Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How I tried to outwit the St Regis New York $50 ‘Daily Destination Fee’

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

I spent three nights last week at St Regis New York.  Whilst I used 60,000 Marriott Rewards points per night, the hotel was selling for $1,100 + tax per night for a standard room.  This seems to be their normal peak rate looking at busy weeknights over the next few weeks.

I was lucky to be upgraded to a 100 sq m suite, selling for $2,800 + tax per night.  A review of that will follow next week.

Yes, despite this pricing, St Regis New York has jumped on the ‘resort fee’ / ‘Daily Destination Fee’ bandwagon.  

Whilst this sort of behaviour is illegal in the UK, it is rampant in US resorts and has now spread to New York.  Irrespective of the rate you agree on booking, although if you book direct it is clearly flagged on the website, when you arrive you are told there is a compulsory $50 + tax per room ‘Daily Destination Fee’.  To quote from the card I was given:

“Our Daily Destination Fee includes experiences and offers designed to enhance your stay in New York City:

  • $50 per day Food & Beverage Credit (excludes mini bar) and
  • $50 per day Laundry or Dry Cleaning Credit and
  • $25 per day Fodera Hair Salon Credit (excludes manicures) and
  • Complimentary High Speed Internet Access, Unlimited Local, Long Distance and International Calls and
  • Two Museum Tickets per day to either MoMA or The Metropolitan Museum of Art”

Two of these five ‘offers’ should be immediately ignored.  Manicures, excluded from the hair salon offer, are the only thing the salon offers for under $50.  Marriott offers free internet in all hotels globally to anyone who books direct.

It is important to note that the credit cannot be rolled over from day to day.

I was determined to get full value for this forcibly extracted fee.  How did I do?

St Regis New York Daily Destination Fee

Day 1:

Here was my first surprise.  The $50 Daily Destination Fee runs on calendar days whilst your stay will usually run from, say, 2pm to 11am.

This means that you don’t get any credit for spend on the day you check out.  So:

you need to spend $50 on the day you check in, which if you’re flying from the UK is likely to be late evening so you don’t have much time

you can’t use it towards breakfast on your final morning, because charges on check-out day do not count

I wasn’t to be beaten though.  I headed down to the King Cole Bar after checking in and ordered a $20 glass of wine and a $28 plate of lobster-filled potato skins, below.  $50 credit extinguished.  The credit is offset against the total bill including tax and gratuities.

King Cole Bar St Regis New York food

Day 2:

If you were suitably sad, you could bring some laundry over from the UK in order to fully use your $50 daily laundry or dry cleaning credit, but I didn’t.  However, I purposely only packed one spare shirt for the four days.

After breakfast (free due to my Marriott Platinum Premier status, so I didn’t need to use my $50 food and beverage credit for it) I made up a laundry bag and sent my shirt from the previous day off for a same-day wash and iron.  $19 of value clawed back.

I was having dinner with a friend so I couldn’t use the $50 food and beverage credit in the hotel in the evening.  I decided to have a lunch in the hotel instead, ordering room service mid-afternoon whilst doing an email tidy-up before everyone in the UK went home.  My lobster roll came in at $28 plus $8 room service charge + 18% compulsory tip + taxes, offset by the $50 credit.  Bargain.

St Regis New York Daily Destination Fee

I then messed up.  I had planned to hit the Museum of Modern Art which is just two blocks away. However, in the city that never sleeps, MOMA goes to bed at 5.30pm and I had left it too late for Day 2.

I checked out the hairdressers but at $75 and upwards for a gents cut the $25 credit I was allowed to claim did not seem like a bargain.

Day 3:

After my free breakfast (which, given that the welcome glass of orange juice they give you is billed at $15 with another $9 for coffee, and that their premium omelette is $125, it needs to be), I sent my shirt from Day 2 off to same-day laundry.  Another $19 of value.

After lunch, I finally got to spend a couple of hours in the Museum of Modern Art.

I only needed one ticket but, as I was entitled to two, I took two and gave one away to someone queuing at the museum ticket desk.  $25 value for my ticket and someone else got $25 of value too.

