Ridiculous: InterContinental Los Angeles Adds $25 “Facility Fee”

Filed Under: Hotels, IHG Rewards

If you stay in hotels with any frequency, you’ve probably dealt with pesky “resort fees.” These have become the norm at many destinations.

Why “resort fees” are charged

They were initially introduced primarily for two reasons:

  • 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 they don’t have to pay travel agents a commission on the resort fee; in some areas it also allows them to skirt the typical occupancy tax that otherwise applies on the room rate

Resorts were able to get away with it at first since they could throw in amenities like beach chairs, etc., which they might otherwise charge for. The problem is that once a majority of hotels in certain destinations introduced these fees, it made it tough for other hotels not to.

They were at an extreme disadvantage if they didn’t charge these fees. If they simply raised their rates they’d appear more expensive than the competition, given how good many hotels are at hiding resort fees.

Then “destination fees” were introduced

An alarming evolution of this is that we’ve seen so many city hotels now add “destination fees.” This works exactly the same way as a resort fee, but for city hotels. New York City is probably the biggest offender in this regard, as a countless number of hotels there have this fee.

This trend is now expanding to Los Angeles, as we’re seeing several hotels add a similar fee. A few weeks ago I wrote about the Andaz West Hollywood adding a “destination charge,” and now another LA-area hotel has added a similar fee.

The InterContinental Los Angeles’ “facility fee”

The InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown has added a $25 per night plus tax ($28.93 total) “facility fee” to their room rate.

So, what are you getting for an extra $28.93 per night?

  • Access to the hotel’s gym
  • Access to Spire 73, the hotel’s rooftop bar
  • Complimentary wifi
  • Local phone calls
  • Digital newspapers
  • Luggage storage for up to 24 hours
  • Guaranteed seating at La Boucherie Steakhouse

I’m always amazed by the non-benefits that hotels pretend they’re adding when instituting these fees. It’s one thing to add junk benefits, though even more ridiculous is suggesting that things that were previously included are now covered by the “facility fee.”

Luggage storage, free wifi, and access to the gym? That’s something every hotel should offer. Then local phone calls and digital newspapers probably aren’t useful to many.

The hotel has long offered guests free access to Spire 73, which otherwise has a $10 cover. And I also wouldn’t consider a guaranteed reservation at a steakhouse to be much of a benefit.

What’s next? Including air conditioning and electricity in the facility fee?

I also take issue with the lack of disclosure here. Nowhere during the booking process does it clearly or obviously state that there’s this additional fee. Rather when you pick a room rate you’ll just note that the rate is quite a bit higher than you’d expect, and you have to look in the fine print to notice that.

Bottom line

Unfortunately these “destination fees” keep expanding, with no end in sight. I take issue with them in general, but even more so take issue with the lack of disclosure.

To me it’s very similar how airlines sometimes handle carrier imposed surcharges. It’s one thing if they’re clearly disclosed, but when they’re just bunched into the total, some might assume that these are in fact government taxes or fees, when they’re not.

(Tip of the hat to Traveling For Miles)

Comments
  1. This is getting out of hand and the government needs to regulate it. Obviously it’s some sort of tax dodge too. But of course in corporation-ruled USA, that’s never going to happen. I have zero desire to travel to the USA anymore. The problem is consumers keep accepting it instead of taking their business elsewhere. Well, that’s their problem then as long as it doesn’t spread to other continents.

  2. The lack of disclosure is troubling but the bigger problem is the fees themselves. Tangentially, they could also have opposite from intended effects (e.g., more people may use the gym if they’re being charged a fee for it). It’d be one thing if it were optional.

    This actually may be an area where if we collectively complain loudly enough hotels will start reversing this trend. Lucky, you have more clout than the rest of us…

  3. These fees are so frustrating and ridiculous. I always try and not stay at a resort that adds those fees. It’s a sign they will nickel and dime you for everything while you are there.

  4. If all these “extras” are covered by the “facility fee”, then what is the $399 (plus tax) for? You’re right Lucky, next it will be “extras” like electricity, hot water, heck maybe even the bed. After all, it’s not like you can opt-out of any of the supposed “extras”.

