Elite. I have had an Ambassador Team CSR actually tell me that individual property owners RESIST giving upgrades and the granting of upgrades is at the full discretion of the individual properties. And, I have experienced . . . sometimes expressed to me in a less than gracious manner at the properties. While one will receive some upgrades over time, this elite status benefit is elusive. What’s left? A $25 breakfast coupon? Lounge access at hotels that don’t have lounges or brands that expressly exclude lounge access? After so much disappointment, I’m done. @Thomas M., that’s just the way it is. (Don’t go the AirBNB route — they hush up personal safety incidents at properties.)

  21. Reno Joe

    Individual property owners do not care about one's loyalty to a hotel network. As such, they get away with what the can. If they're caught, it's "Oops, we had NO intention of doing that. Thanks for bringing this to our attention." Ben's other posts illustrate this. If someone is a repeat guest at their specific property, then individual property owners care. I'm a multi-year Marriott Ambassador Elite. I have had an Ambassador Team CSR actually...

    Individual property owners do not care about one's loyalty to a hotel network. As such, they get away with what the can. If they're caught, it's "Oops, we had NO intention of doing that. Thanks for bringing this to our attention." Ben's other posts illustrate this. If someone is a repeat guest at their specific property, then individual property owners care. I'm a multi-year Marriott Ambassador Elite. I have had an Ambassador Team CSR actually tell me that individual property owners RESIST giving upgrades and the granting of upgrades is at the full discretion of the individual properties. And, I have experienced . . . sometimes expressed to me in a less than gracious manner at the properties. While one will receive some upgrades over time, this elite status benefit is elusive. What's left? A $25 breakfast coupon? Lounge access at hotels that don't have lounges or brands that expressly exclude lounge access? After so much disappointment, I'm done. @Thomas M., that's just the way it is. (Don't go the AirBNB route -- they hush up personal safety incidents at properties.)

  22. FNT Delta Diamond

    An error? Someone had to approve updating the website or any printed materials. Why lie? The management could have gotten so much good publicity if they admitted they screwed up and then said, “As a result of listening to our customers, we are eliminating the fee altogether.”

    1. brizone

      Well, now it says:

      • Pacific Northwest seasonal beverage complimentary offering, served in Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails
      • High-speed wireless internet (Wi-Fi)
      • 20% Discount off Frolik Kitchen + Cocktail grab + go breakfast, currently available on weekends (discount excludes alcohol)
      • In-room caffeine bar featuring Keurig single brewer with coffee and tea products
      • Two bottles of Motif still water
      • In-room Amazon Alexa for contactless guest requests and...

      Well, now it says:

      • Pacific Northwest seasonal beverage complimentary offering, served in Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails
      • High-speed wireless internet (Wi-Fi)
      • 20% Discount off Frolik Kitchen + Cocktail grab + go breakfast, currently available on weekends (discount excludes alcohol)
      • In-room caffeine bar featuring Keurig single brewer with coffee and tea products
      • Two bottles of Motif still water
      • In-room Amazon Alexa for contactless guest requests and questions
      • Unlimited phone calls; local and long distance within the Continental U.S.
      • Complimentary Tesla and Electric Vehicle charging station
      • Discounted Space Needle + Chihuly Garden and Glass ticket purchase

      Basically, the only useful things that don't already come with every hotel room in town (or aren't already otherwise available to anyone walking dow the street) are:

      1) the electric car charging (which obviously isn't useful to everyone).
      2) 2 bottles of water. In Seattle, which has some of the best tap water on the planet.

      Just goes to show how broken Hyatt is, and how vapid their GMs are in general.

  23. Eskimo

    Dear GM of the Motif Seattle,

    Your response shows how disgusting your property is ripping off customers. Your coverup response say you made an error, yet you didn't even lower the fee for the items that you included items in error.

    You made bulls*** list of what's for the fee, now you made bulls*** excuse to remove them.
    Your property is full of s***.

    Acts like these are a disgrace to the industry and...

    Dear GM of the Motif Seattle,

    Your response shows how disgusting your property is ripping off customers. Your coverup response say you made an error, yet you didn't even lower the fee for the items that you included items in error.

    You made bulls*** list of what's for the fee, now you made bulls*** excuse to remove them.
    Your property is full of s***.

    Acts like these are a disgrace to the industry and will earn you bad reviews.

    As a person who doesn't believe in never ever customer. Rest assured, I will never ever stay in any property under your management. Because the GM doesn't care about the customer, the GM cares about my wallet only.

  24. Jjjjj

    I stayed there in June on points. It was a very confusing stay as a Globalist. Parking was apparently not something covered for globalists but was not charged when I checked out. New staff so I let it pass. Did not see the donation message back then. Wanted to stay at the Thompson but ended up here.

  25. Mark

    What a joke! I will avoid this property like the plague! So many other awesome Hyatt options in Seattle, Olive 8, Hyatt Regency that don’t play these games....

  26. Mrlasssen

    They got caught, and now dance around it with new words. Could the EV station be free, I doubt it?

  27. iamhere

    Mixed comment here.
    While I do not agree with the $20 destination fee at least there were many items to the list so you could theoretically get your $20 value or more. This compares to some hotels with a resort fee that cover wifi and use of the pool/deck chairs and are much more expensive than this one.

    Further, there are two issues that I thought of:
    1. They did not offer...

