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Wednesday 12 November 2014

Hotels and resorts find another way to rip off their guests

"Resort fees."

It sounds an innocuous enough phrase but it is the latest way for US hotels and resorts to rip off their guests - legally.

If you book into one of the major hotels in Las Vegas, for instance, you will be quoted a price for the room for the night. Say $250.

Except that you will also be slugged up to $28 per night, every night, for what the hotels call "resort fees".

These charges cover wi-fi access, local telephone calls, newspapers, and use of the hotels’ pools and fitness centres. The fee is non-negotiable, even if a guest does not use any of the services, the Los Angeles Times reports.

So even if you don't want wi-fi, or don't intend to swim in the pool: tough luck. You'll be paying whether you want it or not.

Unlike US airlines, which now must include the total price, including taxes and fees upfront, hotels along the Las Vegas strip continue to display a base price that’s lower than what a guest eventually pays. The rort started in the 1990s and is now common in Florida, Hawaii and the Caribbean, as well as in Nevada.

It's all unadvertised, hidden away in the small print and totally legal. And what happens in the US eventually spreads around the world, right?

The resort fee will now be $25 per room per night at all eight properties under the Caesars Entertainment banner, and is $28 at properties such as Aria, Bellagio and Delano, the LA Times says.

Stay a week, and add in the outrageousness of being expected to tip up to 20% to every waiter or bellboy that comes within cooee and that US holiday is suddenly looking a whole lot more expensive.

The official Las Vegas website says: "In Vegas, 15 to 20 percent of the total bill is a good rule of thumb for tipping." 

But punch the words "resort fees" into the website search box and nothing appears. Zilch.

It's a dirty little secret no one wants to talk about.

And to think the hotel industry used to be called "the hospitality industry".

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