Hotels have taken a page from the airline industry. Fees are not only becoming the norm but are often "hidden."
That's why travelers should read the fine print on all written material from airlines, hotels and tour companies. The sad truth is that fees are not always transparent, and it is much easier to request a fee waiver before your trip than it is to dispute one after the fact.
Fees and surcharges are a major moneymaker for the hotel industry. U.S. hotels earned $1.7 billion from them in 2010; they are projected to make $1.8 billion this year, according to a study by Bjorn Hanson, chair of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University.
Before booking a room, call the hotel to ask about any fees -- and whether you can opt out. Here are a few of the more common fees:
Facilities: These cover usage of pools, fitness centers, tennis courts and other facilities or amenities, usually at hotels with "resort" in their title. These fees are seldom waived, even if you don't use any of the facilities or amenities. Parking and valet charges are also common add-ons at hotels.
Housekeeping/bellhop: Some hotels now charge guests for having their room cleaned or luggage transported by a bellhop. To avoid the fees, decline daily housekeeping service -- requesting a change of towels only every few days -- and carry up your own bags.
Room service: In addition to the cost of food, you may pay automatic gratuity (up to 20 percent) and a delivery and tray fee.
Bottled water: If you don't see a sign that says "complimentary," assume you will be charged for drinking the water. I've seen five-star hotels charge as much as $8 a bottle. Also be careful of purchasing items from the minibar. The restocking fees can give you sticker shock.
Luggage storage: Once free for guests, storing bags before checking in or after checking out can cost $2.50 to $5.
Internet: Using Wi-Fi or a hookup in your hotel room can cost $10 to $25 a day. Some hotels charge by device not by room, so using the Internet on your laptop and iPad could cost you double.
Energy surcharge: This charge is billed to cover energy use. It's especially popular in hot-weather states where air conditioners are a must.