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The Ugly Side of Marriott’s New Home Rentals: Sky-High Cleaning Fees

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Marriott rolled out its new home rental platform called Homes and Villas late last week, a direct challenge to rental sites like Airbnb and HomeAway. But it's becoming clear that there's one area where Marriott just can't compete: price.

For starters, Marriott is contracting mostly with large vacation home rentals managed by companies rather than individual homeowners so you won't find many cheap one-bedroom apartments on the new platform. But we're also seeing massive cleaning fees that can drastically inflate the total cost, tacking on an extra 14% to a whopping 55% of the list rental cost to a reservation.

There's nothing in Marriott's frequently asked questions on this new service about cleaning fees. For comparison, Airbnb doesn't have a published ceiling for cleaning fees on bookings, though it typically ranges from 6% to 15% of the bill.

Asked to comment on how Marriott sets or oversees these fees, a Marriott spokesman simply said that “cleaning prices vary by property, duration of stay, and market.”

Needless to say, these fees raise more questions than answers. Adding a 55% fee to the total cost of a booking is akin to bait-and-switch pricing.


The Scope of Marriott's Cleaning Fees

Extra fees have become almost unavoidable when paying for a place to stay, whether you're paying “resort fees” for a hotel or extra cleaning and service fees for an Airbnb.

I looked at over 20 different properties around the U.S. – no international properties are available yet – to get a feel for what Marriott was charging for the Homes and Villas cleaning fees. And after looking at a long weekend in late July, it became clear that there's little rhyme or reason behind these additional fees.

They appear to be one-time, flat fees – and sometimes, they're as high as $305 for even a two-night stay. With a flat fee regardless of the length of your stay, that means a longer stay feels the sting of the fee a bit less. Shorter stays get crushed.

By adding a minimum of 14% to the upfront cost, they're considerable. As high as 55%, it's egregious.

Look at this mid-century modern bungalow in Palm Springs, California. It appears at first glance to be a great deal, at $213 a night for the dates I selected. But once you click through to the property and see that there is a flat $282 cleaning fee added to the cost of the booking. That's 44% of the upfront rental cost, adding another $94 to the overall daily rate. 


marriott cleaning fees


Moving north to Bend, Oregon, we come across a lovely 3-bedroom home with a backyard hot tub listed for $307.67 a night. That's until you tack on the cleaning fee of $290 for the stay, which is 31% of the list price. It adds another $96.66 to the cost of the rental each night.


marriott cleaning fees


Check out this 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo in Keystone, Colorado. For the same July dates, it can be booked for the seemingly reasonable rate of $216 a night. Once you click into the property, you see the additional $268 cleaning fee charge which adds $89.33 to your cost per night. This fee accounts for just over 41% of the listed cost of the booking.


marriott cleaning fees


But the worst offender of all is a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house on a golf course in Charleston, South Carolina. It's listed for a very reasonable $182 a night during our July dates. But then there's a cleaning fee of more than $100, inflating the cost by adding another 55% to your total bill. That $182 a night cost for the property quickly turns into $283.66 a night after factoring in the fee.


marriott cleaning fees


Our Analysis

Cleaning fees might be necessary in the wild world of home rentals. But to charge as much as 55% of the total booking price to clean up is absolutely egregious. Even on the low end, 14% is questionable.

To charge close to $100 or more per night for cleaning is far more than the cost of cleaning after a rental. Whether it's the fault of the rental companies or Marriott itself, this is simply hiding the true rental cost in the cleaning fee.

Let's think about the psychology of this.

You find a seemingly cheap rental property that works for your dates and the size of your party and budget. But by the time you're ready to check out, you get hit with a gigantic fee for cleaning services. By that time, it would appear Marriott is making a bet that you are already committed with the rental and will go forward with it anyway.

Again, these kinds of fees are unavoidable – even with other services like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway. On those more established rental platforms, the cleaning fees can change considerably from place to place. There are also local taxes and fees, which can vary greatly depending on what city you're staying in.

And Airbnb is guilty of hiding the true cost of properties, too. Most Airbnb listings have a mix of cleaning fees and Airbnbs's own service fees on each rental.

But still, they generally pale in comparison to these absurd cleaning fees with Marriott.

It seems certain that Marriott hasn't set any limits on what owners and rental management companies can charge in cleaning fees. And because this platform is brand new, there aren't enough homes and villas listed for rent to control those costs. Once more homes are listed, they would likely drop as the power of competition kicks in.

But the lack of transparency behind these fees after Home and Villas' launch leaves Marriott with a lot of questions.


