One of the most frustrating things about selecting a resort hotel is dealing with resort fees. These fees, which are mandatory, but not included in the rate, add a daily charge at checkout for amenities that are typically included in the rate at many hotels. Because the resort fees vary by price and inclusions, it makes comparison shopping next to impossible. Hotels say that they’re forced to add the resort fees to continue offering the amenities to their guests while keeping room rates competitive.

Another problem with resort fees is that they’re often not waived for loyalty redemptive “free” stays, or for prepaid package stays. The fees are also not always disclosed up front when booking through third party sites or travel agents, leading to even more confusion.

A couple of the more glaring terms and limitations:

“Free Incoming faxes”: Free outdated communications technology while on vacation? Be still our hearts.

“First come first served”: Hold the phone. That might be acceptable for an “extra” amenity or promotional giveaway, but if you’re charging a mandatory fee for it, you should be able to provide it for all who ask.

“Per Stay”: The fee is daily. Benefits should also be daily.

“Complimentary”: If it’s paid for as part of a resort fee, it’s not really complimentary, is it?

One of the most popular areas for hotels to charge resort fees is on the Hawaiian Island of O’ahu. Below you’ll find a survey of the resort fees charged by the various hotels and resorts on the island. This list is by no means exhaustive, but first up, a list of resorts and hotels on O’ahu that do not charge a resort fee:

Halekulani

Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk

Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk

Ala Moana Hotel

The Modern Honolulu

Hilton Waikiki Beach

New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel

The Kahala Resort

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

As a general rule, resort fees can also typically be avoided by booking condo properties and midscale accommodations with the major hotel chains with off-beach locations.

Below are the per-night resort fees charged by the various hotels on O’ahu along with their inclusions. Editor’s notes are in italics.

Sheraton Waikiki $31.41 Tax inclusive

Wireless internet access in guest room (already free for SPG members booking through Starwood channels)

Self-parking for one (1) vehicle (Valet Parking for a nominal fee)

Unlimited local and 1-800 telephone calls

Up to 60 minutes of long distance and international telephone calls per day (cumulative both domestic and international phone calls per day, unable to carry over)

1 Liter of Bottled Water replenished daily (based on usage)

Adult Pool Floats (Orange bean bag adult pool floats on a first come basis)

Use of MP3 player featuring Hawaiian music, Portable DVD player with 8″ screen, and selected, newly-released Movies will be available at the pool on a first come basis. Guests can sign out for them. If not returned, they will be charged (Awkward and harshly worded disclaimer)

Fitness Classes

Resort Cultural Classes (Ukulele Lessons, Lei Making, Hula Lessons)

Collections of Waikiki coupons

Children 5 & under eat for free from Children’s Menu at designated dining outlets for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner with paying adult. One paying adult for one child (large families and single parents with multiples are out of luck)

Free 4×6 photo per room per stay through SharpShooter Imaging

Verdict: For domestic guests parking is the major value here; International guests will appreciate the local and international calling. Heaven help you if you forget to return the MP3 player.

Royal Hawaiian $36.85 tax inclusive

Wireless internet access in guest room/suite (already free for SPG members booking through Starwood channels)

Valet parking for one (1) vehicle

Unlimited local and 1-800 telephone calls

Up to 60 minutes of long distance telephone calls per day (cumulative of domestic & international calls; unable to carry over unused minutes)

Children 5 & under eat for free from Children’s Menu at designated restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner with paying adult (One paying adult = one free child meal)

6am-9am morning coffee/tea near the entrance of Surf Lanai

Historical/cultural activities (Ukulele Classes, Lei Making, Historical Tour, Hula Classes)

Seasonal (?) Beach activities (On sand-surf lessons, Talk story with the Beach Boys, On Sand-Outrigger Canoe Lessons)

One free portrait session and 4″ x 8″ keepsake by a professional photographer

Verdict: For those renting a car, valet parking is a tremendous value. International guests will find value in free local & long distance calling.

Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa $31.41 Tax Inclusive

Free high-speed internet access in guest room (already free for SPG members booking through Starwood channels)

Unlimited high speed internet access in select public areas (Starwood brand standard worldwide)

Self parking for one vehicle

– Parking garage height limit: 6 feet 5 inches (kudos: nice to know up front)

– Valet parking for a nominal fee

Unlimited local and 1-800 telephone calls, up to 60 minutes of long distance and international telephone calls per day

Children 5 and under eat free from children’s menu at designated dining outlets for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner with paying adult

Mini surfing lesson

Moana Historical Tour (M, W, and F only) (the self tour is really quite sufficient)

Ki Kilo Lani yoga class (daily)

Aqua Aerobics class (daily),

Collections of Waikiki savings booklet

5.00 USD discount on admissions to Iolani Palace

4″X8″ color portrait by professional photographer

Daily cultural activities to include: lei making, story-telling, hula lessons, and ukulele lessons.

Verdict: Some of the tangible discounts and free daily classes make this resort fee a front runner, particularly in line with Westin’s Wellness brand promise.

Sheraton Princess Ka’iulani $26.18 Tax Inclusive

High-speed internet access in guest room (already free for SPG members booking through Starwood channels)

Self-parking for one (1) vehicle (no valet)

Unlimited local and 1-800 telephone calls

Up to 60 minutes of long distance telephone calls per day (cumulative of both domestic and international calls)

Two (2) bottles of water in room per day (12 oz. bottles)

Children 5 & under eat for free from Children’s Menu in designated dining outlets for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner with paying adult (one paying adult per one child). Not combinable with other offers or discounts

Big Kahuna Beach Services (use of sand chair and fresh towels; whole fruit and water service provided three times daily at 11:30am, 1:00pm, and 2:30pm when seated in designated area on Waikiki Beach in front of the Duke Kahanamoku Statue, see Pool Attendant) (nice!)

Collections of Waikiki savings booklet

One free portrait session and 4″ x 8″ keepsake by a professional photographer

Verdict: Big Kahuna Beach Services are a particularly good value add at this across-the-street-from-the-beach property; especially at the lower rate than other Waikiki Starwood properties.

Hyatt Waikiki $30 per day plus tax

Two bottles of water

Coupons from Hyatt Shops, Spa, and Restaurant

A photo keepsake

Complimentary local, 1-800 and International calls (up to 60 minutes) per day

Discounted beach activities (beach gear and surfing lessons)

Local newspaper (Monday-Friday) pick up at the front desk (in the digital age, who cares?)

Complimentary incoming faxes (eyeroll)

Health Club Access

Resort cultural activities (lei making, hula and ukulele, Hula Show at the Beach Mound)

Reusable Hyatt tote (quite useful)

Guest request texting

Access to beach amenities (beach chairs and towels)

Verdict: Good choice for vacation fax enthusiasts; otherwise standard for Waikiki, International guests will appreciate free local and international calling.

Marriott Waikiki $30 per day plus tax

Fitness Classes Daily

Hawaiian Cultural Classes Daily

800 & Local Calls

60 minutes Long Distance or International Calls per day

Local Newspaper Daily. Language specialized newspaper available, first come first serve basis (if you’re going to charge for it one would hope to have guaranteed availability)

Enhanced High Speed Internet Access

One (1) Cup of Seattle’s Best Coffee, Tea, Iced Coffee or Iced Tea per day (perhaps double occupancy rooms can share theirs)

Photo Session with 4×6 Souvenir

Unlimited DVD rental (not a bad deal for international guests, most domestic guests will use their existing internet content memberships)

One (1) Chocolate Macnut Candy Amenity on arrival per stay (but the fee is per night)

Two (2) Mai Tai Punch (regular or non-alcoholic) per stay, 12 oz. beer or soft drink at Moana Terrace or Kuhio Beach Grill – No other substitutions (such a warm welcome. And again, the fee is per night. Pony it up per night)

$10 Off SUP or Surf Lesson from Kai’s Surf Shop, Ext. 7169, not combinable with any other offers

Rotational Activities Special Offer

Fees and services are subject to change at the discretion of the Hotel. Reservations required for Photo Session.

Verdict: Quite a few “per stay” inclusions here, although some of the discounts will come in handy.

Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel $23 per night plus tax

In-room high-speed WiFi Internet access

In-room PlayStation®3 Blu Ray console to play DVD movies and games from (but the TV is free: score)

Unlimited access DVDNow kiosk located in the lobby

Daily newspaper

In-room safe usage (wonder what the dollar equivalent value is there)

Local and toll-free calls

Keurig coffee makers (and coffee, presumably?)

Access to fitness center

Verdict: Ho-hum inclusions, but it’s a lower fee than many other Waikiki hotels.

