Andaz Maui’s New Egregious Resort Fees and Declining Value

I absolutely loved my stay at the Andaz Maui last summer.

Since that time they’ve made several changes that make the property a whole let less attractive of a value proposition.

The Hotel Has Gotten Much More Expensive

The hotel doesn’t have a self parking option so if you drive, as nearly everyone will to take advantage of all that Maui has to offer, there’s a $30 per night valet parking fee.

Now with a $40 resort fee there’s a nearly-mandatory $70 per night on top of the room rate.

Here’s What the Resort Fee Gets You

The list of inclusions is rather… eclectic.

  • GoPro Hero 4 camera rental
  • GoPro photo & video editing lab
  • Outrigger excursion (Monday – Friday)
  • Stand Up Paddleboard lessons (Saturday – Sunday)
  • Snorkel rental
  • Yoga classes
  • Pilates classes
  • Stand Up Paddleboard yoga
  • Single & tandem bike rental
  • Single & tandem kayak rental
  • Ukulele lessons
  • Hula lessons
  • Body board rental

Some of these are things that were offered complimentary before, and it’s unlikely that most guests will take advantage of most of these (I could probably benefit from ukulele lessons).

Resort Fees are the Last Refuge of Scoundrel Hoteliers

Resort fees are offensive. They are not optional charges, so they are part of the room rate. Not including them in the room rate is disingenuous, the exact opposite of the narrative that Hyatt claims to tell about itself.

In 2012 the Federal Trade Commission warned hotel chains that mandatory resort fees may be illegal. Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas are being sued over their resort fees. Some Florida properties no longer charge resort fees as a result of a settlement with that state’s attorney general.

Here’s the most absurd resort fee I’ve ever seen.

Misinformation About These Scam Charges

Hyatt Gold Passport award nights are exempt from this fee. Hyatt confirms this for me. So go ahead and book a category 6 award here, which is 25,000 points per night. If you have a Hyatt Visa, have registered for the promo, and stay by the end of July you’ll even get 20% of those points rebated back.

Interestingly I made a test booking and the resort fee is disclosed when booking an award night.

My confirmation e-mail included the resort fee in the room cost breakdown as well.

Separately, the 21 day cancellation policy was striking — as well as the two-night penalty (especially on a one night booking, hah!).

Resort fees do always apply on cash and points award nights as well, although cash and points have become very rare entities at the Andaz Maui unfortunately. (Here’s how hotels choose whether or not to make cash and points awards available.)

Another point of confusion is that the resort fee would be applied retroactively (to reservations made before this policy went into effect). There are reports that already-booked rooms now have the resort fee appearing on their reservations. The resort fee will not be applied on already-booked reservations made prior to the new policy.

  • There is a long-standing Hyatt IT glitch that shows updated rates in several situations, although these rates aren’t actually charged.
  • Hyatt confirms that the Andaz will not be trying to assess resort fees for bookings made prior to the new policy.

The most important thing is to know about the fees so that you can mentally factor them into the rate and make informed comparisons when deciding where to stay. Resort fees are offensive precisely because they hide this total cost.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Customers have to continue to complain and make noise about these fees. They are outrageous. The reason somebody stays at the Andaz Maui is the property is a resort. In vegas a few years ago I was staying at Mandalay Bay. When I paid the resort fee at checkin they told me the great amenities. I went to use the gym (I have used the gym there and it is nice. Daily fee at least 25.00 for non guests) I figured Ill drink a bunch of FREE juice, water and fruit while I was there. I was wrong. I was told my resort fee did not cover that gym but I could go in the basement where they took a small crappy empty room , added a few treadmills and bikes with a tiny weight rack and called it the FREE GYM. $40.00 a day is one of the highest I have heard.

  2. Wow, if those were free beforehand then this may be the best resort ever. However, someone planning to stay at the resort rather than going off-site could make out like a bandit…you’d break even on a single outfitter tour for one person and $40 for an all-day rental on any of the equipment is a great price (especially for couples and families). IMO, well worth it for a few days taking advantage of resort amenities. Then stay somewhere else for the day-long adventures off-site 😉

  3. I have a 3 night stay in October booked on points and booked prior to the fee being implemented. Assuming they won’t try to charge me the resort fee per this post. But what amenities will be included for our stay? How will they know that we paid the fee or not if we go to SUP yoga (for example)?

