Ridiculous: This Marriott Hotel Charges Fees To Use Your Points

Many hotels charge “resort fees,” which is one of the most frustrating practices in the hotel industry. The two primary motivations for hotels to engage in this practice is to limit how much commission they have to pay travel agents (since they don’t get a commission on resort fees), and also to make their rate appear lower than it actually is, since many websites display hotel rates before all taxes and fees.

The practice is bad enough at resorts, though unfortunately lately we’ve also seen this spread to city hotels, which is obscene. Hotels typically call these “destination fees,” and it’s nothing more than a money grab.

Typically when you redeem points you still have to pay these resort and destination fees. Even elite members typically aren’t exempt from these. That’s one thing I love about World of Hyatt, because top tier Globalist members are always exempt from these fees, regardless of whether they’re on a paid or award stay.

That brings me to one hotel that has a ridiculous fee exclusively for award stays. The JW Marriott Los Cabos doesn’t have a resort fee. If you’re paying cash, you’re just subjected to Mexico’s usually high hotel fees, which include 19% government taxes and fees, plus a 10% service charge, for a total of 29% on top of the regular rate.

As you’d expect, you don’t have to pay that on an award stay, since the 29% would be added to a rate of zero. So I guess to make up for that, the JW Marriott Los Cabos charges a service charge of 30USD per night for all award stays.

It’s one thing to charge something on an award stay that’s also charged on a revenue stay, but to add fees to award stays that don’t exist on paid stays is just plain ridiculous.

For the record, I called the hotel to clarify that paid stays don’t have any resort fees, which they confirmed was the case. So this is most definitely something that just applies on award stays.

(Tip of the hat to @Kalbozey)

Comments

  1. I’ve paid small sums on a number of Starwood as well as Marriott award stays … most amusingly the princely sum of €1 each time at the Meridien St. Julians in Malta “because is a government charge, we cannot waive it” as they jokingly describe it on check-out. So can we be certain none of this “fee” comprises government taxes? Especially when we see the breakdown of estimated government fees and taxes you provided on that screenshot….

  2. Unlike the case of Malta, this is not a tourist tax or anything, it is a service charge imposed by the hotel only for award stays.

  3. @ Steven M. — I don’t think that’s unreasonable, because some cities have per room tourist taxes, where it’s a fixed amount per room. That has to be paid regardless of whether you’re on an award stay or paid stay. The difference here is that the hotels only fees are a percentage of the room rate, so it’s unreasonable to charge that when the rate is zero.

  4. @Lucky, playing both sides it is very possible that it is a percentage of the room rate based on a guaranteed minimum, which they don’t have a problem with on paid rooms. Now, it is not well explained and if it is, in fact, just for the hotel to pocket, Marriott needs to step in, and agreed it’s ridiculous…but I would do a little more digging first.

  5. I can’t imagine Marriott cares. It’s always been my impression that very much unlike SPG, Marriott doesn’t especially care about forcing properties into line on anything. It’s one of the things I’m dreading most about August 18.

  6. I would argue typically resort fees are indeed waived on points stays – Hyatt, IHG, Hilton… Maybe time for a great article on this! “Which chains do and don’t resort fee f$&@ you on Points stays”. Just did a points weekend at the Arizona Biltmore Waldorf Astoria with $28 resort fee waived. Got generous Hilton gold benefits as well.

  7. As crazy as this is, it’s really not much different in principle from YQ charges on award tickets. British airways charges you $500 to use your points on an F redemption.

    My broader problem is the price transparency issue, not the presence of the fee itself.

  8. Hyatt Globalists get waived resort and parking fees on award/points stays. Saved around $80/night on these fees at the HR Huntington Beach and the GH Manchester San Diego.

  9. @ Ben Hughes — I’m not here to defend airline fuel surcharges, but the point is that at least airlines also charge those on revenue tickets. In this case the hotel is charging something that they don’t charge on revenue tickets.

  10. The service charge exists on paid stays and appears to be linked to 10% of the base rate. Perhaps the hotel (or government?) requires this amount to be collected on all stays, paid or points, however, Marriott’s systems are not able to create a variable charge on award nights based on the cash rate. That would require the hotel to have to develop a fixed rate. Perhaps people are more inclined to use points on more expensive stays and thus that is where the $30 service charge comes from — that members are using the points when on average the room rate is close to $300. This is just speculation on my part but could explain what you’re seeing here. It might not be an attempt to gouge the customer but rather could be a limitation on what Marriott’s systems are able to do.

  11. We stayed there last November on points, Lucky. But then we upgraded with $150 cash/night to the Griffin Club & still got charged that fee!

    Gotta say the Jim Olson design was breathtaking, though…we enjoyed every minute & is now our favorite property in Cabo. The upgrade to the GC provided 2 meals/cocktails/constant snacks/entertainment/private pool daily, well worth it, too.

  12. @ wadacash — Be that as it may, this is literally the only hotel I know of that’s doing this. So to me that makes it pretty unacceptable.

  13. Wait..

    “@ Ben Hughes — I’m not here to defend airline fuel surcharges, but the point is that at least airlines also charge those on revenue tickets. ”

    Are you suggesting that a YQ charge is simply a surcharge like any other and not simply a large % of the ticket price “reclassified”?

  14. @ Pernicou — That’s not what I’m saying. Fuel surcharges are total BS, just as resort fees are. My point is that airlines charge/reclassify these same fees on award tickets and revenue tickets. I’m not saying that’s okay, I’m just saying it’s different, and I don’t think it’s a fair parallel.

