Sheraton New York Times Square Adds $25 Daily “Destination Fee”

Filed Under: Hotels, Starwood Preferred Guest

Over the years, “resort fees” have become common at many vacation destinations. Hotels have two motivations for charging these ridiculous fees:

  • They’re a way for hotels to try and get more revenue without increasing the room rate
  • It works out better for them 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

Historically we almost exclusively saw these fees at resorts, but lately we’ve seen them spread to city hotels more. At this point there are dozens of hotels in New York City with “destination fees,” which are the city equivalent of resort fees.

Last November I wrote about how the Hilton New York, which is New York City’s biggest hotel, added a $25 daily “urban destination charge.”

It looks like Starwood’s biggest New York City hotel, the 1,750 room Sheraton New York Times Square, is following their lead. As of February 1, 2018, the Sheraton New York has a $25 daily destination fee.

This fee includes “upgrades designed to enhance your stay in New York City,” as they describe it. This includes the following:

  • 25 USD daily Food and Beverage Credit in Hudson’s Market, In-Room Dining, or Club Lounge
  • NYC Experience, choice of: Gulliver’s gate in Times Square; Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, or City Sights New York Cruise – including Hop on/off (one per day). See Tickets & Tours Desk to redeem.
  • 20% Discount at Landau on all regular priced merchandise
  • Fitness Class with On-Property Instructor (1 per day)
  • Enhanced Wired Internet and Local/Long Distance/International Calls
  • Food and beverage credit is per day, and cannot be accumulated for multi-day stays. Club Lounge credit is for beverages only; Platinum status or upgrade required for access to Club Lounge. Tax not included.

Okay, so of course I hate these fees, though at least this is one of the less awful fees we’ve seen. The cost is $25 per day, and for that you get a daily $25 food and beverage credit to use at Hudson’s Market (which is the hotel’s all day dining restaurant, and not one of those airport stores, as you may assume based on the name), in-room dining, or the club lounge. As you can see, the credit is on a per day basis, though can’t be accumulated over multiple days, meaning that you need to spend that credit every day or you lose it.

The real cost of this to the hotel is probably only a tiny fraction of the $25 retail value, because:

  • Many people won’t use the credit on a daily basis (do you really want to eat in the Sheraton’s restaurant or order room service when you’re in a city with as much amazing food as NYC)?
  • Many people will way overspend, generating additional revenue for the hotel
  • Service charges, taxes, and tips aren’t included, so if you order from in-room dining, presumably that comes with all kinds of fees

So this sucks, though at the same time as far as New York City BS “destination fees” go, this one delivers slightly more value than the others.

What do you make of the Sheraton New York’s new “destination fee?”

(Tip of the hat to Points, Miles & Martinis)

  1. It’s a crap hotel with no elite recognition. But they know they’re in a good location so they do whatever they want.

  2. I universally hate all of these fees and find that they are usually unfair to top level elite members who usually get most of what is included in a resort fee as part of the elite benefits. It is a way of devaluing elite status.

  3. Possibly the absolute worst use of Starpoints imaginable, especially given the plethora of recently-built properties in New York City.

    16,000 points @ 2.7 cents per point = $432. Plus that crazy $25 fee.

    You’d be utterly mad to waste Starpoints on that lousy property. Especially as I see a few mid-winter online rates for literally $200 all in.

  4. This is awful. It helps Sheraton hide the true cost of a room to make it harder to compare rates. It also means the value of a “free” night suddenly isn’t. I bet $25 covers all of their cleaning costs and then some.

  5. Seriously? No. I’ll stay elsewhere. I would never consider this property now. We go to NYC a few times a year but let me cross this priopety off my list.

  6. Sorry, I also just checked for the exact same night on Starwood’s site after logging in. That same room is $254 which becomes $323 with charges and taxes.

    And note well details about your 16,000 Starpoints rate plus $25: “Our 25 USD daily destination fee includes upgrades designed to enhance your stay in New York City … Tax not included.”

  7. Everyone should boycott these hotels. And tell them you are and why. Totally agree that this is the sort of shit that makes Airbnb more and more attractive.

  8. Ive stayed here multiple times, yes pretty much only bc of location. Fyi they also don’t let you make a green choice. Nyc unions restricted they claim.

  9. This is unfortunate but it is still a great option in NYC. I just stayed at this hotel for 12,000 SPG points on Dec. 23rd. I walked there from Penn Station, enjoying the Times Square experience along the way. At night I walked to Rockefeller Center and St. Patricks Cathedral for the holiday light shows. Afterwards I took the subway outside the hotel downtown to meet some friends and ending up galavanting through an empty Times Square at 4 am with my girlfriend, taking the short walk back to the hotel afterwards. Central Park is very close to this hotel as well. Overall was a great experience for 12,000 SPG points.

  10. yeah, these resort fees are pretty out of hand. paid $90 for one night, with $25 resort fee and $32 parking fee. 50% cost more. which is also lame that spg points come from only the room rate and not from any fees.

  11. No SPG points on fees and taxes!
    As a SPG life time Plat I hate this shakedown.

    I avoid staying at NYC hotels with the pro-crime, Socialist, Mayor DeBlasio.

    I book SPG hotels in Hoboken or Weboken for about 1/2 price of NYC. Very easy to take ferry or train into City.