  4. “A resort fee worth celebrating!” I don’t think I’ve celebrated a new hotel fee before!

  5. I have yet to stay at a property with a so-called “resort fee.” They are just lying about their prices, and I figure of they will try to take advantage of me that way, they will probably try to cheat me in other ways too. Scoundrels indeed. I still haven’t figured out why this is even legal.

  6. I agree that these fees are nothing more than bait and switch, potentially illegal, certainly unjustified, and I agree that we need to make noise about them until they go away. What really bothers me is how bad for business they are – like DaveS, I will never stay at a hotel that charges a fee on top of the rate for staying at the hotel. It is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

  7. Aloha. As an Andaz we strive to listen to our guests and evolve to their needs and wants. Since opening in 2013 one of the comments we keep hearing is that people don’t want to be “nickle and dimed” throughout their stay. We want our guests to arrive a visitor and depart a local and we’re excited to launch a resort fee experience like no other. Guests won’t just get local calls and wifi, they’ll receive beach activities, cultural experiences, fitness classes and the tools to capture your Maui memories. We already offer an array of included amenities but the posted list above are new or offerings that were available but with an additional charge. We estimate the value at about $350+ per person, per day, if a guest takes advantage of the offerings (full list of inclusions can be seen here >> http://maui.andaz.hyatt.com/en/hotel/our-hotel/resort-fee-policy.html.

    The resort fee is also not retroactive. Those who have current reservations will not be charged a resort fee. They can opt in to have full access, but that’s a personal decision.

  8. @Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort – I believe you are missing my point. If your resort is improving, and offering more to guests, be honest and build it into the rate.

  9. About 20 years ago I encountered resort fees at the Hyatt Waikoloa Village, which became Hilton Waikoloa Village. At that time it was optional, buying you a bundle of goodies like free kayak rental at the lagoon. You had to pick Yes or No for the entire stay, not day by day.

    It’s the same now, except that you have to pick Yes!

  10. @Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort –
    “Those who have current reservations will not be charged a resort fee. They can opt in to have full access, but that’s a personal decision.” How exactly are you going to implement that? Will you have an army of staff checking IDs all around the resort to see who has paid and who hasn’t? That seems pretty ridiculous to me. What about guests on award stays? Are you going to try to exclude them from these amenities since they won’t be paying the fee?

  11. For the resort activities the property will have registration initiatives in place to check room name/numbers. If a guest who booked their trip before April 2nd and has decided not to opt into the resort fee experience would like to participate (in say a yoga class) a room charge will be added.

  12. But you didn’t answer the more important question (at least in the context of most readers here): What about guests on award stays? Are you going to try to exclude them from these amenities since they won’t be paying the fee?

  13. Andrew it’s not that hard. At check in they can see when the reservations were made. They can then notate the reservation so employees can confirm if you are or are not paying the resort fee.

  14. @Jim, yes I find it very hospitable and welcoming to be asked my room number at every interaction with hotel staff to determine if they can bill me. That’s really what I’m looking for when staying at an vacation-centric hotel… not.
    Of course that part is EASY – that’s not the point at all.

  15. Is it safe to sign up for any hotel credit now? I’m afraid once I sign up, the credit card may pull a Club Carlson and take back it’s benefits or add additional charges like these resort chargers.
    What’s a must have go to hotel credit card?
    Thanks

  16. Shame on you Andaz. I really enjoyed my stay there a couple months ago but $30 parking and $40 resort fee is a rip off together. Won’t come back on those terms.

  17. Any mandatory charge should be part of the room rate. Period.

    Why can’t they make the resort fee package optional!

  18. This is crap. Stay at the Fairmont down the road. It’s a great place to spend the credit card sign up bonus, breakfast is included and they don’t tack on insulting fees. You can also park your own car if you want.