    What Marriott is doing here is similar to Qatar’s recent surcharge that they added for redemptions, just because. It’s not tied to any fees charged on revenue tickets.

  15. I’m sure we will see tons more destination and nuisance fees as well as point redemption charges
    After all lets not forget this is Marriott and we have seen them in action for 20 years
    The Delta Airlines of Hotel programs ruining the industry and customer value
    Hope your seat belts are securely;y fastened all

  16. @Lucky,

    Let’s not forget the rental car companies that charge a recovery fee for the points they give you to your airline of choice.

    Let’s also not forget the fuel surcharges, which can be higher for an point ticket than a monetary ticket (Iceland air and others)

    And while you and I are exempt, how about the non-elite that has to pay a roughly $75 fee to get an award ticket within 21 days of departure.

    Did you happen to ask the JW Marriott what “service” they were going to provide you with your loyalty reward?

  17. The only way is to let them know its costing them and move your business elsewhere, the Hilton Los Cabos down the road doesn’t charge a fee for points.

    Also it’s generally not a good option to use points in Cabo out of season. Pretty much guaranteed you can get a LNF/BRG claim approved for effectively 50% off the rate on Marriott.

  18. I don’t like BS fees any more than the next guy, but if it’s really a legit “service fee”, i.e., a pooled gratuity that compensates staff, rather than going to the hotel’s bottom line, then I can see the rationale for charging it on award stays. The maids, bellboys, etc don’t do less work just bc we’re using points. Maybe it’s sort of like tipping on a free breakfast? Now, if people know for a fact that the “service fee” doesn’t go to hotel staff, then I’m as annoyed as everyone else.

  19. Color me unsurprised. I recall there’s a Marriott hotel in Toronto that charges a fee that they pass on to the local visitors’ bureau, which I wouldn’t find sketchy if this wasn’t the only Toronto hotel that did that. As much as I love Marriott, they’re the worst when it comes to dumb fees.

  20. Aha, Los Cabos…never been there, but I will celebrate my birthday there later this year, courtesy of The Westin Los Cabos Resort Villas & Spa, in what I believe is a fantastic deal.

    In exchange for sitting through a one-hour sales pitch for a timeshare on the property, I was offered a 4-night package for just $299 for the stay, plus 5,000 starpoints thrown in to thank me for showing up. I made sure to confirm that rather than starpoints, I would get 3×5,000 MR points, because the stay will happen in 3 months, when starpoints would already be a thing of the past. 😉

    Payment of the $299 for 4 nights was due upfront and I asked whether I would get an elite (SPG Gold) bonus if I paid with my SPG AMEX. I was told no, because the rate was so cheap no elite benefit of any kind would be offered or available. So, I did what I was thinking about doing all along, and paid with the CSR to get 3X UR points, which have already posted.

    There was no “resort fee”…

  21. This is one of the worst properties for elites because despite Mexico being empty because of violence and the decline in US tourism, the hotel cheats elites by not providing any benefits even upgrades. There are horrible experiences in the FlyerTalk thread on it.

  22. Been going for several years to the Marriott Aruba Resort & Casino, which is a beautiful property. Last year I was hit with a 14% service charge. I rented a room for my kids and my wife and I used points for our room and we got hit with that service charge. At the desk, I demanded to know what services did I receive for the charge and they couldn’t answer me. I put that whole episode on Trip Advisor and my plans for next year do NOT include that hotel.

  23. @Ben Hughes

    Yeah but just because one person or entity does something doesn’t mean that its perfectly logical for another person or entity to follow suit.

  24. If youre going to Los Cabos, stay at the Hyatt Ziva instead. No fees on awards plus all you can eat food and drink. Great property, too.

  25. I was recently researching this property as a possibly family vacation option, but as soon as I priced out a 5-night paid stay for 2 adults and 2 children (5 years and 1 year) I ran into a whopping $690 “extra person fee” for the 5-night stay. This was not the all-inclusive option and was separate from the “estimated government taxes and fees.” Anyone else seen this at this property? This is a dealbreaker for me if enforced.

  26. I’ve just tried to book a week at Domes of Elounda, Crete for next year using points and it’s insisting I pay a non refundable fee for booking…..

    Marriott Rewards Redemption, deposit required, non-refundable if cancelled less than 30 days before arrival.

    To ensure that you receive this special rate, we will charge your credit card a prepayment of 258.92 EUR when you make your reservation.

    Cancelling your reservation
    You may cancel your reservation for no charge until 13 June 2019 (30 day[s] before arrival).
    Please note that your prepayment for this special rate is non-refundable.

  27. The Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club, Autograph Collection in Miami Beach, FL also charges a $30 per day “amenity fee” for reward stays.

  28. Hyatt Ziva is gross! Went for Spring Break… it’s great if you like cruises and buffets. If you’re a foodie, forget it! We dined at Jazmin’s (twice) and Flora Farms because we were tired of the food by the first day.

  29. Extra fees stink, but I’ll consider accepting a flat rate fee. I get supremely upset when resort fees are a % of your rate meaning that not only are we all paying different rates for the same room, but paying different fees for the EXACT same service on top of that.

  30. Does anyone know if this $30 fee at JW Marriott Cabo is refundable if the reservation is cancelled? I can’t tell when going through the booking process. Thanks!

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