Feb. 22, 2013 at 4:34 PM ET
"No resort fees" was the come-on for Caesars Entertainment hotels in Las Vegas for years, but they've announced they'll start charging the resort fees at some of Sin City's most popular resorts, as a convenience for their customers.
The group has announced it will start charging a resort fee at its Las Vegas properties, including Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood, Bally’s, Rio, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Flamingo and The Quad.
The new charge, which will be tacked onto bookings made on or after March 1, amounts to $10-$25 a day depending on the property and covers Internet access, local calls and fitness center usage, said Gary Thompson, a spokesman for Caesars Entertainment. Guests cannot opt out of the fee, which will be added automatically to the bill.
“Obviously, it’s going to upset some people, but it’s what’s happening in the industry. It’s a standard in the industry right now and I’m sure they’ll become accustomed to it over time,” Thompson told NBC News.
Caesars Entertainment -- which used to be known as Harrah’s Entertainment -- has for years resisted charging extra for bundled services, at one point launching a Facebook page that asked visitors to “join the fight against Las Vegas resort fees,” according to the Las Vegas Sun.
So what changed? Thompson said the company is responding to guests who asked for the new policy.
“We do a lot of surveys of our customers and most of them were, one, accustomed to paying resort fees at our competitors and, two, they wanted us to provide them with a package price instead of having the inconvenience of separate fees,” Thompson said.
That explanation is getting a skeptical reception among travel experts.
“If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell you,” said Janice Hough, a travel agent and columnist for Consumer Traveler.
“When it’s mandatory like that, it’s not for the customer, it’s for the (hotel’s) bottom line… it’s a way to make more money out of people.”
Guests will likely end up paying for services that they don’t use, Hough said. Most have smartphones, so they don’t need the in-room phone to make calls or use the hotel’s Wi-Fi to surf the Web, she noted. As for health club access, few people go to Las Vegas for the fitness center, she said.
Reaction to the new charge at Caesars was mixed online with one Twitter user noting that since Caesars charges for all amenities separately, he “would rather pay ONE fee.” Another Twitter user was much more critical, writing “the world is ending, just found out Caesars is adding resort fee… stupid move.”
Hough called the resort fee “pure profit” for hoteliers. Indeed, U.S. hotels collected a record $1.95 billion in fees and surcharges last year, according to estimates by the Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management at New York University. Most extra charges are highly profitable, the school found.
In Las Vegas, resort fees abound, with many of the best-known hotels – including Bellagio, Cosmopolitan, Luxor and Mandalay Bay -- already charging them, according to Vegas.com. Most of the fees cover Internet access, local calls and fitness center usage. Some also include amenities such as daily newspaper delivery and airline boarding pass printing.
Travelers hate resort fees, but are resigned to pay them, Hough said.
“People are not happy about it, but they’re not unhappy enough to cancel their trip over it. That’s what hotels know and that’s what they can get away with,” she noted.