  19. the resort fee is ‘worth’ $350, though no one will be able to do all of those things or would want to and of course there won’t be availability to do many of those things.

    and this amazing package doesn’t include the one thing we wish it all did: parking!

    but that’s all beside the point, it is part of the room rate so hiding the ball as a resort fee is dishonest. “other properties do it” isn’t a defense. the andaz did not, now they do.

  20. Hello poster from Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, thanks for responding to some of the comments. But to reiterate the point already made, it’s not a question of value. It’s a question of being up front. If the “Resort Fee” is a mandatory nightly charge, then it should just be included in the nightly rate. It should not be that you show a rate of $425 per night, then later add that, by the way, there is an additional mandatory charge of $40 per night. Just be up front and say the room is $465 per night. It’s more honest and forthcoming.

    Of course, I suspect you already know that. I suspect that the reason places like to quote a nightly price and then add on a “resort fee” is the same reason merchants often price things ending with “99” – it looks cheaper because we see “$2.99” and in our mind we think “two bucks”, instead of the essentially $3 it really is. (Or something along those lines.)

    So when you break out part of the nightly charge and call it a resort fee, it allows you to enter a potential customer’s mind at a lower price ($425 instead of $465). You might reply by pointing out that you fully disclose the additional charge during the booking procedure (I assume your establishment does a good job of disclosure, but not all do), but of course that would still miss (or avoid) the point. You have already partially hooked them with the (wholly illusory) lower rate.

    What a hotel decides to break out from the true nightly charge and call a “resort fee” is totally within it’s discretion. There is really no reason (since you say the “resort fee” has a value of $350) that you couldn’t quote a price of $315 a night, and later in the booking process disclose a “resort fee” of $150 (except that it would make potential customers even more irritated). Or even a lower quoted nightly price with a correspondingly higher nightly resort fee. Though these higher “resort fee” breakout examples might highlight the dubiousness of the approach, there is really no difference at $40, or even $20.

    In addition, there is really no reason this breakout practice must be limited to so-called resort fees. We can make the example as reasonable or as silly as we’d like, but if it involves a charge for something that cannot be avoided the end result is the same: the nightly room charge is unavoidably higher than the “teaser” rate.

    Good faith, fair dealing would simply be that if a charge is nightly and unavoidable, it should be quoted as part of the nightly rate. And the converse: if there is no way to actually get a quoted nightly rate (because of unavoidable add-ons), you shouldn’t quote that illusory nightly rate to begin with. Don’t you think?

  21. I really, REALLY, hope that this not a hotel industry trend that will become more prevalent worldwide over the coming years. I was only aware that these “resort fees” existed in Vegas and to be honest have decided not to pull the trigger on a few Vegas trips over the past few years SOLELY because of them. Now, I have to pay more close attention to my reservations in other parts of the world, in case they’re in the fine print? Wow, not fun, or a good use of time reading all those reservations.

    Is it just me or does the “resort fee” seem like the hotel industry’s answer to the airline industry’s “fuel/carrier surcharge”? It seems that many of the premises are the same. And although they’re not charging them on award bookings now, what stops Andaz from changing that policy in the future? Just the thought of that scares me and I’ll take my money elsewhere if they do. Oh, and by the way, poster from “Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort”, if you believe that they’re such a good value (offering $350+ daily value for only $40), why not make them optional? Obviously, if what you’re claiming is true, it’s an easy sell anyway and people would be foolish not to accept the offer.

  22. I just returned from a week at 5-star hotels in Hawaii and specifically avoided ones with resort fees. The list of the Andaz’s inclusions is impressive…for guests who want to use them. For me, I would *maybe* use the GoPro rental on my scuba dives, but not if I had to pay an extra $40 PER NIGHT.

    Compare Andaz’s $40 resort fee to that of the Koa Kea on Kauai, which charges $26 fee. That *includes* unlimited valet parking, watersports rentals, WiFi, beach setup, and use of a departures lounge (all stuff a guest may actually use, instead of frivolities).

  23. I enjoyed my stay. That being said it was not a value. In particular the “resort fee”. It’s a hotel resort. The room rate should include this fee. Lord knows they charge extra for everything else. I would have recommended them but I won’t now until this fee goes away

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