Andaz
The Andaz hotel chain, owned by Hyatt, bucks the trend of expensive minibars by offering free local snacks to guests.

Image: Flickr, Simon Q

Forget traffic jams, the Are we there yet?! whines, and bad weather.

The real headache for many travelers is a quickly-growing list of hotel surcharges, even for items they never use.

Guaranteeing two queen beds or one king bed will cost you, as will checking in early or checking out late. Don’t need the in-room safe? You’re likely still paying. And the overpriced can of soda may be the least of your issues with the hotel minibar.

Vacationers are finding it harder to anticipate the true cost of their stay, especially because many of these charges vary from hotel to hotel, even within the same chain.

Coming out of the recession, the travel industry grew fee-happy. Car rental companies charged extra for services such as electronic toll collection devices and navigation systems. And airlines gained notoriety for adding fees for checking luggage, picking seats in advance, skipping lines at security and boarding early. Hotel surcharges predate the recession, but recently properties have been catching up to the rest of the industry.

“The airlines have done a really nice job of making hotel fees and surcharges seem reasonable,” says Bjorn Hanson, a professor at New York University’s hospitality school.

This year, hotels will take in a record $2.25 billion in revenue from such add-ons, 6% more than in 2013 and nearly double that of a decade ago, according to a new study released Monday by Hanson. Nearly half of the increase can be attributed to new surcharges and hotels increasing the amounts of existing fees.

It’s small in comparison to airlines, which made more than $6 billion in 2013 for checked baggage and itinerary changes, but it will likely continue to grow.

Hanson says guests need to be “extra-attentive” to the fine print. Fewer and fewer services come for free.

Need to check out by noon but don’t have a flight until after dinner? Hotels once stored luggage as a courtesy. Now, a growing number charge $1 or $2 per bag.

Shipping something to the hotel in advance of your trip? There could be a fee for that too. The Hyatt Regency San Antonio, which subcontracts its business center to FedEx Office, charges $10 to $25 to receive a package, depending on weight.

Some budget hotels charge $1.50 a night for in-room safes.

Convincing a front desk employee to waive a fee at check-out is getting harder. Fees are more established, better disclosed and hotel employees are now trained to politely say no.

“It’s the most difficult it’s ever been to get a charge removed,” Hanson says.

U.S. hotels last year took in $122.2 billion in room revenue, according to travel research company STR. Fees only add an extra 2% in revenue, but Hanson notes the majority of that money is pure profit.

Some guests are revolting.

Royce Breckon travels frequently for his job marketing outdoor sporting equipment but refuses to spend the night at any hotel charging for Internet. Charges typically range from $10 to $25 a night.

“You can walk into just about any coffee shop and have it for free,” Breckon says.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association says fees are common in the travel business and that its members disclose them at the time of booking.

Hotels first started adding surcharges in 1997, mostly at resorts with expansive pools, tennis courts and fancy gyms. The so-called resort fees paid for staff to set up beach umbrellas and lounge chairs. Three years later, hotels added energy surcharges to cover rising utility bills.

Hotels then refrained from adding any major surcharge for several years. But as airlines and car rental agencies made fees commonplace, hotels started to think up new ones, collecting record amounts in each of the past four years, according to Hanson’s research.

Even the in-room minibar – a decades-old splurge – isn’t safe from the new wave of add-ons.

At the Liberty Hotel in Boston a cold can of Coke from the minibar costs $5. That’s just the base price. The fine print on the menu reveals an 18% “administrative fee” to restock the bar.

Elsewhere, the in-room offerings are more conspicuous. Jimmy R. Howell was shocked by the W San Diego’s efforts to sell him snacks and drinks.

“Usually these extras are kept under lock and key,” Howell says. At the W, they were “strewn about” the room, above the bar, on the desk, nightstands and in the bathroom. “It seems like an effort to tempt you.”

Any traveler who has picked up a $9 bottle of water on the nightstand thinking it was complimentary will understand.

Even moving an item in the minibar can generate a fee.

The Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, like many other hotels, bills items to guests’ rooms if sensors in the minibar note they have been removed for more than 60 seconds – enough time, hotels say, to read the nutritional information and make a decision.

The Aria goes one step further. It also charges a $25 a day “personal use fee” if a guest puts their own soda or bottled water in the minibar. A guest in need of a mini refrigerator can have one delivered to their room – for an extra $35 a night.

Some hotels — primarily those on the more expensive end — are bucking the trend. Hyatt’s upscale boutique Andaz chain offers complimentary local snacks and non-alcoholic drinks from its minibars.

