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Friday, February 29, 2008

Hawaii Resort Fees an issue for your vacation?

Welcome to your Hawaii VacationAloha and welcome back to travel tips from Best Hawaii Vacations,

Our recent posts about the Hilton Waikoloa Village may have enticed you to plan your next Big Island vacation at this wonderful hotel on the sunny Kohala Coast. When ready to book this Hawaii hotel or any other, make sure that your room rate, listed on the hotel website, will be really the cost for your accommodation at the end of your stay. Accommodation tax, of course, applies. Resort fees are the new 'exciting words' in the travel industry...for hotels to make an extra dollar, disclosed or not disclosed upfront, and for the tourist a reason to get upset about a vacation which was otherwise enjoyable and relaxing.

I have been looking into writing this post about 'mandatory' resort fees for quite some time. For that reason, I have been following online discussions in travel forums. Some of the reviews are not funny anymore. The issue about resort fees has become big in the tourism industry. That's why I was not surprised at all when the TV program '60 Minutes' picked it up. Here is how the TV team proceeded: The reporter would check in as a 'regular' person, mostly at a pricey hotel on the Mainland (don't ask me where they went), and then when presented with the bill after the stay a hidden camera would record the conversation between him and the concierge.

Believe me there were rare incidents of refunds when the reporter proved that he did not use any of the resort fee features. The magic word was mandatory resort fees. I think what is most upsetting for the guest are two things, either that the resort fee is not disclosed at the beginning of the stay, especially when making online hotel reservations, or that it is disclosed but stated as 'mandatory' right from the beginning and one cannot even opt out.

Why should a guest pay for a fitness and spa or daily snorkel in the ocean or use high speed Internet for the laptop, he or she did not even bring for their Hawaii vacation? I consider including the self-parking on the hotel parking lot into the resort fee, the 'sneakiest' move by a hotel. Where else can you leave your rental car? Especially when we are talking Hawaii and the hotels in the Kohala Coast like the Hilton. There is no way to park your car somewhere else!!!

OK, here we go. What do we learn from that? Before making your hotel reservation for your Hawaii vacation, make sure to know what is included in the resort fee and whether it's mandatory. And maybe you will even give booking a Hawaii vacation rental another thought? When we were running our vacation rentals on the Kohala Coast, the cottages included: free WiFi, free washer/dryer, cable TV, on property parking and even lei greeting upon arrival. So make sure, you will be happy at the hotel you book and the resort fee is for something you will really use. The guys from Hawaii Travel put a great Hawaii Resort Fee list together about which Hawaii hotels charge a resort fee, what do you pay and what will you get for your money. I also liked the article by Alex, founder of Hawaii travel blog Hawaiirama and published by Hotelchatter .

We would love to hear from our Hawaii travelers about their experience with resort fees. Which Hawaii hotel did you stay and did you have to pay a resort fee?

Mahalo for your comments. A hui hou, Pua Hawaii Vacations

Last but not least, Hilton Waikoloa Village has an $18 resort fee for coffee in room, seaside putting course, Kohala Spa access + $25 beachtoys credit (?). Avoid valet parking. It's a mandatory $11 fee.

Our today's Hawaii blog post girl is beautiful Amber from WahineStyle. Mahalo, Kawika!

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