· Marriott Flagship: Once again, the Marriott Flagship makes the worst list, partly because of inconsistency across the Marriott brands (Residence Inn, Courtyard and others offer free WiFi) and partly because you need a Ph.D to comprehend the Internet policies at some of their flagship hotels. First off, there's no free wifi. You can pay $9.99 for 24 hours in the lobby only. Or you choose to do a T-Mobile Hotspot option but $6.99 a minute roam charges apply. In the rooms, you can pay $9.95 for tethered ethernet access which will include any phone calls, local and long distance, that you make. Or you can head down to the business center and get free WiFi on the few computers offered there but will have to wait your turn and then have the next person in line breathe down your neck while you check your email. Marriott Flagship, you lost us at "No Free Wifi."
·Kor Hotel Group is a group of fifteen stylish boutique hotels with what at times, seems like fifteen separate and distinct WiFi policies. The Avalon in Beverly Hills offers users "click & go" WiFi in the lobby, but no wireless in the rooms and a $10.95 wired 24-hour access charge. But, the majority of Kor Properties report charging $10.95 for lobby WiFi. The Jefferson in Washington DC, and both Viceroy's are among the groups hotels that charge for lobby WiFi access. Moreover, Campton Place in San Francisco does not offer lobby WiFi and charges $11.95 for an in-room broadband connection. Imagine, a sleek, stylish boutique hotel in the heart of tech-laden San Francisco offering no wireless access. The worst Kor hotel WiFi experience happened to us at the Chamberlain in West Hollywood just a few months ago. WiFi was $9.95 a day, but only available in the lobby, which was small, compact, and not conducive to working. For us, in-room broadband was not an option because the connection was busted and went unprepared during our two day visit (after repeated requests). The lobby WiFi netted us a meager two bars and connecting to the Internet proved so troublesome we spent hours on the phone with the hotels third-party WiFi provider--yeah, not fun. In a promising development, Kor Group recently purchased The Tides in South Beach, a hotel that offers complimentary wireless access to guests all throughout the building--that means lobby and guest rooms. The front desk issues you a network password, which expires one week after it is issued, but guests are free to extend its expiration date. Maybe Kor hotels with lagging WiFi will start taking a cue from their newest property.
·W Hotels: W Hotels are thought to be the leaders of the boutique pack. Not just a hotel but a lifestyle, always on the cutting edge, and some of their interior designs are just that. So imagine rolling up to a W Hotel and finding that in your room, the hotel still uses an ethernet cable and charges you $10 - $17 a day for tethered web access. Ouch.
True, most W hotels now offer free WiFi in their lobbies, which is a big step in the right direction, but there is little consistency to the chains WiFi/Internet policies for guests. Nor does anyone at W Hotels seem to know what the chain's internet access policy is. For instance, we called the W's 1-800 number to inquire about which properties have wireless. The kind woman on the other end informed us that all of the hotels have wireless in the rooms and in the lobbies. Hmm. We knew this wasn't true, but we gave W a mulligan.
Next, we called the W Los Angeles-Westwood, the woman at the front desk said there was no wireless access at all. Later we tried again and a man said that yes indeed the hotel had free wireless in the lobby, on the second floor, in the restaurant, and by the pool.
The real topper? The WiFi/Internet set up at W Times Square--free WiFi on the 7th floor, and maybe the 50th floor and up. Broadband for $14.95 in rooms for everyone else, and a cyber room on the fifth floor which houses a couple of computers and runs on an "honor system". The system? You write your name and time of entry on a sheet of paper, if you use the Internet for approximately five minutes or less it is gratis, but stay online for thirty minutes and it W will tack on $6.95 to your room bill. Dizzy yet?
· Four Seasons: We are guessing that Four Seasons hotels are charging guests inexorbitant WiFi fees simply because the guests can afford it. They must think if you can afford the room, you can afford a $10 double dip for WiFi and broadband access. That's right, most Four Seasons charge their guests $10 for lobby WiFi access and another $10 for in-room broadband access, both charges are levied every 24 hours. It gets worse. To utilize the WiFi at the Four Seasons Maui, which is available in the lobby, around the pool and in the restaurant, you can not charge your room and must instead use a credit card. Oh, and the I.M. Pei designed New York Four Seasonsis completely without a WiFi signal. Someday we will figure out why the highest price hotels have some of the most offensive wireless policies out there.
· Morgans Hotel Group aka Ian Schrager properties: Schrager started the boutique trend but is not hip to free WiFi. His hotels, unlike other WiFi offenders, earn top marks for consistency since all hotels have wireless internet access available in the lobby and in the rooms. However, all hotels with the exception of the Shore Club in Miami charge $10 a day. For some reason, the Shore Club is $14.95 a day. Maybe they are lifting a page from the Four Seasons playbook at this property.
Not Quite There
·Hyatt Hotels: The good news is that Hyatt has partnered up with T-Mobile to bring a Hotspot to most Hyatt lobbies across the brand. So, if you already subscribe to the T-Mobile Hotspot plan then you are in luck. The bad news is if you area T-Mobile subscriber you have to pay T-Mobile for WiFi. Furthermore, if you aren't a subscriber be prepared to shell out $9.95 a day, or hourly charges. And you are stuck relying on the signal strength of a T-Mobile Hotspot.