With no dinner date, I popped back down to the bar in the evening.  A $19 glass of wine and a $22 plate of calamari, below, swallowed my $50 daily food and beverage credit.

King Cole Bar food St Regis New York

Day 4:

This was check-out day.  As I noted above, any charges you incur on your final day are not valid against the Daily Destination Fee because they count charges on your check-in day instead.

This would only have been a problem if I was relying on the $50 food and beverage credit to pay for breakfast, but I got this for free via my Marriott status anyway.

In total ….

Over my three nights, I paid the hotel ($50 + tax x 3) $171 in ‘Daily Destination Fee’.

In return I got two shirts laundered, one MOMA ticket (and gave another away), one lobster roll lunch and two ‘one food plate and a glass of wine’ dinners in the bar.

Now, you probably think I’m going to say “but I’d rather have had the $171 in my pocket”.  To a large extent this in true.

On the other hand, part of me was happy that I had been forced to spend some time and money in the hotel.  I probably wouldn’t have gone in the lovely bar otherwise, my lobster roll lunch would probably have been a Starbucks takeaway at my desk, I may not have got to MOMA (although I do normally visit when I’m there so that is less clear cut) and I would have been looking a bit scruffier without a freshly washed and ironed shirt each day.

If the hotel was still offering 3,000 Marriott Rewards points per night on top as part of the fee, which it was last year before it started cutting back, the return on my $50 would actually have been good value.

If I had been here with someone else, I would have got more value from the MOMA tickets – because we would have used two, worth $50 – and we would probably have used the full $50 daily laundry and dry cleaning credit.  We may even have got to the Metropolitan Museum as well.  On that basis we’d probably have turned a profit.

I should add that, if you don’t have Marriott Platinum or higher status, using the $50 food and beverage credit for breakfast is well worth it – except on your last day when it won’t count.  The breakfast room is lovely and it is 100% a la carte waiter service.  You may even feel grateful that you were effectively forced into it.

Of course the real point ….

…. is that it is ludicrous that a hotel which routinely charges $1,100 + tax for a standard room on a busy night, and rarely less than $800 + tax, feels the need to mess about like this for the sake of $50.  The hit to their image, and the staff time needed to adjust every single guest bill, surely can’t justify it.

But what did I actually think of St Regis New York?

Good question!  Look out for my review next week.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (142)

  • David Passmore says:

    Many may argue that if you can afford (or willing) to pay over $1100+tax per night for a room, the ‘destination fee’ is just a drop in the ocean.

    If guests are paying it and the fee is not compromising their ability to attract guests, then the hotel will charge it!

    Of course there are cheaper hotels in NYC.

    • Lumma says:

      NYC is a joke destination for hotel prices IMO. $250+ for a holiday Inn express in a less than desirable area seems to be the norm. That £300 return flight ends up not being the bargain that it first seemed. At least London has some value prices if you’re prepared to be flexible with location (such as cheap chain hotels near Excel when there’s no events on)

      • Chris says:

        And how many Americans/overseas tourists would know to check Excel when there are no events on?

        Every city is expensive if you don’t know it well enough to save many like you describe, and all cities have some great areas to save a few quid provided you know the area, tricks on transport and timing

        NYC is no different.

        • Rob says:

          I have seen the Ibis at Excel at £299 during World Travel Market!

        • Lumma says:

          If you just search London on something like hotels.com or on a chain’s website the cheap rooms in places like that will show up. Once you take out the hostels and absuloute dump hotels in New York you’ll struggle to get anything under $150 a night even if you’d stay in the outer boroughs or across in Jersey.

          Thank god for Airbnb or New York would be just too expensive

          • Rob says:

            I have stayed in New Jersey before. There are a lot of hotels within 5-10 mins walk of the waterside PATH station which is a non-stop 2 minute ride under the Hudson to World Trade Centre.