  5. Just love how they claim that WiFi is complimentary when they make you pay for it with a destination fee…

  6. I noticed recently noticed that IHG hotels like Williard Intercontinental and Kimptons in DC have started adding $25-$29 for facility fees for useless “amenities”. A few smaller hotels are following suit.

  7. @AT – “more people may use the gym if they’re being charged a fee for it” – you watch, if that happens, then the hotels will probably apply a surcharge for “peak hours” at the gym or something like that. Maybe “priority treadmill use”, or “gym cleaning fee”… lol.

  8. @Lucky – given the platform you hold, I think you should be campaigning not just not for these fees to be clearly disclosed, but included in the room rates displayed on hotel web sites and OTAs.

    There is no meaningful distinction between a mandatory resort fee and a room rate increase (to the guest), and separating this out makes comparison between competing hotels difficult.

    The backlash on this will grow with time, and it was only couple of years ago that you posted an article praising the St Regis NYC for its destination fee…

  9. Really wish the government would step in on this. It’s getting out of hand and I don’t find the typical benefits that are offered to be useful. I guess they’ll be charging for A/C and heat next. I’d almost wish they just charged more for the room instead of adding a sneaky fee at the end before I’m about to pay.

  10. Another reason hotels do this is they can charge these resort/destination fees even on award stays. This practice needs to stop.

  11. its the mentality that ‘wealth’ must be spread out to every corner of society. if you can afford a $300 hotel night while there are $120s around, then you can & should shell out extra $30 w/o any feeling. its the mentality of taxing the rich. I think this place is going to blow itself up by doing that.

  12. The Marriott Park City is charging a facility fee as well. Covers shuttle to both Park City and Deer Valley mountains, an “enhanced” apres-ski reception (it was bogus) and a few other no-big-deal items. Booooooooo

  13. does this apply to all future stays or only stays booked starting today? I booked a reservation a few months ago.

  14. > The problem is consumers keep accepting it instead of taking their business elsewhere. Well, that’s their problem then as long as it doesn’t spread to other continents.

    I mean, that sounds great until you’re looking for a place in Manhattan and literally every single hotel charges some type of fee like this. This requires legislation to address given the dilemma outlined in the post (if one hotel does it and can have “lower rates” than everyone else needs to).

  15. Vote with your feet. And tell them exactly why. Maybe contact the local tourism board and tell them you won’t be visiting their city if the hotels play this game. And contact your members of Congress. Obviously it’s not likely they will do much about it, but if enough people raise hell they are more likely to do something. Sitting around complaining to the internet isn’t going to change anything. And I agree that people with a platform like Ben are good to keep talking about this, but you should also raise the issue with the hotel companies when you talk to them.

  16. Fake fees are going to cost hotels business. I will actively go out of my way to NOT stay at a property charging these styles of fees.

    Ever notice that the “benefits” the fees are for are typically standard for elite members anyways? This nonsense needs to come to an end.

  17. I abhor these types of fees, e.g., resort fees. The Palm Springs hotels are notorious for these fees. Customers should protest these fees and tell hotels that they won’t stay due to such ridiculous fees. Perhaps, if hotels receive enough complaints and feel the loss of business, they will stop this ludicrous practice.

  18. Normally I’m a free market kind of guy, but I think the fee game makes comparing properties and pricing more obtuse. I’m completely for government regulation disclosing all In pricing on internet searches. I actively try and avoid these fees, and full disclosure in searches would go a long way in simplifying the process for the buying public.

  19. Boring post, instead of complaining, do something about it. Start an online petition, ask Congress for a bill to prohibit unethical add on fees, start a letter to the hotel. Your posts lately are all half glass full sad melancholy posts. Be happy!

  20. One thing about these fees is that they don’t count for calculating cash back when you use sites like quidco to click through to the hotel.

  21. It’s certainly similar to the surcharges on airline tickets – like for BA – which also infuriate me. They charge a fare, and then there’s a separate charge, for no clear reason.

