Las Vegas is always an exciting vacation destination, and for many a big part of that excitement is the hotel in which to stay. The Strip and Freemont Street (also known as Downtown Las Vegas) are the two main areas in Vegas where people like to stay. Great deals can be found with just a little research, even in the swankier hotels on the Strip. Part of the fun of going to Vegas is getting a great deal on a four or five star hotel in a prime location on the Strip or downtown.

Those days may be drawing to a close, as most of the hotels in Vegas are starting to charge the dreaded resort fee. This is a fairly new practice among the hotels, and in the beginning it was just a few hotels implementing it, and the fees were relatively low, so you could still get a great deal on a hotel. However, it's becoming more and more common; in fact, more of the well-known hotels are doing it, and it can be difficult these days to find a decent hotel that doesn't charge a resort fee.

In the past, when booking hotels online at popular travel websites such as Expedia, Orbit or Hotels.com, the fees were very well hidden and it was almost impossible to know that the traveler was going to be charged a resort fee. Travelers would not realize that the resort fee had even been charged to them until they checked in. The online booking sites are MUCH better about disclosing the fees these days, so if you use online sites to book your travel, make sure you know exactly how much the fees cost and what exactly the fees cover.

Still, there are two things that travelers should be outraged about when booking a hotel in Las Vegas:

1. The resort fees range from ridiculous to downright stupid. A list of examples are detailed later in this article;

2. The fees are part of the overall charge, which means they get taxed, which in turn raises the final hotel cost even further. So what started out as a $50/night hotel charge ends up being closer to $70, which if you are staying 3-7 nights, wouldn't you rather use that money to gamble or towards a show? The casino still wins while still showing goodwill toward the customer!

Here are some examples of common charges that are included in resort fees:

  • Faxes – look, I understand that Las Vegas is a popular city when it comes to business conventions and corporate meetings, so a fax machine may be necessary for the business travelers. But most people there for leisure will NEVER have a use for a fax machine, so why include it in the resort fee? Why not just charge the business traveler a separate fee when he/she uses the fax machine? That person won't care, because it is probably getting charged back to their company's expense account anyway. Unbelievable.
  • Newspapers – this wouldn't bother me so much if it didn't mean I had to walk out of my room and hunt for the paper in the lobby or at the front desk. If the hotel is going to charge for a newspaper, can't they at least deliver it to the hotel room front door? If Holiday Inn can deliver a free USA today to me, why can't the Luxor?
  • Local and domestic phone calls – I don't mind this one as much, because to use the hotel phone is outrageously expensive anyway, regardless of which hotel it is. Having said that, in probably the last 10 years (and definitely the last 5) I have had a cell phone wherever I traveled, and have never touched the hotel phone unless it was to order room service, call the front desk or concierge, or call another guest staying at the same hotel. Even with roaming charges my cell phone was cheaper to use in the long run, and of course texting is always free.
  • Pool access – some Las Vegas hotels are known for their fabulous pools, but charging guests an additional fee to look at it? Give me a break.
  • Fitness center access – why not make this a separate charge for the 5 people who actually use it, or include it as part of a spa fee?

I understand that Las Vegas hotels are not the only hotels in the world that charge fees. There are several other hotels around the world that do it and have been doing it long before Sin City joined the club. Airlines and cruise ships charge extra fees on anything they can think of. But there is something slimy about a town whose very industry and livelihood is designed specifically to take people's money when they visit. The resort fees currently range from $1-$25 per night; why risk good customer service when the hotels know that money would be deposited into a slot machine or placed on a roulette table anyway? As mentioned earlier, the shady way they did it in the beginning left a bad taste in many travelers' mouths, which definitely put a negative mark on many of the hotels' names.

I love Las Vegas. It has always been and will always be one of my favorite places in the world to visit. I will continue to visit and I will continue to patronize the few hotels that don't charge resort fees and avoid the ones that do. But Vegas hotels in general are taking a big gamble on driving guests away if they continue this trend.