Hotels are also revisiting resort fees, upping the price, especially at the high-end.

For $650 a night, guests at the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort — set on a former coconut plantation in Puerto Rico — enjoy rooms with 300-thread-count sheets and walk-in-closets. But that’s not the full price. There’s a $60 nightly resort charge, which provides for a welcome drink upon check-in, Internet access, the use of beach umbrellas and lounge chairs, bicycles and a daily poolside ritual iced tea service that includes fruit skewers. Guests pay whether they use the services or not.

Other hotels are adding mandatory tips.

The Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda, which was recently charging $469 a night, charges a resort fee and mandatory gratuities for each person in a room. So two adults and two kids sharing a room would incur $48.28 a night in resort fees and $40.80 tips — adding 19% to the nightly rate.

And the fees aren’t limited to resorts anymore. The Serrano hotel in downtown San Francisco adds on a $20 per night “Urban Fee” that includes Internet, local phone calls, newspapers, morning coffee and use of bicycles.

Perhaps nowhere are hotels pushing fees further than in Las Vegas. Forget resort fees. Those are taken for granted there. Resorts like The Bellagio are learning from airlines and selling enhancements.

Want to skip the notoriously long Las Vegas check-in lines? That will be $30 extra. Want to check-in early? That’s another $30. Check-out late? Also $30.

And if you want two queen beds or one king bed, it will cost extra to guarantee your preference. For an extra — you guessed it — $30, the Bellagio will lock in three room preferences such as bed type, requests to be near or far away from the elevators, rooms on a high or low floor or the option to have quieter non-connecting rooms.

Then there was the fee Hank Phillippi Ryan, a mystery writer, faced while in town to sign copies of her new book “Truth Be Told” at a convention. Before heading to the airport, she went to the lobby of the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino to print her boarding pass. There a kiosk offered the service — for $7.95.

“I think I actually yelped,” she recalls. “I had never seen that before.”

Additional reporting by Mashable

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/08/25/hotels-fees/

Photo from where Remit stayed in Thailand

Photo from where Remit stayed in Thailand

We found this article by Remit Sethi and thought we would share a portion for all of you millionaires in the making . . . 

THINK BIG. If you tell me your dream is to stay at a Best Western in New Jersey, I am going to unsubscribe you from my email list.

When you’re brainstorming, think big. You can always cut down later. But for now, think big.

After you come up with something — “I want to go to Paris!”, get specific.

When I used to say, “Yeah! I want to travel,” I never did. There was no specificity, no urgency. It was a dream easily deferred.

Pick a date so you can start breaking it down. Notice how reluctant we are to set dates and specifics because, gasp, what if we fail? I would rather have you try and fail than never try at all.

How much will it cost? Really map it out. This doesn’t have to be exact, but you should know if you want a $4,000 trip to the beach or a $20,000 trip around the world.

Here’s an example.

BAD: “I want to go to Paris some day”

GOOD: “By December, I want to go Paris for a week with my significant other. I also need to find a significant other, but that’s another story”

Flight for 2: $1,600
Hotel: $2,000
Food: $1,400
Fun money: $1,000
(If you’re not sure where to find these numbers try here and here. Just approximate and add 20% if you’re not sure.)

Total: $6,000

OMG! THAT’S SO MUCH MONEY! RAMIT WE DON’T ALL SLEEP ON A BED OF $100 BILLS LIKE YOU.

Ok, this is where my training in breaking down big problems comes in handy. That’s a big number, but if you break it down, it’s absolutely achievable.

Let’s break it down even further and I’ll show you what I mean.

$6,000 = $500 x 12

One of the principles I realized when I earned my first dollar as a consultant was, if I can make $1, that means I can make $10…and if I can make $10, I can make $100. And on and on.

So — if you can earn $500 once, you can do it 12 times. And you’ve paid for your dream romantic getaway to Paris.

Let’s keep breaking it down.

How long would it take to earn $500? Let’s do the math.

You have a lot of options. You could:

Save all your change in a jar by the washing machine. At .50/day, it will only take you 2.7 years to earn $500. Which means your Paris trip is a mere 33 years away. Love you, frugalistas
Cut out your morning latte 5 days/week. If you remember to put that money aside, you’ll have $780/year and have a Paris getaway in a little less than 8 years. Except you won’t be reading my emails any more since you’ll have moved to a shanty town in South Dakota and ceased the usage of electricity. Nice knowing you.

