Why You Should Never Just Look at the Hotel Base Rates

I’ve been looking into booking a hotel for an upcoming trip.  My requirements are straightforward: I need a standard room at a flexible rate for 3 guests (with a roll-away bed request) near a specific location.  For my desired dates, I found a hotel that matched my criteria on Expedia.  It has a base rate of $225 per night (or $900 for 4 nights) plus taxes and fees. I called Citi’s concierge to take advantage of the 4th night free benefit.

Base Rate Was an Illusion

The call didn’t quite pan out as expected.  The rep couldn’t find the base rate I found.  She offered me another rate (~$240-ish) for a “partial ocean” view room.  This wasn’t a key selling point since I figured I am likely to get upgraded to the next best available room as an elite member of the hotel program.  Her quoted rate is higher than I liked, but I decided to proceed with the reservation.  Then she looked through the associated fees, and began quoting me:

  • There is a $20 “service fee” per night.
  • The room accommodates up to 4 guests, but there is an “extra person” fee of $50 per night.  I did not expect this fee.  I asked, “Does this cover the extra bed?”  She thought it does.
  • Hawaii has a 9.25% tax for hotels and an excise tax.  This is expected.

She put me on hold so she could book the reservation.  Moments later, she came back on the phone to let me know that the extra person fee is not the same as the extra bed fee.  The extra bed will cost another $50 per night.

Putting on the Brakes

At this point, I lost track of how much all the fees and taxes have added up to, though it was apparent that it was no longer the deal that I bargained for.  Just the extra person fee and extra bed fee already add up to an extra $100 per night, which is half the cost of normally priced room.  I asked the rep what the total tally is.  What I thought was going to be $1250-ish with taxes and fees for 4 nights has ballooned to over $1,600+.  That’s an average of $400+ per night.  At that price point, I could probably book into a decent luxury hotel instead.

I thanked her for her time but said that I am going to hold off on the reservation.  I decided to see if I can find other options that work out better for 3 guests.  However, I really should have known better than to just look at the base rates.  I should have priced it out to get a better sense of the total cost (inclusive of taxes and all other fees).  At least the next time I call, I’ll have a more realistic price point in mind.

I was surprised by how quickly the prices ballooned.  Has this ever happened to you when you’re calling to make a reservation? 
Source: Travel Gadget Reviews

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