Pacific Beach Hotel $20 per night plus tax

Wireless Internet Access (in-room and throughout the property – using own personal computers or devices) (so don’t ask to use ours)

In-house Fitness Center (open 24 hrs), plus discounted passes available to 24 Hour Fitness Super Sport Club

Self Service Business Center (open 24 hrs) – Complimentary Internet access, printing and copying services (crickets)

Use of Tennis Courts, Golf Cages and Putting Green (equipment included) (not bad)

Surfboard Storage: self serve locking surfboard racks with unlimited use during your stay (also not bad)

20% Discount for basic services at Laule’a Spa (fancy services must be excluded)

Children 4 and under eat free at the Oceanarium Restaurant Buffet with a paying adult

Local, toll free and 60 minutes of Long-distance calling to the mainland USA or Canada

Eco-Friendly logo water bottle, refillable at purified water stations throughout the hotel (given that Hawai’i must barge most of its trash to the mainland, this is great eco-friendliness)

Verdict: A little shy on value, but some of the inclusions here are unique to this property.

Hilton Hawaiian Village $30 plus tax

WiFi and wired Internet access in your room (WiFi already free for HHonors members booking via Hilton channels)

PlayStation® 3 access with unlimited movies and games (DVD Now card given to you at check-in can only be used in your specified tower. One movie/game can be removed at a time.)

Local, toll-free, and credit card calls (No access fee)

Hawaiian Cultural Activities (See schedule below. Please bring your DVD Now card to present to your instructor.)

Resort Audio Tour (Available at the Main Lobby Guest Welcome Center, Tapa Tower Tours & Activities Desk and Rainbow Tower Concierge. You must present your DVD Now card to receive an Audio Tour.)

Dive-in Movies on Wednesdays and Saturdays at sundown (See Dive-in Movie titles and location on your in-room television channel #5.)

Outdoor Morning Exercise Classes. Present your DVD Now Card.

One personalized photo postcard per stay from Xerox Business Services. Present your DVD Now

Hilton Hawaiian Village also lists the following along with the resort fee details under “Other Resort Offerings” although these are ostensibly not part of the value of the fee:

Access to Fitness Center

24 hour access to Business Center

WiFi internet access in all designated public areas of the resort

Complimentary daily newspaper available in lobby areas, Bell Desk and Starbucks locations

Digital USA Today Newspaper online at Internet log-in screen

In-room safe use

Village Experience Card with discounts/offers at our 90 shops and services

Chaise Lounges at our five pools (first-come first-served)

Live Entertainment nightly at Tapa Bar and Tropics Bar & Grill

Nightly Torch-lighting Ceremony at 6 pm

Friday Night Fireworks Show at approximately 7:45 pm

Verdict: Parking is notably not included. Benefits for families and international guests – U.S. Mainland guests won’t worry about entertainment access with WiFi included.

Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort $30 USD plus tax daily

One roundtrip on the Waikiki Trolley per registered guest, per stay on the Green Line (Diamond Head), Blue Line (Hanauma Bay) or Red Line (Downtown) (per stay again, although the fee is daily)

Wi-Fi, maximum of 3 devices per room

Local and international phone calls up to 60 minutes daily

Bottled water in room, 2 per day

Local weekday newspaper

Free breakfast for children 5 years and younger with purchase of an adult meal at:

Kani Ka Pila Grille at Outrigger Reef

Hula Grill Waikiki or Duke’s Waikiki at Outrigger Waikiki

Daily Hawaiian cultural activities

$10 USD discount coupon per person, per stay for a Waikiki Beach outrigger canoe ride with Faith Surf School

One Outrigger souvenir tote bag per room

Best of Oahu shopping and dining coupon book with savings at over 40 retailers (good that they’re not just for hotel outlets)

Coupons for discounted admission to area attractions

The Verdict: Waikiki Trolley is a notable amenity, although once per stay for a daily fee just doesn’t cut it.

The Ilikai $15 per night plus tax “Hospitality Fee”

Access to Computer Kiosk (dated amenity)

Access to Fitness Facilities

Custom Aqua Beach Towels & Chairs (daily use)

Daily Housekeeping Service (Absolutely not. That’s overhead for a hotel plain and simple)

Daily Newspaper

DVDNow (Unlimited movies & PS3 games)

In Room Coffee (& Tea upon request)

In Room Safe

Local & Toll-Free Calls

Shuttle Service (Waikiki to Ala Moana)

Water in Lobby (do you have to show a room key?)