Bottom Line

Cleaning fees, much like hotel resort fees, can be a nuisance for travelers. Charging them is one thing, but providing zero transparency when they can cost as much as 55% of the listed booking price leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It is hard to imagine these Marriott cleaning fees are anything other than a bait and switch.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

9 Responses

  • I’ve noticed the cleaning fees and service fees of Airbnb here in the states are horrible compared to booking a place in Europe. It actually stopped me from booking places outside of Dallas TX recently.

  • Marriott does not take responsibility for anything after booking through this site. They leave everything up to the 3rd party management company and if there is anything wrong they will not help. They used advertisement from Jeeves Rentals in FLA. and had an inaccurate description of the property. When we got to the home the management company tried to charge us for items that were in the home description. Marriott did not help.

  • Marriott merely books these homes and then you are on your own with the management company. We booked a home for 12 family members in Florida near Orlando. The home was newer with six bedrooms and I trusted the Marriott name. The home was filthy, the pool unmaintained and the management company unresponsive. Everything was blamed on Covid and no staff. Post-vacation I wrote a detailed email to Marriott Homes and Villas with no response. Note thar Marriott will not handle any complaints from Homes and Villas. Never again.

  • What’s even more agregous is if you need to change anything prior or expect By coustomer service. They stater you can cancel or make changes 30days prior but the only way to co tact them is via email. I contacted 3 days prior and they said 8t was too late because they responded after the dater … plus they said if you needed to delete one night or changer after booking that they would tell you to cancel then rebook as they can’t change anything after booking. Mariott has stated that the management company needs to change it but the management company has stated that Mariott has specifically stated that they cannot change anything with stays or payments. MARIOTT HOMES AND VILLAS IS THE WORST I HAVE EVER USED IF 30 YEARS OF TRAVEL. ITS PATHETIC

  • Marriott Homes and Villas is the worst. We booked 4 nights at a condo which turned out to be a noisy unsafe condo from hell with screaming people and loud music till 4am in an unlocked building full of drunks. When we complained to the management company they said there was nothing they could do and that we should contact Marriott. Marriott Homes and Villas so called 24/7 support took two days to get back to us. We either had to stay in the Marriott’s hellscape rental or try to find last minute lodging in Bordeaux on a busy summer weekend. It cost us a lot but it was better then staying in Marriott’s Hell condo. When Marriott finally got back to us they clarified that Marriott takes no responsibility what so ever for customer experiences for the services they sell and That we should take it up with their management company. The management company clarified that they also had no responsibility for the unit because they did not own the building they just managed it for the owners. Of course they refused to give us the contact info for the owners. The owners refused to give us a refund because they know no one can be held responsible. Essentially no one will stand behind the services Marriott is selling. At least with AB+B you can check reviews. You have been warned stay away.

  • Recently booked a four (4) night stay in Arlington, VA and yes after you book you are basically unable to deal with Marriott as they wash their hands with entire stay pushing all concerns onto the property manager. In my case, I went onto the property manager’s website and realized that my stay was 35% cheaper on their site than what I was paying with MHV. I was past the cancellation deadline and despite several backs and forths with MHV agent (which again kept pushing onto the property manager) even though the charge comes from MHV. I am a constant user of all of the Marriott brands including Marriott Vacation Club but find myself for the first time unwilling to recommend Marriott and yes agree this is very close to a bait and switch. At least egregious pricing/markup experience I will not be returning to. To be clear though, the stay was great. Will go directly to property manager next time I need to stay in the area.

  • Recently booked with them for a house in Pheonix over Christmas. I will never ever use them again. Same disjointed disconnected experience. I booked through a link from Marriott Bonvoy their systems are not connected to Marriott homes and Villas who then outsource to a third party management company. So no traceability across any of these platforms or companies. The house I paid almost 4K for was falling apart. The paint was falling off the walls. The house was not cleaned the floors were so dirty our house slippers turned black. The dinning room chairs were so wobbly they broke when one of the guys in my family sat on it. Not one but all of the chairs were literally falling apart. Then there were stains yellow , red the size of a hand all over these white apholstered chairs. There was a wedding party before us in the house and there was inappropriate confetti all over the house. We have kids with us between the age of 3 and 11 who kept finding them all over the house. Again the cleaning fee they charge is obviously not being put to good use.

  • Stayed at homes and villas property and it was terrible. Dirty, pool not useable, grill broken. Rented property through Marriott but they said talk to ‘property manager’ who also did nothing! Very disappointing! Would avoid this Marriott service at all cost!

  • I’ve booked with Marriott Homes and Villas twice and both times my reservation was cancelled with no indication there would be a refund of the payments that I made. The first time, I was offered a property that was not comparable to the one I booked. Marriott offers no assistance once you’ve booked with Homes & Villas. Buyer beware!

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