Industry Update
Press Release22 December 2017

New York hotels add $25 nightly tax to stays near Times Square

A new tax coined the “Urban Destination Charge” is being added to stays in hotels that are near the popular destination of Times Square

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Visitors to New York should watch their hotel bills, as a new tax coined the "Urban Destination Charge" is being added to stays in hotels that are near the popular destination of Times Square in Manhattan. This dubious charge has been implemented by big brands who operate hotels in the area, namely Hilton, Westin and Marriott, and the charge does not appear on platforms like Booking.com when guests make the reservation, but guests are instead charged on arrival. They are told the fee is "non-optional", effectively making it part of the price of the room, but by eliminating this portion of the room price at the online booking stage, these hotels make these rooms appear cheaper than competitors, falsely driving up business to their hotels. Amenities such as internet, phone calls and food and drink credits are said to be included in the charge, but being that it is mandatory, guest cannot opt to waive these services.

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Guests have been complaining about the Urban Destination Tax, and it was first brought to light by a blogger atViewFromTheWing, and subsequently picked up by The Telegraph. This is a new practice for New York hotels, who seem to be following in the footsteps of their Las Vegas counterparts, who are notorious for sneaking hidden fees into guests' bills for everything from the privilege of staying in a resort (a "resort fee"), to mandatory tips per guest, early/late check out fees and even the preference of a queen or king sized bed in your room or suite. While many guests may balk at these hidden charges, which can drastically increase the price of a hotel stay, especially if a guest has reserved a room on special offer, hotels like Marriott are actually advertising these fees as something of benefit to the guest. A recent statement by a Marriott spokesperson on the issue of the Urban Destination Charge said, "As Marriott continuously seeks new ways to provide guests the best experiences and value, we are currently testing a destination fee at seven hotels in New York City. The per-room fee includes a suite of features that our research indicates guests value, such as food and beverage credits, exercise classes, access to free and discounted local activities; dry cleaning and enhanced internet and phone service." While there is no doubt that some guests do indeed want the option of paying for better internet or exercise classes, it is misleading to suggest that these features and services are available to guests when they don't have a choice in paying the charge.

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More information on hotels in New York can be found on TOPHOTELPROJECTS, the specialized service provider of cutting-edge information of the hospitality industry.

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