Revealing the hidden fees of Hawaii’s hotels

As we’ve followed Hawaii travel news since 2006, we’ve seen several trends. One of the more frustrating ones for travelers is ever-increasing resort fees and parking fees. You’ll definitely want to pay attention to these fees as you select your Hawaii accommodations as they can take a significant bite out of your vacation budget.

When you first start a hotel search and look at the list of prices, you usually see the price for a room per night. In most searches, that’s only just the start of what you’ll be charged. It’s not until you progress further into the booking process that you learn about the taxes and resort fees. For example, take a look at the screenshot for a popular Hawaii hotel, showing the base rate of $404 per night, but that’s only the start. Tack on the taxes and resort fee and you’ll actually be charged $505.83 per night. That’s $101.83 in taxes and fees! If you plan to park a rental car, expect to pay even more.

Let’s take further look into these taxes and fees.

Hawaii hotel taxes 

As of the time of writing this article in October 2019, the hotel tax rates are as follows:

  • 10.25% Occupancy/Transient Accommodation Tax
  • 4.712 State Tax

Combined, that’s 14.962%. For every $100 dollars for a hotel rate, you’ll pay $14.96 in taxes.

Resort Fees

Resort Fees are the most dreaded and controversial fees being charged. Some of them are absolutely ridiculous. I mean head-shaking, ridiculous fees that used to be considered part of your hotel stay. Hotels make a long list of items included in the resort fee to try to justify the charge. Some common examples are use of in-room coffee and coffee maker, local phone calls and pool chairs. What’s next? Water in the pool? Breathing the air at the resort?

We remember when resort fees were in the $15 to $20 range, if they were even charged at all. Now, it’s more of the norm for a resort fee to be charged and they’re much more expensive. Expect to pay more than $35 per night. Oh, and add taxes to that, too.

Parking Fees

Parking rates are another cost that very quickly add up to a substantial sum. Some resorts offer self-parking, which is generally less than valet charges. Some hotels only offer valet parking.

You don’t always need to get a rental car for your entire stay. In Waikiki, in particular, there are enough tour companies who can pick you up and airport shuttle services that are fairly reasonable, that you don’t need a rental car. Plus, the island’s public transportation is quite good.

Sample of Oahu Resort Fees & Parking Rates

We researched resort fees and parking rates for several popular Oahu resorts. Here’s what they’re charging.

 

Chart of Hawaii Hotel Hidden Fees

Notes:

The five-star hotels don’t normally charge a resort fee. Their rates may appear higher at first, but once resort fees are added, their rates are not that much more expensive. On top of that, the five-star hotels offer more amenities and a nicer experience.

Have you noticed any other hidden hotel fees in your Hawaii travels?

4 comments
  1. Hi – Thank you for the great article. I have noticed a sneaky fee with Marriott Hotels not just in Hawaii. I have 14 year old twins and when I book a room and add them to the reservation, Marriott adds an additional charge for them PER NIGHT even though the room says occupancy is four people. Therefore I would assume that the rate they gave me in my search would include them. FYI, I exclusively use the Marriott website to book these rooms. We’ve called and gotten it removed but otherwise we would have been charged that. It’s a hassle to call them each time. Has anyone else noticed it?

  2. Self-parking fees are the ones that annoy me the most. You want me to stay there, but I have to pay in order to park my car? Did you not factor in the fact that most guests need a car to get to your hotel? Also, most charge more for valet parking, but I still have to tip the valet driver? So why do I have to pay more to start with?

  3. I’m from Australia, We just arrived home a couple of days ago, stayed at the Ilikai. We didn’t pay any resort fees as this is more of a hotel/condo style accommodation. Yes there is a pool on site but not very big. We found the tipping a little overboard, I was actually surprised that I had to tip the barman for making me a cocktail, which was $13 ended up costing me $16. Also found when buying items at grocery stores, the sale price on the items is not the actual price as you get charged extra tax once you pay for them. In Australia our tax is already included in the items eg: if buying a t shirt for $20 that’s all you will be paying, not a extra $1 on top of the $20. When visiting Hawaii its a must for us Australians to take extra cash just for tipping and at times most of us are unsure who we have to tip. Apart from that I love holidaying in Paradise.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I’m American, so I’m used to tax and tips, but I can understand how someone from outside of the US would find our ways to be different. My husband is originally from England, so he too had to learn how to deal with taxes and tips.

      By the way, the reason that taxes are charged separately in shops is that sales tax is controlled by the individual states. Each state sets its own rate.

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