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243 thoughts on “Nickle-And-Dimed To Death | Hawaii Visitors Reeling”

  1. I thought I’d look up a place we used to own in Palm Springs, which has a much lower cost of living than anywhere in Hawaii. I also know the costs of vacationing in San Diego have skyrocketed recently. It is a 1300 sqft home and is simple to maintain. We never used it as a rental.

    The cost for 3 nights is $1977. Host fee $659, Admin fee $132, Cleaning fee $527, Service fee $315 for a total of $1,633, so nearly the cost of the ‘rental’.

    Just wanted to point out that this situation is not just happening in Hawaii.

    1. Hi Peg

      Thanks for that perspective. We’re finding the same situation in terms of costs when planning a trip to Europe later this summer.


  2. Cleaning fees are set and collected by the host, not VRBO. An average price of $175-250 has been the norm for at least 5 years, and is more related to labor costs.

    1. I don’t care who the fees are set by that’s still exorbit amount to pay to clean a one or two bedroom condo.

        1. It’s not a way to make more money. Many hosts pay *more* to their cleaners than what they charge their guests, not less. They are actually losing money on the cleaning.

          Cleaners need to live in Hawaii somehow, which is no small feat these days. Prices for everything (housing, food, utilities, etc) are astronomical. The entire vacation rental industry would fall apart without cleaners. Not to mention that vacation rental cleaning and laundry is a lot of hard, hours-long, exacting work – much different than a normal cleaner.

          1. Visitors usually look at the total price of accommodations. If they like it and can afford it, they book it. It doesn’t really matter to them what the price is made up of – taxes, fees, cleaning, etc. It’s the bottom line that they look at. The ones who care about the individual fees simply don’t travel, I guess, since most accommodations “Nickel and Dime you to death”, including hotels.

          2. I do think that the fees become important to lots of people when they almost double the cost of the per night listing.

          3. Not when the total amount is acceptable. It’s futile to get so hung up on this.

            If it was required that there be no fees, what do you think would happen? The accommodation would simply raise their prices to compensate. It doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make any difference to the guest. Are people hoping that if they complain about fees enough, they will be removed and the total price will go down? That’s a pipe dream.

            It’s all “funny money”.

          4. PatG the problem with all the fees is that they are often times not disclosed until you get to payment. When searching for spaces to rent, the base price is listed. If all fees were disclosed during the search then I agree the cost is the cost.

          5. It’s not true anymore though, Chris. Most platforms have a “Display Total Price” option on the first page that you can now select, and then the total pre-tax price for the stay is what is shown in the initial search results. See the Airbnb main search page for an example of this option.

  3. Here’s a brief idea why we chose Europe. A VRBO low dollar condo:

    $185.00 x 9 nights
    Cleaning Fee
    Service Fee
    State- Hawaii
    General Sales and Use Tax
    Accommodations Tax
    General Sales and Use Tax
    County- Kauai
    Accommodations Tax
    General Sales and Use Tax
    General Sales and Use Tax

    1. Gary B,

      I have not used VRBO before, but reaction to your breakdown is:
      1) Why is the cleaning fee so expensive? It is like 3 times what I pay to get my 2BR apartment cleaned in LA.
      2) What is the “service fee” for, and who get that?

      1. VRBO/AirBnB as well as others charge this fee, many times to both landlord and renter. Cleaning fees have always been high by mainland standards. I believe it took a jump during covid due extensive additional cleaning, but like many fees, it never adjusted. Seems like it could be a nice living for cleaning crews. Our fees in Europe were from $75-$100 for a comparable size apt.

  4. I’m going to say that the best comment is the one that says all this “nickel and diming” yet we still have a 3rd world travel and tourism coordination in Hawaii.

    I think if the press ever bothered to let the mainland and international travelers know how bad Hawaii is dollar for dollar, and how much they are being taken advantage of, it might take a bite out of advance bookings.

    Not that I would want to hurt Hawaii, but how do you force the hand of our gouging government?

  5. Why should the hotels and resorts feel nickeled and dimed? Credit card fees are a cost of doing business, just like laundry, maintainence, and other operational costs. Clearly, their pockets are deeper than the tourists’.

  6. Rented condo on Kaanapali for last 8 year. Called while there to reserve
    For 1 month in 2/24 the same unit and quoted a 74% increase…$24,000 more plus more for car rental,food and restaurants. Will not be returning…heading to Florida for 1/3 of the price. Sad I love Hawaii but don’t feel the aloha welcome anymore.

  7. I understand it’s expensive to keep up on maintenance but someplace and airlines over do it. We go to Maui every year and stay in kaanapali but choose a place that doesn’t have all the attractions of a big resort like you mentioned in the article. Our last trip this year was the first experience where the employees seemed unhappy.there are plenty of free beaches and reasonable food places. Seems like the politics have taken over the islands and that’s really sad. It is the tourists are what gives them an income to live on.

