How To Trick Consumers and Hide A Resort Fee

Resort fees are meant to deceive consumers into thinking a hotel rate is one price when actually it is much higher. Since the whole purpose of a resort fee is to trick a potential customer into thinking they are paying less than they actually are, let's look at how one hotel hide its' resort fees. 

Deception Of The Day: The Doubletree Resort by Hilton Grand Key Resort - Key West

Here is the main website of The Doubletree Resort by Hilton Grand Resort - Key West: 

On their main page just below their main photo you will see the rules of the hotel. No smoking, self parking is available, if you want to bring Fido, it will cost $75.00. Absolutely nowhere on the main page is there a mention of an extra resort charge to get your key in addition to the listed price.

So let's look for a date - let's say September 16th for one night, and see what happens. Here's step 2/5 of the booking process:

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Ok, so here it looks like the best available rate is $279. Do you see the mention of the resort fee? Probably not. If you keep staring and Where's Waldo the page you might see at the very top there is a mention of the resort fee of $25 in 7.5 font. In case you were wondering, the room is being advertised in 21 font size. So let's go to the next step, step 3/5 and try to reserve that room for $279 to see if we can really figure out the price there. Here's the next page:

Ok! The Doubletree by Hilton Key West says we are 3/5 of the way there. Any mention of the resort fee on page three? Nope. So where did that tiny $25 fee go?  It went away apparently! Before we get closer to figuring out the price, we just have to fill out all of this personal information and then we get to the next stop, page 4/5. And....drum roll please....80% through the booking process they let you know about the resort fee! 

Here is what it looks like:

And then you can go to the final page to book and reserve your one night with a credit card.

An interesting note here is that they say that the resort fee is $25. Is that resort fee taxed? Or is the tax in the general tax area below? Let's try calling the hotel to see. So we called the hotel, asked a question about the resort fee taxation and the front desk seemed stumped and transferred us to general Hilton reservations where we waited for ten minutes for anyone to answer the phone. The woman who answered the phone was clearly nowhere near Key West, did not know the hotel even had a resort fee and did not know about whether or not it was taxed. 

If you were an inquiring mind who wanted to investigate further online you might go back to the main page of their site you could click on Hotel Details. From Hotel Details, that allows you to go to Hotel Policies. This is a particularly entertaining page. Enjoy this:

From this page one can gather that the Doubletree by Hilton in Key West can charge any  amount they feel in the name of a resort fee. Unlike every other item on this page - late checkout, pets, etc - the hotel does not list an specific amount for the resort fee purposefully leaving it open ended. Parking, as they say at the end of the page, is $0.00. Except that it is not free, as it is listed under the undisclosed Daily Resort Charge at the top. Whatever that fee may be!

So do you know the final price of the hotel? Of the resort fee? Is parking free or not? Do you have absolutely no idea what you getting for that room rate? Congrats! That is the point of the resort fee. Enjoy your trip to Key West :-/