Restaurateurs and hoteliers constantly are in the improvement mode, either to capture a 5 Star rating, or to maintain that coveted classification. However, for the consumer even a 5 star rating cannot insure against some pitfalls. In the past, criteria for ranking was somewhat uniformed since there was a limited number of agencies evaluating the hotels, namely AAA, Mobil Travel Guide, and, of course, the well-known Michelin for international hotels. Now, there are a number of new ranking agencies and criteria for ranking is not standardized. MDM recently was a guest at one of these 5 star hotels and found several pitfalls that you normally would not expect from an establishment with a prestigious ranking.
Although we had confirmed reservations, a mix-up resulted in the first two days being spent at another hotel–which they did assist in booking. However, when we did arrive, our booking was changed for the first night, upgraded admittedly, but for one night, which meant moving at 5 PM the next day to another room for the remainder of our stay. The lateness of the move meant that we missed our ride to our dinner arrangements and had to take a hotel limo instead for an additional cost. Housekeeping was particularly abusive since their schedule for cleaning and our schedule were not one and the same. Therefore, we were met with great sighs and tut-tuts from the housecleaning personnel.
Another pitfall of this establishment and others as MDM found out and also reported by Consumer Reports® are the hidden hotel fees.
1. $4 per bottle water. Especially egregious since often it is advisable not to drink the water. At least, we found we were not the only ones that eventually imported a case of water from the local Wal-Mart.
2. Daily newspaper (automatically charged to your room and a fee you can only prevent by being proactive and canceling it at the front desk). In lesser rated establishments a daily newspaper is en gratis.
3. Of course, there is the minibar restocking fees which can run $2.50 and up, If you get a munchies attack, scavenge from the local stores and stock-up.
4. In-room safes. Again, often a freebie with economy establishments, this can be an additional fee charged to your room.
5. Amenities such as golf courses, tennis courts, may carry an additional daily charge even if you do not use them.
6. Baggage storage. Because MDM did not retrieve her luggage quick enough due to the room mix-up, the bags were stored by the hotel for 30 minutes with a $20 fee. Yowie!!!
7. Internet access was available for $14 per day. Also, the much touted business center was a closet with computers and billing machine to take your credit card for its use.
8. Package delivery fees. Have an overnight FedEx package being received you may have to pony up $2.50-$5.00 for the hotel to take receipt of it.
9. Tips for the staff. Valet parking can run $5-$10 each time they get your car and return it. Other establishments may include tip fees each day into your bill similar to a VAT.
10. Shuttle Service. Not always available and occasionally at an additional cost, especially if the airport is any distance from the hotel.
Some of these fees you would expect for budget accommodations, but for a 5 Star Hotel, it seems very tacky to nickel and dime the guests with these additional fees. MDM recommends that you check further into any accommodations that you reserve and remember not to let ratings be your single criteria in making your reservations. You can cut your costs by providing your own paper, water, goodies and so forth, but then again you may feel like your camping out rather than having a relaxing, luxurious experience.