Ridiculous: Marriott Hotel Adds “Sustainability Fee”


We’ve seen hotels with “resort fees” and “destination fees” become incredibly common, and we’ve even seen some hotels try to charge “energy fees”. However, these fees are arguably even more ridiculous.

Night “sustainability tax” of the Saint Louis hotel

A FlyerTalk user noticed that the Saint Louis Hotel, owned by Marriott Autograph Collection, has added new fees for hotel stays. Specifically, the hotel charges a “sustainability fee” of $ 4.99 per night. These fees are not referenced when the rates are initially displayed, but are simply added at the end of the reservation process, as part of the all-inclusive price.

There is nothing on the hotel’s website that refers to the use of this fee. Does this royalty go towards environmental sustainability? Towards the sustainability of companies? Towards sustainable employment? Towards that the investment company that owns the hotel can continue to maintain a private jet?

I decided to phone the hotel reception to confirm that these charges are legitimate and to ask what they are for. The front desk agent was super nice, but I felt he didn’t really know what to say:

Me: “Hello, I look at the rates on the hotel website and see that there is a ‘sustainability fee’ listed. I’ve never seen this before. Do you know what it is for?
Agent: “It’s… ok… uh… it’s a bit… uh… like… taxes…”

He was literally laughing nervously and obviously uncomfortable, possibly because he realized it was BS, and possibly because the staff hadn’t been given proper advice on what to say. when asked about it.

Why these hotel charges are shockingly ridiculous

Historically, hotels have tried to charge additional fees such as destination and resort fees for two reasons:

  • This allows them to display a lower price initially, and to increase the price during the booking process.
  • They only have to pay online travel agencies a commission on the base fare, not the fees

Destination and resort fees have been incredibly frustrating over the years for many consumers as they are unnecessary fees that are essentially meant to trick consumers into believing that the rates are lower than they are. Marriott was even sued for the charge and, in a settlement, agreed to start posting the charges more prominently.

It seems highly unethical to add “sustainability fees” without actually having serious sustainability initiatives and without being transparent to consumers about what they are. Most of the big hotels are owned by big investment firms, and I don’t think lining their pockets really helps sustainability.

Here’s the problem: A sustainability royalty, if done correctly, wouldn’t be the worst royalty in the world. Now ideally a hotel would use their profits for this, but in the worst case at least tell us what’s being done. For example, Skt. Petri Copenhagen is an independent hotel that charges a sustainability fee of approximately $ 2.30 per person per stay. And the website makes it clear what this is for:

As a hotel, we are jointly responsible for ensuring that the environmental footprint of our activities is minimized. By charging specific sustainability fees, we make our green efforts more visible to our customers and help them experience everything we do at Skt. Petri to achieve a green transition.

The proceeds from the royalty will mainly be used for investments in new sustainability initiatives in addition to the green efforts funded by our day-to-day operations. Among the new initiatives planned for 2020 and 2021 are the testing and development of a new power plant that, in the long term, will reduce our CO2 footprint and make us almost self-sufficient in locally sourced and sustainable electricity.

Hotel Skt. Petri publishes an annual report with a detailed account of its sustainability efforts and achievements. This allows all of our guests to track how the sustainability fee paid by them contributes to a green transition at our hotel.

Would I prefer the hotel to increase the rates by a few dollars and undertake initiatives with those revenues? Sure. But I see where the hotel is coming from, and I appreciate the transparency.

Meanwhile, the Hotel Saint Louis is adding a fee of around $ 5 per night, clearly in the hope that people won’t notice it, without an explanation of its usefulness.

At the end of the line

The Saint Louis hotel, a property of the Marriott Autograph Collection, added a new nightly “sustainability fee”, without any explanation of its usefulness. A front desk agent compared it to taxes, but it’s unclear exactly what those fees are for.

Has anyone ever been billed a hotel sustainability fee? Where do you think it ranks on the list of ridiculous hotel costs?

About Elizabeth Smith

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