    The NYC Sheraton is big on conferences and groups. Club lounge always a pathetic crowd; many bagging (taking) food and drinks to stock their room.

    Poor SPG recognition and upgrades.

  12. @Steven M – We stayed at that property last September. At the time, the best cash room rate we could find — anywhere comparable in Manhattan for three people — was around $450/night + taxes and fees (which would have pushed it to around $550/night). But somehow I was able to snag an SPG Free Nights room for a few nights at the Sheraton Times Square for 12K Starpoints/night: it ended up being a true $0 out of pocket, plus free breakfast and hors d’oeuvres in the club lounge (via my SPG AmEx).

    While I was indeed reluctant to spend precious Starpoints, at the time I estimated the value of doing so at something like 4.8 cents/point – and even higher if you factor in the value of free all-you-can-eat breakfast, snacks, and light dinner in Manhattan for a ravenous teenage boy. 😉

    Regardless of the specific numbers, my point is simply that it’s not necessarily “utterly mad to waste Starpoints on that lousy property,” but rather that it always makes sense to analyze the options available for each particular situation.

    But yeah, that new “destination fee” (even for award nights) sucks.

  13. The Sheraton is not the only Starwood hotel with a destination fee. Both the W and Westin Times Square have had a $25 destination fee for at least a few months (both fees include some sort of F&B credit and laundry credit).

  14. Noticed it on a Grand Hyatt New York reservation I just cancelled too (wasn’t there when I made it). I’m not even sure you get anything from the Hyatt one.

  15. Stayed at this hotel in October. Zero recognition of platinum preferred status, lackluster lounge, terrible rooms, indifferent staff. I wouldn’t go back and I wouldn’t pay an additional fee.

  16. I booked this hotel last week for a June stay, and there was no fee listed. They can’t charge this to me retroactively, right?

  17. So the ‘fee’ is per day but the benefits are per ‘stay’. I say this STINKS SPG – and I assume its coming from Marriott. But either way SHAME ON YOU!
    Even as a platinum SPG I will make a point of NEVER staying here.

  18. Well, another hotel to add to my boycott list. They’ll also be getting a tweet from me that they lost my business.

    I’m curious if any lawyers can weigh in on what kinds of legal remedies might be available for this kind of deceptive practice. I know a number of attorney generals are supposedly investigating these, but what then? Is it possible to bring a class action lawsuit because these practices are deceptive? Can we encourage the governors, attorney generals, mayors of these places to crack down on these, since they’re losing tax revenue?

  19. These shmucks are just milking customers further, forcing them to eat at their place in the best of cases. Loyal customers and points guys will play ball, but it is cheap, immoral and should be sued for bad business practice. Let all customers avoid destination fee-ed hotels and see what happens.

  20. We all know that these businesses like so many others have a ” what ever the traffic will bear” mentality, a practice in business whereby a company charges an amount that might seem excessive, yet is still within the range of what customers will pay for a product or service. If we as consumers only complain but do nothing more, then they will indeed practice corporate greed. So the answer is simple but perhaps not always easy, don’t stay at these properties as words means little without actions.

  21. @Ben Torode same with me! I booked before this was announced for a certain price, paid in advance and non-refundable. When I check my Starwood app, the charges have increased to include the destination fee retroactively. I called the hotel and they said the fee was “optional”. The problem is, when I show up at the hotel, it won’t be “optional”, and they’ll shrug when I tell them who I spoke to. There will be no choice but to pay this. I asked to get, in writing, that the fee is optional. So far they have not sent me confirmation of this. If they won’t honor the agreed price, I plan on filing a complaint with the Consumer Frauds Bureau in NY, and will cancel my Starwood Amex.

  22. @Don
    I contacted SPG twice and they finally got the hotel to contact me, so fortunately I have it in writing in the email. Specifically, they wrote:

    “You certainly have the option to opt out of the program upon arrival by simply advising the reception team at check-in.”

    I will definitely be printing out the email to present upon check-in.

  23. As was the case with several airline mergers in the United States, the fear by many, has been the formation of monopolies. Starwood’s “Destination Fee” is nothing short of extortion, but you might as well forget about defecting from Starwood to Marriott, as that pot is now as inbred as a Trailer Park.

  24. 7/14/2018: Something additional I thought wasn’t fair was double taxation. I used the destination fee of $25 in a Marriott lounge. My bill for one appetizer and one drink came to $33 for which a 15% gratuity is automatically added to the bill and a tax on the food is added. When I checked out- the Destination fee was on the bill of $25 with another room tax charge of $2.22 and NYC tax of $1.47 in addition to the hotel tax on the room of $14.29 plus NYC tax $9.46 plus Occ/JAV tax of $3.50. I told the front desk person why am I being charged an additional Room Tax and NYC tax when there is a Room tax and NYC tax charged. The front desk person said these are taxes off the Destination fee. I said, when I purchased food, I was already charged a food tax and on the food amount. In short–So they tax you on the food that you must purchase to avoid losing part of the daily $25 destination fee and they charge an additional Room Tax and NYC tax on this Destination Fee of $25 too. I only stayed one evening. This is not fair to consumers. Why hasn’t the NY State authority looked into this? This should be repealed.

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