Hotel resort fees under attack as consumer group files lawsuit against MGM Resorts

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Anyone who has stayed in a large hotel has likely been charged an unexpected resort fee. It’s become a common practice in the hotel industry, but now a consumer advocacy group is fighting back.

Travelers United has filed a lawsuit against MGM Resorts, claiming its mandatory resort fees amount to nothing more than a deceptive way of hiding the true price of a hotel room.

Resort fees can often more than double the price of a room, making it impossible for consumers to compare hotel prices online, said Lauren Wolfe, an attorney with Travelers United.

“MGM is one of the only hotel chains in the United States where they charge resort fees at every single property, including Detroit,” Wolfe said. “I’m originally from Detroit. I love Detroit. Detroit is not a resort town. Why is the MGM charging a resort fee in Detroit? Because no one is stopping them.”

Wolfe said resort fees, which used to be voluntary and usually $20 or less, are not only mandatory but keep climbing in price almost every year. The resort fee at MGM Grand is about $50 a night, including taxes, Wolfe said.

The lawsuit claims the resort fee doesn’t go away, even when the extra services it supposedly pays for (like access to a gym) disappear.

“What we’ve seen in this pandemic (is that) the gyms have been closed or significantly had their service reduced, but the resort fee is still there,” Wolfe said. “You are clearly not paying for amenities. It’s clearly a way for the hotel to divide the price in two.”

A spokeswoman for MGM Grand said the hotel had no comment on the lawsuit, which was filed this month in Superior Court in Washington D.C. Travelers United believes if it wins in court, this could be a major step in stopping all hotels from charging resort fees.

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