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

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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.

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Comments (142)

  • Nick G says:

    Puts me right off going back to nyc…rip off as it is with the dollar now it feels like they don’t want guests

    • ChrisC says:

      Still plenty of good hotels in NYC that don’t charge these ridiculous fees.

      Was looking at one the other day and the resort fee bumped the total cost up by 25% and the resort fee isn’t included in calculations for the cash back sites.

    • swhostring says:

      @Nick G – It’s illogical to call NYC rip off because the $/ FX has moved against the £.

      I won’t be going back to NY as life’s too short, been there about 5 or 6 times and nothing much to recommend it vs time spent in SE Asia, Aus, NZ, Europe.

      Wouldn’t mind going to USA for the scenery eg Grand Canyon etc – & the food is great. Other bits: better alternatives.

      • Cat says:

        I’m with you there, the real Shoestring, I’m waiting for my friends who can drive to get to the stage that they can go on a 2 week trip without the kids, so that we can do a group road (and hiking) trip around the Arizona / Utah NPs.
        A couple of nights on the way there or back in NYC is always fun though. Round off the holiday with cocktails in Death & Co and a burger at Shake Shack, and I’m a happy bunny!

        • Rob says:

          Loads of Shake Shacks in London now and we have gained a Five Guys at the top of our road.

        • swhostring says:

          Yep like your friends, I kinda regret [not] those first 37 years when all I had was pretty girlfriends, travelling to far-flung places and no commitments, here I am with 3 teenagers & I’m 55! I should be 35/ 40 lol.

          5 years to go until we can get my youngest/ daughter into university! Then life begins again. Will progressively step up the tempo, eg she can take her driving test on her 17th birthday – worth the money – and that gives me an extra 6 months at our place in the sun.

        • Cat says:

          True Rob, but the Shake Shacks here aren’t a patch on the ones in the States. Google the ones in NYC and they seem to all be getting 4.3 – 4.4 average ratings. Google the ones in London, they generally get 3.5 – 4 ish on reviews, mostly reviewed by Londoners presumably, who are used to a lower calibre of burger and have lower standards anyway.
          Put it this way – I think I would go all the way back to NYC just for a night out at Death & Co after lining my stomach at Shake Shack again. I haven’t bothered with the London ones (too busy with those lobster rolls). Are Five Guys that great?
          The Real Shoestring – it creeps up on you doesn’t it? Celebrating my 21st birthday (for the 20th time) next month.

  • xcalx says:

    Resort fee ?
    Just booked a reward night for 30,000 IHG points and noticed the cash rate was including a 15% additional charge, no mention of a resort fee on the hotel page ( thankfully it’s a % and not a $ charge so should avoid it by booking with points)

    Rate Information per Night for 1 Room
    Fri 03 May 2019 – Sat 04 May 2019
    379.05 USD
    Price for 1 room(s) and 1 night(s):
    379.05 USD
    34.11 USD
    Additional Charges:
    56.86 USD
    Estimated Total Price:
    470.02 USD
    Taxes and Additional Charges
    Additional Charges: 15% per night not included in rate effective 3 May, 2019 thru 4 May, 2019
    Taxes: 9% per night not included in rate effective 3 May, 2019 thru 4 May, 2019

  • Mark Smith says:

    New York hotel prices are generally ridiculous, especially with current exchange rates.

    Last year we stayed at the Dharma Home Suites in Jersey City (Grove Street). Just a couple of minutes walk from the PATH station into mid-town or WTC stations. It still wasn’t exactly cheap but gave us a decent sized suite in a quiet residential area with easy access to the city for a relative bargain.

  • Macca says:

    In a city with as much variety as New York I do not want to be eating in the same hotel every day just to claw back a stealth tax, I want to be out finding little boutique places with better food for half the price, especially as I’m vegetarian and my wife is vegan.

    We visited IC Times Square two years ago before they brought in the resort fee, so that will do us for a decade. We’ll find other global cities until New York gets over this stupid habit.

    • flyforfun says:

      Agreed. Add on fees like this are just ways to lower the price when appearing on price comparison sites, but it angers the customer who then tells everybody else. I want to see an all in fee upfront.

  • David Dickinson says:

    It incredibly cheapens the St Regis brand when they charge fees like this. Cheap as chips!!!

  • TGLoyalty says:

    Sort of overthinking it

    Few drinks in the bar will use up the $50, don’t have to spend long in the bar before heading out for the rest of New York.

    A couple could use the $50 laundry quite easily.

    Museum tickets are good for a couple and easily given away even if you don’t want to use them.

    Salon credit is probably a joke for a man but might work out for a women as hairdressers aren’t so cheap.

    I wouldn’t have thought the target customer of the St Regis New York @ $800-1,100 a night was your average business traveller who would have issues claiming expense for F&B.

    • Rob says:

      They will cut away at the benefits though. Last year you also got 1000 SPG points per night, worth £15. Now you don’t.

      We could easily see the F&B or laundry credit or museum tickets go next year. My guess would be the tickets as that is a real cash cost out of the day.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Don’t get me wrong I think the Chartres are a joke and especially at hotels like these but just saying it’s not a bad return.

        Ofcourse if they chip away at the value it will turn even more customers off choosing them as a destination.

  • johnny_c-l says:

    This is such an irritating practice which shows a lack of respect towards the guest. Certainly a red flag to avoid hotels with these fees.

    I’ve noticed recently that Hilton Gatwick has added a £1.00 per stay service fee message when booking but it doesn’t appear on the total cost summary so maybe they are charging this at checkout.

  • Lee says:

    Thankfully Hilton do not charge the resort fee on award bookings.