(NPN) - If you're one of the millions of people who book hotels online, you may decide where to stay based on the lowest price. But buyer beware, that advertised price might not be all you're expected to pay.
We're talking about fees that claim to be associated with a so-called resort, even if you're not staying at one.
Lauren Wolfe booked a Key West hotel and was fine with the price but says she never noticed something..."I was shocked that after paying $400 online, I needed to give them an extra $20 in the name of a resort fee," Wolfe said.
A resort fee, otherwise known as a destination or amenity fee, can add anywhere from a few dollars a day, to hundreds of dollars to your overall hotel bill. "Resort fees that cost more than the price of a room," she said.
But what exactly is a resort fee? Mark Van Stekelenburg is a hotel industry expert. "Resort fees are a tool that has been created within the hotel industry for hotels to bundle a series of services or amenities," Stekelenburg said.
While you might expect to pay fees for access to things like day spas and fitness centers at upscale hotels, resortfeechecker.com shows some average-priced hotels are charging resort fees for a variety of amenities from newspapers to housekeeping.
"As long as the hotel discloses that these particular items are being added together and a resort fee is being charged, a hotel then is effectively disclosing," he said.
We reached out to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, which told us "80 percent of consumers say they're willing to pay resort fees if amenities are worth it."
And that hotels comply with FTC guidelines " to clearly disclose all fees before a room is blocked."
Wolfe says she didn't find it so easy.
"The hotel that I was originally charged a resort fee at has a mention of their $75 pet fee on their front page, but they have no mention of their resort fee on the front page," Wolfe said.
Wolfe was so upset by her own experience, she started a consumer website to share her tips on how to fight resort fees. "You can always ask politely at the hotel and many hotel managers might waive it," she said.
Nearly 47 attorneys generals served a subpoena to one major hotel group in relation to an investigation into perceived abuses of resort fees. The officials we spoke to tell us they're looking into more hotel groups as well.