    1. As the pent up travel demand caused by COVID lockdowns is satisfied, Hawaii travel demand will moderate.

      HI government will have to diversify the economy. It’s poor management to only rely on “dollars from the sky”.

    1. Where do they make their living? Manufacturing Hawaii products for export? Tourism, Defense, Healthcare top 3 “industries”.

      A lot of the economy supports those 3.

      Government policies need to support diversity in the economy.

  8. Hawaii is expensive. If you don’t feel lile you are getting your money’s worth, then by all means vacation somewhere else. There are way more than enough tourists here every single day of the year.

  9. My wife and I are in the process of scheduling our 50th Anniversary trip for next year. She worked for United and we started going to Hawaii in 1974 and we have probably been to Maui and Kauai 20 times or more. We loved the Aloha Spirit. We were good visitors, always cleaned up after ourselves and were not a “problem” visitor. I detect a real loss of the welcoming Aloha Spirit. It’s apparent (excessive hotel rates, excessive fees and taxes on accommodations and meals, Paid parking at Public beaches, etc) that Hawaii thinks they can make it without tourism. Agriculture is minimal now, Defense exists on Oahu. Without tourism, how will the residents pay their bills? I don’t get it. Help me understand the economics here.

    1. I don’t think it’s that the people here think tourism is unimportant,its that they think the people are replaceable. And in large part they are correct. Hawaii is so popular now and there are so many people that work from home or are affluent it seems like if 100 tourists get turned off by the lack of Aloha there are 1000 more to take their place. Its a bummer but I don’t think it’s inaccurate.

  10. Visiting the North Shore of Oahu and Pipeline Beach is on a lot of visitor’s bucket list. It would be nice for some of that accommodation tax to go toward a decent shower and changing facility there.

    1. You are correct but I would really be afraid of what it would look like within 2 weeks never being cleaned, serviced, or restocked. I’ve been stuck using a couple of Nasty, doesn’t even come close, facilitates on Oahu. Not all are that way,however, the ones that are will challenge you!

  11. Last time I reserved a room 3 weeks ago,I understood that it is customary to reserve a hotel with a credit card, no?
    Here’s a new one for you in the fees department.
    Please no! One of my favorite hotels, the Alohilani, now requires this:

    Please Note: Effective March 3, 2023, a credit card processing fee of two percent (2%) will be assessed on all credit and debit card transactions relating to hotel guest stays, and charges throughout the property.

    1. Mary – unfortunately the processing fee on credit cards is becoming more frequent everywhere – not just in Hawaii. Processing fees are getting higher as well and businesses don’t want to “eat” the cost of them any longer. Guests are going to be unhappy whether the rates go up to compensate for higher processing fees, or if they are “nickeled and dimed” having to pay the processing fee.

      I work in hotels (ironically in Hawaii from 1969 – 1983) in California and I see the same trend here. I, along with everyone else, do not enjoy feeling “nickeled and dimed” –

      1. charging the consumer to use their credit card when they cannot physically hand over a check or cash is just BS … it is the cost of doing business. So tired of businesses passing their cost of doing business to the consumer to increase their profit.

      2. I live in California too San! In San Francisco, the other pricey place to live, and I travel frequently but have yet to see the CC processing fee added to my bill. If small business owners need to charge because the fees are so high, especially AMX, I will gladly pay. But big hotel business? No thanks.

  12. I agree with “ALL” the comments that were written. That is the reason we No longer visit Hawaii. I know just stay home and go to places that do Not nickle and dime me. Sorry Hawaii you lose.
    Oh, I should mention that lots of the locals will be out of work, now Sad.

    1. It is a sad fact that people will be reduced in hours, some losing jobs. Once the building is near completion there’s plans to have plenty of employees flooding the newly available jobs market, most will be illegal immigrants. The Exodus to the mainland will continue, unfortunately, and the Islands will slowly become a Haven. Lower prevailing wages and employers sponsoring crowded living conditions will be the norm. Alas, Hawaii, I Once enjoyed your Heritage and People Well. Tomorrow the Burrow will sleep.

    2. The lack of Aloha is becoming more obvious. However, Hawaii doesn’t lose. It’s more popular here now than ever. It’s how the resorts can justify the continue raising of prices and the govt can get away with extra fees and terrible maitancece. It would be great if less folks came is it could spur change. But my home (Maui) only seems to get more popular even if the experience goes down hill.

  13. I, don’t agree with, recognize the right to charge parking fees for beaches and other County/State areas. To charge a Parking Fee And an Admittance Fee per person I Do Not. Nowhere that I have ever Vacationed has there been Both, unless the only place to park was on a Metered City Street. Hawaii needs more and more money to keep their social programs funded, a Balanced Budget Approach would correct this. Why raise prices continuously on Tourists to pay for the States Failed Policies and Overburdened Finances! Cut the unnecessary waste, stop Stealing from the Only Industry that You Have, Tourism! I know that I would never be elected to office in Hawaii!


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