I just got back from a really great weekend in Huntington Beach, California. This trip was kind of booked on a whim, and it was my first time traveling with my two babies (more on that later). While searching for a hotel, I was delighted to see that Kimpton had introduced new property right in the heart of Huntington Beach, the Shorebreak Hotel, a few months ago.
I was super giddy to book my stay there because I seriously LOVE everything about Kimpton, especially their Kimpton Karma rewards program. Since I am an Inner Circle member, I feel like I truly always have a home away from home when I travel, and I especially love checking in to see surprises like these (btw Shorebreak nailed my personalized preferences):
When I booked stay at the Shorebreak hotel, I got a fantastic $223 rate per night. Thanks to TripAdvisor reviews, I also knew I would be subject to standard taxes and a $27-per night valet parking charge (another charge that’s not my favorite, but I *guess* it’s justified… especially in a busy area like here).
One charge I did not expect to see on my folio at check out was a $25 per day resort fee. Of course, I immediately questioned the charge, asking them what exactly it included.
The friendly front desk agent went on to tell me it included an “array of benefits” including wifi, a daily hosted wine hour, a newspaper, in-room robes, etc.
Not for nothing, but the benefits described are standard offerings at a Kimpton. Again, I was super annoyed.
At that point, I pulled out my reservation confirmation email and asked her to point out where in the fine print it says I am subject to a $25 daily resort fee:
Sorry, but I take pride in reading all of the nitty-gritty “fine print” when it comes to travel reservations, and I’m sure that goes for most miles and points hobbyists as well.
I was 100% certain I was right in this instance, and I was not going to pay an extra $100 + tax. Nope.
Still, she made it a fight.
Then I showed her another Kimpton reservation email I had for the Surfcomber in Miami that clearly states I would be subject to a $20 resort fee per night:
Then she goes and says something along the lines of “oh, well the Kimpton reservation system hasn’t been updated yet, I guess. Next time, we can try to make a courtesy exception and waive the resort fee (!!!).
Uh no. There’s no next time. There’s now, and I’m not paying.
All of the sudden she was refunding me $100.
Hours later I received a friendly letter from the GM. Here’s an excerpt:
Thank you so much for your recent stay with us. I just touched base with —– from the Front Desk and she shared with me your issues regarding the Resort Fee. You were 100% correct! So sorry for the mishap and thank you so much for pointing out that this isn’t clearly stated on the reservation confirmation.
Although it was a friendly exchange (stern), It was a rather long and awkward conversation to be had. In general, confrontation is not my forte, but believed it was worth the fight because $100 is not pocket change to me.
Aside from that mishap, the Shorebreak is truly an awesome property, nested in the BEST location of Huntington Beach, where all of the action is. You’re footsteps from the beach, the pier, shopping, bars, restaurants, etc.
On the other side though, they really do need to work out some kinks as they transition into a Kimpton. Granted that this hotel has joined the brand in February, there were other areas besides the surprise resort fee that were not very “Kimpton” of them.
- There was no mention of the $10 raid-the-mini bar credit until I mentioned it. The check in agent said “Oops, sorry we are new to Kimpton, I keep forgetting about that”.
- I asked for a late check out (which is a complimentary benefit for Inner Circle) and they first told me that they were “fully committed” that day (even though they were selling every room type that day online). When I mentioned that, I was told “Oh yeah, I guess we can give you one hour later for a $25 charge”.
- Just for fun, my husband asked several hotel employees if they would go for a jog with him, since that’s also a unique Kimpton offering. Every single employee was clueless.
Either way, I am confident that the hotel will continue integrate the Kimpton image and reputation as time goes on. The true moral(s) of this post is:
- Always check your hotel bill. Always.
- Don’t be afraid to stand up and ask questions about what’s on the bill.
- Know your loyalty program and benefits
People like you and I, who live and breathe loyalty programs, are more likely to be aware of “surprise” charges and the breakdown of the rate. But what’s more unsettling is the fact that there are average travelers who are unaware and just pay up.
Then there are also those folks who “pay up” just to keep the peace. With that mentality though, resort fees will 100% be here to stay.
Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.