  22. Where people need to start hitting them is the surveys. Giving them a 1 instead of a 10 on value and explaining why in the “Why didn’t you give us a 10 on the previous question” box that pops up with a score lower than 9. If there is anything that will garner attention, it’s the surveys above anything else. If you don’t happen to get a survey, start adding TripAdvisor and Google reviews.

  23. You can add the IC Miami to the list of hotels charging $25 for nonsense benefits.

    I used to visit Las Vegas, but haven’t in a decade in protest of the resort fees.

    IHG is the worst about treating their guests like crap when on a reward stay (as if there was no connection to the spend that earned that reward), so now I guess the corporate plan is to treat their guests like crap on EVERY stay — sort of to smooth out the experience and leave a bad taste in your mouth every single time!

  24. Has anyone ever tried to refuse to pay the resort fee at check out? I wonder if they let you do it given how sketchy charging it in the first place is. I assume they would build into their budgeting an assumption that a certain number of people will balk at paying the fee, and it is probably easier to just waive it for them than litigate the indefensible. I think I will try this next time I encounter one.

    @Lucky – would be an interesting post if you could see what hotels’ official policies on this are for front desk staff. I’m sure not something they would willingly disclose, but some staff may spill the beans.

  25. Love the people crying for the government to stop a business from charging what they want.

    How about you send the property management a note complaining and simply stay somewhere else. Real hard to do.

    Bunch of babies in society.

  26. Adding insult to injury, at least with respect to Marriott properties, these destination/resort/facility fees don’t count towards points awarded for your stay (and I doubt they count towards your annual spend if you’re shooting for Ambassador status). Moreover, not only are they worthless benefits, but often things you’re supposed to get for free as an elite member (internet, bottles of water) so in fact you’re effectively paying for formerly free benefits.

  27. @Adam: You are not correct about the similarity between airline fees and resort fees (assuming your’re talking about YQ and similar surcharges instead and not baggage fees). That’s because airlines are required by law to quote all-inclusive prices. There is no such regulation that applies to hotel resort fees and therefore they are able to, essentially, lie about their prices. You click “book” looking at one amount and are charged a different amount — or even worse, are billed the additional amount on arrival at the hotel.

  28. These fees need to be legislated out of existence.

    There IS such a thing as good regulation, and this fee baloney is a prime example of it.

  29. I’m not one who normally defaults to “this should be banned,” but any fee that cannot reasonably be un-bundled should be banned. It’s reasonable for hotels to separate out government taxes, but they should not be allowed to deceive consumers by hiding charges like this.

  30. @Nicholas, I agree with you – these fees need to be made illegal. But it’s never going to happen in coporation-ruled USA for the same reason Labor conditions/laws are also terrible there. As for Manhattan, yep that’s why I won’t be traveling there anymore (same goes for Vegas). In those places, I noticed even Airbnb apartment hosts charge exorbitant “cleaning” fees – but only in particular places and you’ll find they all charge the same. As long as consumers accept it, companies will continue to gouge them. As long as USA is all about protecting companies, the “free market” needs to work both ways.

  31. I have stayed here a few times and have never been asked to show a room key or asked to pay a cover to visit the rooftop bar. Also, the hotel is a pain in the ass to enter with the amount of traffic.
    With that said, once you get past having to use two elevators it really is the best downtown option. Amazing views on a clear day from the lobby and bar.

  32. I’m a laissez faire kind of guy when it comes to government regulation: letting the market sort itself out is usually the best way. However, this is a case of collusion and dishonesty as opposed to “the market” and I agree with those who are in favor of regulating these fees out of existence.

    Do whatever you can to make life miserable for hoteliers who think that they can take advantage of us in this way. Hit them on reviews, argue about the fee, complain, basically make them sorry for trying to sneak in fees that add no value. And yes, the government should ban these fees.

  33. @Jimmy Gottfredson: “Normally I’m a free market kind of guy, but I think the fee game makes comparing properties and pricing more obtuse. I’m completely for government regulation disclosing all In pricing on internet searches. I actively try and avoid these fees, and full disclosure in searches would go a long way in simplifying the process for the buying public.”