    • Frankie says:

      That’s not the point. It’s the principle of these ridiculous fees. Moreover it can end up being 30% or even 40% of the room cost of the cheaper rooms in Las Vegas for example. The Luxor charges $35 plus tax. You can easily get rooms there mid week for under $100. Rob was lucky to have food and drink as an option in the resort fee. Lots of times it’s just local calls, fast internet and gym usage or free local paper. All useless to many people. I always try to find something wrong so I can complain and ask for the charge to be removed, such as saying the internet isn’t working fast or some other general complaint.

      • BJ says:

        It is like an excuse to rerun the Christmas and New Year Gala fees every day of the year. There are choices though so the simplest option is to stay someplace that does not charge them.

      • Alan says:

        Agreed. I managed that at the WDW Swan as their in-room tablet advertised all the items you got as SPG Gold. I complained on Twitter that these were duplicating much of the resort fee and as a one-time gesture they waived it for 5 nights! 🙂

  • Billy says:

    I hated the St Regis New York.
    The worst breakfast I have ever had, served by the snootiest waiter ever.
    That was a few years ago, maybe it’s changed.

  • BJ says:

    “Over my three nights, I paid the hotel ($50 + tax x 3) $171 in ‘Daily Destination Fee’ ”
    …should this not be x4 for calendar days?

    A sandwich at starbucks (why people drink their stuff is beyond me) or elsewhere would probably have been more appealling than your lobster plates. They looked like the second light meal option on a longhaul flight but I appreciate pics can be deceptive.

    At the end it seems like you are trying very hard with a lot of ‘what if’ and while the points are valid, you and many others will travel alone.

    Enjoyed this article but a little surprised you did not pop out each day especially to give away the gallery vouchers 🙂

    • Mr dee says:

      No because the checkout day isn’t counting

    • Alan says:

      I thought Rob said checkout day didn’t count? They can’t charge a fee for it if they’re not letting you use the credit that day!

      • BJ says:

        Yes, thanks guys, misread that. So effectively it is a nightly fee except if they saud that then there would be a fuss over daily benefits.

  • bk3day says:

    Damn…Had I know you were visiting, this NYC HfP reader could’ve brought my laundry up to the StR! ;op Next time, if you have the time, please let us locals know you’ll be around.

  • Scott S says:

    I can honestly say that even if I could afford those rates, that are pretty much more than a monthly mortgage payment, I wouldn’t likely make use of any of those things.
    I’ve only ever paid for breakfast twice in a hotel and that was only because I had to spend $40 on food for an IHG promo. Begrudged doing that as it wasn’t much better than a free Hampton or HIX breakfast and I could have eaten elsewhere for half the price.
    Pretty much having to eat there to use the credit up isn’t something I like. I want to be out and about, not having to make sure I’m at the hotel at certain times to get my money’s worth.

    Laundry I’ve never done unless the hotel has a self service coin laundry.

    Those museums aren’t places i would really put on my bucket list and as for a $75 haircut, £10 back home 😉

    Each to their own on this but personally, I would try and avoid any hotel that does this. One of the reasons why I rarely stay in Las Vegas any more.

    • Andy says:

      Let me know next time you plan on going. I’ll hook you up at the Platimun, I’ll get you a good rate, upgrade to a 1200 sq. suite, daily free wine reception, no parking fees (which every major hotel charges now) and no resort fee
      a g Young at live dot co dot uk

  • Alex says:

    Very enjoyable post Rob thank you and bravo for getting use out of your resort fee, I think it’s utterly outrageous that these fees are imposed and a complete joke!
    So pleased I don’t see them here in the middle East or other parts of the world I frequent.
    The US hospitality industry certainly knows how to take us for a ride.

    • Rob says:

      Middle East hotels add a 20% fee though – 10% service charge, 10% tax – which is rarely shown in the headline price.

  • Barry Shooter says:

    The Metropolitan Museum in NYC has a suggested entrance fee – sorry I don’t know the current rate – but you can pay what you like.
    Personally in view of the fact that here in U.K. most museums are free I just give $10 for my wife and me!
    So not a great offer!

  • Trevor Gardiner says:

    $125 omelette? Something is definitely being extracted here of a urinary nature…..