After a long recession in the hospitality industry that cut deepest at the top-end properties, upscale hotels have been climbing back. According to Smith Travel Research, the leading industry analyst, occupancy rates were up 18.1 percent and average room rates up 9.9 percent in the “upper-upscale” segment of the domestic hotel industry for the week ended April 2, over the comparable week in 2010. Both rate increases led the industry.

Luxury hotel people now use terms like “frugal fatigue” to explain why many upscale customers who had switched to less expensive hotels with fewer amenities during the recession are now coming back. But most executives I know in this exalted segment of the industry have also been saying that once good times did return, luxury customers would probably be far more demanding of “value.”

As to “value,” let’s consider what many business travelers regard as the most annoying aspect of staying in these hotels: being nickel and dimed with fees and surcharges. We have become accustomed to free Internet, free parking, free breakfast and maybe even a free nightly cocktail hour at many midscale and sometimes even economy-scale chain hotels. But five-star hotels and luxury convention hotels have long been notorious for slapping on extra fees for a wide range of services.

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