    Mixed comment here.
    While I do not agree with the $20 destination fee at least there were many items to the list so you could theoretically get your $20 value or more. This compares to some hotels with a resort fee that cover wifi and use of the pool/deck chairs and are much more expensive than this one.

    Further, there are two issues that I thought of:
    1. They did not offer you any type of compensation (e.g. refund of the fees or some sort of apology gift, etc)
    2. The reason they took action is because of your blog/post. What would happen to a regular customer? Would they be "stuck" as complaining but getting nowhere or some form reply...

    1. Eskimo

      How can you even get mixed?

      The whole idea of a fee itself is bogus. Stop defending the hotel or justify the $20, it can't.
      Please explain your way of thinking that you can get more value on any hotel?
      How do you extract more value if 1 night your room cost $200 and the next night cost $250. How do I 'use' that extra $50?
      Remember this is based on your own 'value' assumptions not hotel's revenue assumptions.

  28. Richard L

    Kevin, really? what a racist thing to say!

  29. Elteetrav

    I'm gonna find the email for this general manager so I can tell him how much I appreciate the BS, which I assume is included in the destination fee.

  30. UpperDeckJohnny

    Whilst copying the whole of the GM's text, you should have included his email address.

    If you receive a response, tell him it was ....inadvertently.... included!

  31. Cancele my reservation

    That s a pretty big error. If your are as careless about your hotel as you are about your website it is not a place for me. I Canceled my reservation especially after hearing about donations.

  32. Bgriff

    I stayed on a cheap rate once at Bally's in Las Vegas and they actually did charge a fee (something like $3.95/day IIRC) if you used the in-room safe. So don't assume that's necessarily an included part of the room!

    (Indeed, if hotels elsewhere want to get into the ancillary revenue game, Las Vegas would be a great place for them to look for ideas ... and I'm not talking about casinos but about the...

    I stayed on a cheap rate once at Bally's in Las Vegas and they actually did charge a fee (something like $3.95/day IIRC) if you used the in-room safe. So don't assume that's necessarily an included part of the room!

    (Indeed, if hotels elsewhere want to get into the ancillary revenue game, Las Vegas would be a great place for them to look for ideas ... and I'm not talking about casinos but about the many other ways that Strip hotels seem to find to nickel-and-dime customers ... to the detriment of the traveling public, of course.)

  33. Andrew

    Way to be a bigot. VFTW or 4chan is probably more your thing.

  34. kaboom

    why would anyone want Alexa listening to what's going on in their room?
    strange.

  35. Paul

    Just spent 3 nights at Hyatt's LA Jolla. As a retired business traveler I had come to expect more from Hyatt. The staff was excellent, especially front desk and parking people. But it stopped there, three days no fresh sheets or towels and of course no cleaning of the room. The topper or I should say bottom was after the first night the two coffee pods and cups (both plastic water cups and paper coffee...

    Just spent 3 nights at Hyatt's LA Jolla. As a retired business traveler I had come to expect more from Hyatt. The staff was excellent, especially front desk and parking people. But it stopped there, three days no fresh sheets or towels and of course no cleaning of the room. The topper or I should say bottom was after the first night the two coffee pods and cups (both plastic water cups and paper coffee cups) were not replaced. It was suggested by house keeping that I go down 11 floors and request a non used paper cup from Starbucks.

  36. DYKWIA

    Hyatt Place Keystone, Colorado; RESORT FEES $39.43 USD + Tax

    The real problem is that no where on the hotel's website or property website is this fee plus benefits clearly stated. It is just added onto the final price.

    Digging deep into the FAQ ar resorts website, it states:

    Your resort fee includes Wi-Fi access in guest rooms and public areas; access to our Spa amenities, pool, hot tubs and 24/7 fitness center;...

    Hyatt Place Keystone, Colorado; RESORT FEES $39.43 USD + Tax

    The real problem is that no where on the hotel's website or property website is this fee plus benefits clearly stated. It is just added onto the final price.

    Digging deep into the FAQ ar resorts website, it states:

    Your resort fee includes Wi-Fi access in guest rooms and public areas; access to our Spa amenities, pool, hot tubs and 24/7 fitness center; equipment valet to securely store your skis, snowboards, bicycles and golf clubs; Business Center access; morning drip coffee and hot tea from the Gallery Kitchen; daily maid service and bell service upon request.

  37. Pat

    I am waiting to hear someone really used this line in a joke I heard.

    Upon a presentation of a bill at checkout the customer asked what was this litany of dimes & nickles totaling a $ 30 add on. He was told it was for various items like PPV, refrigerator with stocked items etc. The man said he did not use any of those. Manager came back with Sir they were there all the...

    I am waiting to hear someone really used this line in a joke I heard.

    Upon a presentation of a bill at checkout the customer asked what was this litany of dimes & nickles totaling a $ 30 add on. He was told it was for various items like PPV, refrigerator with stocked items etc. The man said he did not use any of those. Manager came back with Sir they were there all the time , not out fault you did not use any...
    The man wrote out an invoice for $ 3500. Why asked the manager. Well it is for using my girlfriend's services. Sorry you did not use it ...she was available all the time !

Featured Comments Load all 45 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Shutterbug

I am bracing for the 'staying overnight fee'

David

Please just make hotels forced to give the total price per night, just like airlines, instead of playing these ridiculous games.

kaboom

why would anyone want Alexa listening to what's going on in their room? strange.

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