    +1!!! Hidden pricing and deceptive pricing make the market work less efficiently. I’m a free market kinda guy too but I support European type laws that require the sticker price to actually resemble the end price.

  34. I hate to say it, but the government must step in and ban this. It is fraudulent pricing, and as Lucky mentions, the fact that some people do this makes it almost impossible for an honest place not to since they will then be at a disadvantage in searches. If they lie to you about their prices what else will they lie to you about? I will never knowingly pay one of these dishonest fees.

  35. recently saw this “resort’ fee pop up in places like SAN FRANCISCO and NYC

    $35 for
    1. Local Phone Use ?
    2. WiFi ?
    3. Newspaper
    4. GYM ?

    One hotel flat out refused to actually tell me what the fee was for

    Next they will charge you for :

    Use of Elevator
    Actual person to check you in

    I am not so much opposed to the fees ( you are not forced to stay there ) but how they hide them … and you usually find out about this uncharge at check in or check out

    Is there a booking site that discloses these so I can avoid them ?

  36. Every hotel that I look at shows their fees on the final page before you click purchase. I just take the bottom line total number and divide by the number of nights and that’s my real nightly room rate, tax included. Then I make my decision to click or not to click.

  37. Years ago when some Vegas hotels added a fee it was almost impossible to see it online. You had to click on a small link at the bottom of the page that states “Terms and Conditions” and scroll to the bottom of that PDF page to see that a resort fee would be added to your bill at check out.

    And the fees in many places are high, I’ve seen them from $35-45 per night.

  38. @Larry: That’s because airlines are required by law to quote all-inclusive prices. There is no such regulation that applies to hotel resort fees and therefore they are able to, essentially, lie about their prices.
    Well why not institute laws to do the same for hotels? LUCKY, let’s start something here.

    @Sam:
    Has anyone ever tried to refuse to pay the resort fee at check out? I wonder if they let you do it given how sketchy charging it in the first place is. I assume they would build into their budgeting an assumption that a certain number of people will balk at paying the fee, and it is probably easier to just waive it for them than litigate the indefensible. I think I will try this next time I encounter one.

    I have only twice been allowed to not pay the resort fee and that was by complaining at the front desk about its nefarious nature. What’s far more common is they’ve placated me instead with some consolation– i’ve received free coffee vouchers, extra points..

  39. @Dennis: Not sure where you are from but “I have zero desire to travel to the USA anymore” is an interesting and strong point. I agree these fees are ridiculous but that does not mean you should not travel to the US. There are amazing hotels and places here that do not charge these BS fees. Just avoid like I do hotels that try to be “innovative” with their rates. BTW, although I love traveling to Europe it becomes way more expensive than traveling in the US if you have young kids. In the US any hotel will let a family of 4 (2 adults+2 kids under 12 years old) to stay in the same room. Good luck with that in Europe where I need to book 2 rooms. Thus, every place has their pros and cons.

  40. It should work just like airlines. The full price including taxes should be factored into the total upfront price. Charge all the fees you want, but make that part of the price comparison when searching for a room.

  41. I think those fees are ripe for a class action lawsuit.
    One observation here is that they are charging customers 15.7% tax on the $25.00 destination charge and
    15.7%=LODGING TAX 14 PCT CITY TAX 1.5PCT STATE TAX 0.195PCT
    So CA and City of LA consider $25.00 as the lodging expense such as room rate. Questions: do they charge 15.7% on top of $10 access fee to Sprire 73? Should I also pay tax on services I didn’t use?
    It looks to me that by charging 15.7% tax hotel is admitting that the $25.00 charge is indeed a part of the room rate. Then it should be disclosed as such.

  42. Isn’t it a “Destination” fee rather than a “resort” fee? I was charged a destination fee in NY at the Marriott Essex House. Really frosted me. The exorbitant rates in NYC compared to Buffalo are the “destination” up-charge. To charge a destination fee on top of that is simple a sneaky way of reaching deeper into your pocket without having to say you are doing so up front. I agree this needs regulation.

  43. This is getting crazy. Are we, Americans, really so stupid that the hotels think that we won’t view this as an increased rate? The total that I pay, in the end, is the rate; they are just making me add it all up instead of being transparent.

