In 2006, hotel fees for phone calls, Internet access, fitness center use, and other items accounted for $1.6 billion in revenue, a figure that’s tripled since 2002. But times may be changing. An investigation of four Wyndham properties by Florida’s attorney general led to a $2.3 million settlement and a requirement that fees be disclosed up front, a practice that Wyndham has promised to adopt nationwide. Until the rest of the industry catches up, read on to avoid those fees next time you book.
Search for less corporate digs. Hotels catering to business travelers are only too happy to help guests pad their per diem.
Patronize chains that say no to hidden fees. Kimpton and Omni, for example, have made the switch to free Wi-Fi in their lobbies.
Book through hotel sites, but after checking third-party sites. The best deals are often found on hotels’ own Web sites, but many don’t list all surcharges at the time of booking. Orbitz, Travelocity, and other third-party sites usually do, so check them first, then do a price comparison with the hotel’s site.
Avoid the checkout rush. Settle your bill the night before. Hotels rely on the fact that travelers hurrying to catch a flight are often too time-pressed to dispute charges.
Feel free to haggle. If you’re a loyalty club member or frequent guest at a hotel, bargain for a daily flat fee for phone calls and other services.
Don’t overlook the obvious. You'll be forced to use the hotel’s phone if you forget to bring your cell-phone charger; stock up on bottled water so you won’t be tempted by the mini-bar; and when ordering room service, ask if a service fee is included before tipping.
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