Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 | 4 p.m.
In case you have been sleeping under a rock or otherwise away from the Strip, resort fees are getting totally out of hand. Case in point: the MGM Grand recently implemented a $20 charge to guarantee guests a nonsmoking room—the kind of consideration usually offered gratis at motels along the interstate. That’s in addition to the property’s $20-per-night resort fee, which covers such perks as free local calls and Wi-Fi. And while profiting from travelers averse to smoky linens may be novel, the MGM is hardly alone in using fees to boost its bottom line. Last year U.S. hotels cleared nearly $2 billion in surcharges, and analysts expect that figure to rise in 2011. Resort fees in Las Vegas now range from $1 to $25 a night and have sparked such outrage that Caesars Entertainment has taken a page from Southwest Airlines: “Now entering a no-resort-fee zone,” a sign at Planet Hollywood reads. The other corporations argue that bundling common services is a convenience. And a few surely agree. But it doesn’t take a degree from UNLV’s Hotel College to see what’s at work here. By hiding fees in the fine print, resorts are able to advertise lower rates, hoping people won’t notice or mind when the bill comes. It’s a risky strategy. Particularly when you consider that, unlike the airlines, Las Vegas doesn’t have monopoly on domestic travel.