Federal Judge Determines Service Fees Atlantis Charges Its Guests May be Unfair And Deceptive

In March of this year, our attorneys, based in White Plains, New York, filed a Complaint in federal court in Florida against Kerzner International Resorts, Inc., the general sales and marketing agent for Atlantis resorts. The Complaint alleges that Atlantis unfairly and deceptively charges its guests a daily per person “mandatory housekeeping gratuity” — the vast majority of which is not actually paid to the housekeepers.

Atlantis does not deny that it does not pay the entire “mandatory housekeeping gratuity” to housekeepers.  Nevertheless, Atlantis improvidently moved to dismiss the case, claiming that the “mandatory housekeeping gratuity” is combined with a “utility service fee,” and that the distribution of the revenues obtained from those charges within the hotel’s operating structure is of no concern to its guests.


Federal District Court Judge Cohn of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida rejected Atlantis’ arguments, finding that:


The use of the term “gratuity” in the present action, as opposed to “fee” or “service charge,” would lead a reasonable consumer to believe that those funds are a pass-through to the housekeeping staff . . . The fact that Defendants have not disclosed the specific amounts of “housekeeping gratuity” and “utility service fee” does not immunize their conduct.


This is good news for the tens of thousands of consumers from whom Atlantis has deceptively collected the “mandatory housekeeping gratuity and utility services fee.” After some minor pleading technicalities have been addressed, this proposed class action will proceed toward trial in December 2011.


If you or someone you know has stayed at the Atlantis resort or its related hotels, please contact us to discuss your legal options.