    Where this does matter is with business travel. The optic of accounting for a “resort fee,” is what keeps me from staying at hotels like this.

    For those hoping the government will regulate it…Keep dreaming! America is about profit, nothing more. Every action the GOP takes is for big business; not the citizens. They will gladly put a law in place to protect the Sky Fairy, aka “God,” but they won’t protect us as consumers.

  44. Not a fan of this nonsense. I get it as a means of avoiding paying further costs to online booking agencies, etc. I wonder what the “hit rate” would be in negotiating these bullsh*t “fees” away when booking directly with the hotel? If I got stuck with the example above, I’d call the hotel (with my local call) and just leave the phone ringing; ask them to store my inflatable Swiss ball/pool flamingo, write a letter of complaint to the digital newspaper, while sitting my seat in the steakhouse whilst not ordering anything, etc. and just be a general nuisance getting the full value of the “facilities”….. Generally all the “benefits” provided by these fees are non-essential. Just don’t get me started on “fuel surcharges”!

  45. Its about disclosure and it showing up in the OTA searches. If that happens, the playing field will level out.

  46. Whether we like it or not, this is the trend of everything! Look at tips! It started because servers were making minimum hourly and it was to tip those servers who went above and beyond. Now, most restaurants expect 15-20% tip and the server is not doing his/her job any better and the servers are making more per hour now! Most restaurants keep a percentage of the tips now to pay for taxes and so on.

    And if you want regulation, they have to create a department and that has to be taxed to have government employees manage these fees.

    I see it in the state I live in with extra taxes for everything and I’m sure we will start getting taxed for air. I just don’t see these trends ever ending but expanding to more fees.

  47. For me JW Marriott Marquis Miami takes the cake for the most useless benefit with … wait for it … virtual bowling.

    “A daily destination fee of USD 20 added to room rate includes enhanced high speed Internet, virtual bowling and more!”

  48. The rooftop bar has free access before 8pm on most weeknights, so you don’t even get to use that part of the so-called facility fee if you stay during the week. This is completely ridiculous. I guess they can’t call it a destination fee because downtown LA as a destination is a really stupid idea.

  49. Lucky, you keep posting these articles on “pesky resort fees.” You know better than most how ridiculous these fees are. Why you step up and post an online petition demanding that any mandatory resort fee be added to the room rate published on hotel and OTA websites?

    I know it’s easier for you and other travel bloggers to simply toss it out there and stir the pot with it, but why not actually advocate for beneficial/remedial change? You have far more readers than most travel bloggers, which means you should also bear more responsibility as well.

  50. This is is the worst kind of trickery.

    All right Lucky and readers, what can we do about these sleazy deception charges that is effective?

    The only time I would stay at a hotel that would do this to me is if I don’t know in advance. But, how do we, the nauseated, let hotels know they are turning customers away?

    Or, is this one more case of charge’em and the customers we want (oblivious and rich) won’t even notice?

  51. Totally agree. What’s next “ charge your phone for free in your room “. I also hate the fact you pay a credit card fee for paying your bill. Funny my local shop ( in Australia) doesn’t feel the need to charge me 2.5% for buying a coke but the Hilton et al feel the need to “ pass this on …..”

  52. This is why us sucks. Do you ever hear Asian countries do that kind of things?
    Also, US customer just keeps accepting it. And US gov just ignoring it. Because US gov just work for the rich.

  53. reminds me of ebay back when someone found this loophole…

    $10 Iphone XR… Buy now.
    shipping cost $1000.

  54. This isn’t something that needs to be regulated. Unless it’s someone’s first time booking a hotel with a destination/resort fee, they’ll know to look. We don’t need more gov interference in our lives.

    However, it is absolutely ridiculous and does need to stop. I spend 120+ nights a year in hotels and will not stay in a resort fee property unless I have no other choice. Las Vegas is a tough city, but I’ll stay well off-strip to avoid it.

    Like most of you, I’m not upset with the cost (I can afford the $25-$50), but I hate the burying below the line.