WiFi Access

Verdict: Calling it a “Hospitality Fee” is an insult to the very notion of Hospitality. Hotel rooms are a commodity and amenities are services, whether value-added or for a price. Hospitality is a personal interaction that is a treasured gift – not a line item on a bill. And housekeeping is part of that.

Hawaii Prince Hotel $31.41 daily including tax

Daily Self-parking for 1 vehicle per room

Daily Unlimited Internet connections, In-room and within lobby and pool areas

Daily Two Bottles of Water per room

One 4-cup packet coffee daily

Amenity Package Upon Arrival (2 Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, Shaving Cream and Razor) one per room (but the fee is daily)

Complimentary Hawaii Prince Shuttle Service to Waikiki/Golf Course and Ala

Moana Shopping center on a daily scheduled route

1 Eco Shopping Bag per room per stay

20% off Hotel Guest Golf Rate per person daily (there’s a discount off an already discounted rate for hotel guests, all of whom already pay the resort fee?)

20% off Breakfast Buffet at Prince Court per person

2 welcome drinks per room upon arrival only. Choice of Domestic Beer, House Wine, Soft Drink , Coffee/Tea (don’t be too overwhelming, now – also, the fee is daily)

Complimentary Local and Toll Free calls

Complimentary 60 minutes of international phone calls daily per room

Verdict: Nothing too exciting here, which is surprising given the hotel’s less-than-ideal location.

Ohana Waikiki East and Ohana Waikiki Malia $11.95 daily ($6 for Hawai’i residents)

Internet Access – Complimentary Wi-Fi access is available in the lobby and most common areas of all OHANA hotels in Waikiki. Additionally, wired access is available in OHANA Waikiki East and OHANA Waikiki Malia guest rooms.

Local phone calls – First 15 minutes free. Call anywhere on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai or the Big Island.

U.S. and Canada phone calls -First 15 minutes free. Dial long-distance to the mainland and Canada.

In-room safe – Keep your valuables locked away in your guest room safe.

In-room coffee and tea – Make your morning brew with the automatic coffee maker available in every guestroom. Coffee and tea replenished daily.

Daily newspaper – Pick up a copy of the local newspaper at the reception desk.

OHANA beach tote – Handy nylon drawstring bag. One per room.

Access to the Waikiki Trolley’s Pink Line: The trolley routes around Waikiki on Kalakaua Avenue and Kuhio Avenue then heads to Saratoga Road near Waikiki Beach Walk, and to Ala Moana Shopping Center. Stops for pick up every 10 minutes! Your guest room card key allows two passengers, and is valid for your entire stay. Ask at the hotel reception desk for easy directions to the nearest Waikiki Trolley Pink Line stop.

Verdict: Similar inclusions to some of the larger resorts, but these are off-beach budget hotels.

Turtle Bay Resort $39.79 per night tax inclusive

Wi-Fi Internet access for in-room and public areas

Unlimited local telephone calls

In-room private label coffee and tea (available upon request) (but provided on arrival everywhere else)

Overnight self-parking

Business Center access

Unlimited incoming faxes (there it is again)

Fitness Center access

Complimentary Ukulele & Shell Hula Lessons (Tuesday, Thursday & Friday)

Complimentary two hour daily snorkel rental, two people per room

One-hour volleyball rental

One-hour tennis court usage per person per day (racket rentals are available for a fee) (so unless you’ve brought your own racket, this isn’t really an inclusion)

Complimentary 10-minute Stand Up Paddle Clinic *Available Mon-Fri 12p-2p, weather permitting (10 minutes? That’s about enough time for introductions)

Complimentary 10-minute clinic/lesson with a PGA Professional, (advance signup req.)

Complimentary use of Titleist Golf Clubs on our practice range when purchasing a bucket of practice golf balls (another “free with purchase” inclusion)

Live entertainment throughout the hotel’s food & beverage outlets, (special events not included)

Kids golf free and also receive complimentary rental clubs every day after 3pm on the Fazio with a paying adult. Valid for kids 17 & under.

Verdict: One might expect more for paying the highest daily resort fee on the island.

Have you had an experience with the resort fees and inclusions during your stay at an O’ahu hotel? Leave a comment below!

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