The new TWA Hotel at JFK is open for bookings! Are you excited? You shouldn’t be.
The TWA Hotel will join over 100 hotels in New York City that now lie about their advertised room rate. Many, like this hotel, do not just lie about their room rate, they use that lie to cheat New Yorkers of hundreds of thousands of dollars in hotel taxes. Also, hidden hotel fees happen to be bad for hotel workers. Hotel workers receive more tips from those hotels without fees than those with hidden fees. So the TWA Hotel will lie to you about your room rate, cheat taxes and hurt hotel workers.
Still want to book? Let’s break down how the hotel will use fees – here they are calling it a “facility fee” – to lie to you and cheat taxes. The hotel advertises a $215 room for Sunday, July 14th.
When you click on more about this rate do you see that there is a $10 facility fee. If you didn’t click on more about this rate, you would never see any mention of the facility fee ever until after you’ve completed the booking process.
After you click View Available Rooms and then only if you select on that screen view price breakdown will you see an actual price breakdown. Again, if you didn’t click this link, you’d never see the actual price until after the booking process.
Here we can see that the $10 facility fee is being taxed something that makes it end up at $10.89 inclusive. What is that? It’s the New York City sales tax of 8.875%. Hotels in New York City are taxed at 14.75%. It is a difference of 5.875%. When a hotel uses fees to lie about the room rate, they are essentially splitting their room rate into two parts - one part is advertised, one part is hidden as a fee. Here the fee is used not just to lie about the room rate, but to pay less tax as well.
If the hotel was honest about their room rate, then $10 of their room rate would be taxed at 14.75%. So it would cost $11.48. It actually costs $10.89 because they are using the fee to cheat taxes. That is a difference of 59 cents. The hotel has 512 rooms. The hotel cheats $302.08 of New York City hotel taxes per day. 302.08 x 365 = 110,259.20. The TWA Hotel will be cheating $110,259.20 of New York City hotel taxes annually. If you stay here, you are helping this hotel cheat taxes and hurt New Yorkers.