Hawaii, federal regulators crack down on hidden resort fees

The Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection is investigating resort fees charged by hotel operators as part of a nationwide effort to curb hidden industry fees.

State and federal regulators are in the process of cracking down on hotels that charge resort fees without fully disclosing the charges to visitors, Hawaii News Now reported Thursday. The resort fees cover costs of hotel amenities ranging from use of hotel gyms, telephone services, access to business centers and other amenities.

"It's becoming more pervasive in the industry," said Stephen Levins, executive director of the Office of Consumer Protection. "And number one we want to ensure that the consumer is fully informed as to what costs are associated with reserving a room."

Resort fees at Hawaii hotels typically range between $10 and $40 a night and aren't usually included in the standard room rate on a hotel's website, but can often be found in the fine print in the company's online disclosures. The fees are mandatory at most hotels.

If the fees are deemed to be unfair or deceptive, hotel operators can be fined up to $10,000 per violation, Levins said.

Ed Case, an executive with Hawaii largest hotel chain Outrigger, said his company started charging resort fees about a year ago to compete with other hotel operators who are doing the same thing.

The Federal Trade Commission is considering reforms requiring hotels to include these fees in their listed room rates.