  55. I’m waiting for Hawaii hotels to add a tax for any sand found in your room.
    They already have a Tax on paying a tax!!!

  56. I’ve stayed at this hotel many times. Only ever eaten at breakfast buffet restaurant. As a Platinum Ambassador I get free wifi anyway. I noticed this surcharge a few months ago. The room are very spacious and the views are fantastic. But the crowds are becoming more pedestrian and the rowdiness factor has increased. Even the pool day use passes they allow is annoying.

  57. This would be a great case in behavioral economics; how we interpret the charge differently as a “facility fee” as opposed to it just being factored into the room rate.

    I find this type of nickel and dime charging to be so annoyingly frustrating and I wonder how much customer loyalty damage it does for paying customers. It makes people feel like suckers and that is never good for fostering warmth from your customers.

  58. It seems to me these destination fees indicate hotels in the US are catching up to many of those in SE Asia that add a 10% “service charge” to the bill, similar to what one sees when you eat in a restaurant.

  59. Easy solution.

    Give them a 1-star review on booking, tripadvisor, or google maps or wherever you found the hotel, with the following written explanation:

    “WARNING: This hotel charges mandatory fees on top of the price you see disclosed here.”

  60. Hate these scams. I was a tour operator in Detroit in the 70’s and 80’s. Used to advertise flight/hotel charter packages in the Sunday papers for $299. Then the New York operators came in, advertised the same thing for $279. In small print, however, was “plus 15% tax and service charge”. Totally made up, taxes were included, service charge a farce. At some point, they passed a law against this. The NY operators were forced to play by the same rules, and since we were local, they eventually fell off. No reason why they can’t do that about these bogus fees, except for the lobby money that keeps it going.

  61. I think hitting them on the post stay surveys is the way to go in addition to bad reviews on Google, TripAdvisor, etc. where this practice is specifically mentioned. To help prevent them from spreading I think it would also be worth mentioning our disdain for and avoidance of these fees in post stay surveys from any hotel, even hotels not charging these fees. It’ll let them know people care enough to mention it when it’s not even charged at that property so may give them pause from expanding the practice.

  62. Similar to this is the ICNY TS charging a $30 daily “resort” fee is how the Ambassador services described it. While they list some additional benefits for this extra 30, the only one that seemed at all beneficial was a daily $20 f+b credit that could be used anywhere in the hotel. However, this 20 needs to be spent each day by midnight, thus it’s a use it or lose it deal. Coupled with the new standard Ambassador $20 per stay you could knock back some mini bar drinks or even have some restaurant bar snacks. The other benefits described were virtually worthless. So much so I cant even recall what they were.

  63. “its the mentality that ‘wealth’ must be spread out to every corner of society. if you can afford a $300 hotel night while there are $120s around, then you can & should shell out extra $30 w/o any feeling. its the mentality of taxing the rich. I think this place is going to blow itself up by doing that.”

    This is hilarious. This is a way for the (rich) hotel owners to raise rates and avoid paying taxes on the rate increase by calling it a “resort fee” instead of just raising the room rate. It’s also hilarious that someone thinks a resort fee charged by (rich) hotel owners is a “tax” on the rich to benefit the non-rich. LOL!!!!!!

  64. Kimpton hotels, which belong to IHG, all seem to charge what they call a “daily guest amenity fee,” which usually ranges from $20-30 (plus tax). It’s totally ridiculous since you just get what used to be FREE: wifi, free or discounted access to a gym (in-house or nearby), printing or copying pages. I used to love Kimptons. Now that they’ve gone this nickel-and-dime route, not so much…

  65. To answer previous posters questions about can this fee be removed–yes it can. I have had it removed at the Omni San Francisco twice and at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn once. My argument at the Fairmont was that the listed amenities with this new fee were already included before so why should I have to now pay a fee? I think that they count on folks being dumb and thinking that there is some added value. The Omni I told that I was going to cancel my reservation and that this fee was ridiculous. I also reminded them that this was not charged previously and that I wasn’t even in the room but to sleep so there was no value in this ‘amenity’ they were charging for. You can do it, but do it in writing or in person with a manager with a valid argument and don’t get crazy.

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