Marriott earned $ 220 million in resort fees without proper disclosure, DC official says
Marriott International Inc.
and its hotels have collected hundreds of millions of dollars in resort fees from hotel guests over the past 10 years, according to the District of Columbia attorney general’s office, which is suing the company for what it says. claim to be deceptive pricing tactics related to fees.
Marriott hotels have collected more than $ 220 million in resort fees since 2012, according to court documents recently unsealed in the case. The fees, which are sometimes also referred to as a destination fit-up fee, can range from $ 9 to $ 95. The costs, which guests are required to pay to reserve a room online, ostensibly include amenities such as high-speed internet access and free bottled water at check-in.
More than 180 Marriott properties charge resort fees, according to the Office of District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine. Washington, DC prosecutors say Marriott is breaking consumer protection laws by not disclosing resort fees in advance, only revealing the additional cost during the reservation process.
A Marriott representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In court records, the company denied intentionally misleading guests, saying it disclosed resort fees before reserving the room.
The lawsuit against Marriott, filed in 2019, resulted from an investigation into the hotel industry’s pricing practices by attorneys general for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Other hotel brands also charge resort fees, and the Nebraska attorney general’s office has filed a similar lawsuit against Hilton Worldwide Holdings. Inc.
in 2019. A spokesperson for Hilton at the time told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the company was fully disclosing the resort fee when booking. A spokesperson for Hilton declined to comment for this article.
“If you’re from a hospitality business, you say, ‘We put all of these things together, you get great value,” said C. Patrick Scholes, accommodation analyst at Truist Securities Inc. “If you’re a client, you might say, “Well, I don’t really want it, but I have no choice. “”
The extra charges appeared years ago at beachfront properties and other resorts to cover costs such as free beach towels, but are now used by city hotels and others. places.
“Maybe in the minds of consumers and regulators, it’s become this backstory way to increase room rates without actually increasing room rates,” Scholes said. “The question is, is this misleading?”
Mr. Racine’s office says Marriott charges resort fees to keep its rates competitive with other hotels. In a deposition, a Marriott executive said the company did not include living expenses in the initial room rate because “it would put us at a competitive disadvantage,” according to court documents.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March, according to Mr. Racine’s office. Then the court will decide whether to give summary judgment on the lawsuit or to proceed to trial.
Write to Kate King at [email protected]
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