Take $100 out of each of your paychecks. At biweekly pay, you’ll have enough in just over 2 years. This is reasonable and it adds up way faster than you think — especially when it’s automatic. (Btw, when people say, “I’ve already cut to the bone…there’s nothing more I can cut” these are the very same people who have never automated their savings. They don’t know what they’re talking about.)

We’re going to break it down further, because there’s another, even quicker option that doesn’t require cutting back. You can use the skills you already have to earn money on the side. And you don’t need that much time.

Look: To earn $500 you could…

Work 10 hours and charge $50/hr
Work 5 hours and charge $100/hr
In other words, with just 5-10 hours of work per month — that’s only 1½ – 2½ hours per week — you’ll have your Paris trip in a year or less.

You can also think about it in terms of clients.

$6,000 =

20 one-time clients paying a $300 project
Even better: 6 one-time clients for a $1,000 project
Best: 2 recurring clients for 6 months at $500/month

Notice how much easier this is. 6 clients? I can do that.
(Read the entire article on I Will Teach You To Be Rich)

A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep — in your luxury vacation rental, that is. The only question is where you’ll choose to lay your head.

Quit wishing you were a part of Disney’s world and make it a reality on your next getaway. HomeAway.com shared some villas, towers and even castles where you can fulfill your dreams of living like a Disney princess.

Live happily ever after, or at least for the weekend, in these rentals inspired by Mulan, Cinderella, Tiana and more.

If you’re suffering from winter blues and short, dark days are getting you down, then it’s time to take at least a virtual vacation and see some sunny pictures. To be more exact, let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful Infinity Pools Around The World. [Read more…]

According to Wikipedia: “An infinity edge pool (also named negative edge, zero edge, disappearing edge or vanishing edge pool) is a swimming or reflecting pool which produces a visual effect of water extending to the horizon, vanishing, or extending to “infinity”. One type of location in which the effect is particularly impressive is where the infinity edge appears to merge with a larger body of water such as the ocean, with the sky.”

The infinity pool design concept is said to have originated in France, where one of the first vanishing edge designs was utilized in the “Stag Fountain” at the Palace of Versailles in the early 1600s. However, they are often very expensive and require extensive structural, mechanical (hydraulic engineering) and architectural detailing.

1. Infinity Pool on 55-Storey Marina Bay Sand Hotel in Singapore

Bamboos for: marinabaysands.com | photo.gallery.youngester.com | photo-polygon | demilked

2. Infinity Pool in Bali

Bamboos for shurav

3. Infinity Pool in Khummala, Phuket, Thailand

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4. Infinity Pools at Ubud Hanging Gardens, Indonesia

Bamboos for Busyman Bicycles

5. Infinity Pool in Indonesia

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6. Infinity Pool in Philippines

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7. Infinity Pool in Dhigufinolu Island on South Male’ Atoll

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8. Infinity Pool in Mexico

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9. Infinity Pool at the Kia Ora Hotel on Rangiroa

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10. Infinity Pool in Windward Islands

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11. Infinity Pool in Acuatico Beach Resort, Philippines

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12. Infinity Pool in Izmir, Turkey

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13. Infinity Pool in Maldives

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14. Infinity Pool in Sardinia

Bamboos for Jon Juan

15. Infinity Pool in Tahiti

Bamboos for thelastminute

16. Infinity Pool in Turkey

Bamboos for Greg Marshall

17. Infinity Pool in Taiwan

Bamboos for Swan Ee (Super Crazy Busy!!!!)

18. Infinity Pool in Costa Rica

Bamboos for ankit

19. Infinity Pool at Ayana Resort and Spa Bali, Jimbaran

Bamboos for Str1ke

20. Infinity Pool in Racha Island

Bamboos for Subnet 24

21. Infinity Pool in Thailand

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22. Infinity Pool in Sri Lanka

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23. Infinity Pool in Indonesia

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24. Tat Kuang Si Waterfall

Bamboos for Many Moon Honeymoon

25. Infinity Pool in Greenfields Calamba

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26. Infinity Pool in Thailand

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27. Infinity Pool in Los Cabos, Mexico

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28. Infinity Pool in Cancun, Mexico

Bamboos for Abe K

29. Infinity Pool at the Hotel Villa Mahal in Turkey

Bamboos for cloudzilla

30. Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls

Bamboos for: i_pinz | SarahDepper

Continue to 21 Places To See Before You Die

report

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/infinity-pools-around-the-world/