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Ah, Monaco, a place so ridiculously, frivolously expensive that most of the hotels expect you to pay for WiFi. Pay for WiFi? Well, not if you use their basic service, of course – but if you want something that does more than pull in a single email every hour or so, you usually have to pony up for a faster connection (notable exception: the Fairmont, which gives free WiFi to members of its Presidents Club).
So huge news from Monaco this week with the news that the Columbus has become the first Monegasque hotel to offer free, highspeed WiFi to all its guests and visitors. It’s a 50MB connection, with an auto-login – so no annoying passwords to re-enter, and your login lasts a month, so if you only stay a night, you know where to hit up the bar for some work time.
And if you really can’t believe that no hotel in an entire country has done this before,
then you haven’t been to Monaco this is what they say:
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It's the first WiFi victory of 2015! Marriott International has abandoned its quest to block your personal WiFi hotspot at their hotels.
The hotel giant told Inc. (in an article which we also quoted in) that guests at Marriott-managed hotels will be able to use their personal WiFi devices, citing customer response. However, Marriott said they would "continue to look to the FCC to clarify appropriate security measures network operators can take to protect customer data."
That sounds a bit ominous but whatevs, your personal WiFi hotspot is safe.
Meanwhile, TODAY IS THE DAY that Marriott begins to free their WiFI for all guests. So long as you made your reservation through Marriott.com (or the mobile app or the reservation hotline) and you are a member of Marriott Rewards. Got those two things? Then WiFi is free. Whee!
Staying at a Marriott and reading this story using free WiFi? Let us know how it's going!
The Sentinel Hotel in Portland
The Portland, Ore.-based hotel collection has eliminated Wi-Fi fees for overnight guests at Hotel Max in Seattle, Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Portland’s Hotel Lucia, Hotel deLuxe and Sentinel, and Hotel Preston in Nashville. (Hotel 1000 in Seattle, which joined Provenance in July, already had free WiFi.) Even better, the company has spent the past year "upgrading the Wi-Fi experience at the company’s hotels with fiber optic internet to increase bandwidth, speed and capacity."
And when the group opens the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in New Orleans later this spring, the WiFi will be free there as well. Really, there's nothing more to say except, "This is so awesome. Now, who's next?"
[Photo: Provenance Hotels]
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Free inroom WiFi is, of course, essential (we think) for a hotel stay. But free mobile WiFi to take around town? Now there’s something exceptional. But then, we always did think Room Mate Hotels were exceptional.
Travel journo and HC Twitter chum David Whitley checked into Room Mate Oscar in Madrid this week and found that it gives guests a free mobile WiFi router to take around town with them. Turns out that’s not just an Oscar thing – Room Mate has offered this service in all its Spanish hotels since July.
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It's that time of year again: the 2014 HotelChatter Awards! Today and tomorrow, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...
It’s almost as if they knew. We (and you) have long been advocates of free WiFi being essential to hotel stays; but many of the big chains didn’t want to know.
But the tide is turning, and 2014 will go down as the year the WiFi revolution really came to pass. In the last two months alone we’ve seen Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, Sandals and Taj all announce they’re freeing the WiFi (with a couple of easily taken care of caveats from Marriott and Starwood). And free WiFi is the most important factor in choosing a hotel for British guests, according to a slightly-biased-but-we’ll-take-it-anyway survey for Amba Hotels, which is promising the fastest connection speed in the world.
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The main reason we go crazy for free WiFi in hotels? Checking social media, apparently. The second? Getting directions. How very dull.
The research has been done by Amba, the “contemporary” (ie millennial) arm of glh, formerly Guoman. Amba Charing Cross, which used to be a Guoman itself, opened this month with what it’s billing as “the world’s fastest, free unlimited WiFi” (how much would we love to test that out?). There will also be Smart TVs in every room, USB sockets by every bed, and iPads on every nightstand.
Handily for them (but also totally believably), Amba found that 67% of the 1000 UK travelers questioned said free WiFi would make them more likely to select a hotel – even higher than location,at 65%. Specifically fast WiFi with unlimited downloads came in at 34%.
WiFi also came out as the most important factor in rating a hotel post-stay, with 60% of those questioned saying that was the most crucial – even more than those who rated getting a good night’s sleep.
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In early 2013, when Sandals Resorts upgraded their WiFi networks, we were thrilled to hear that you could feasibly check your email by the pool. Not that we would recommend doing that on your vacation but just knowing that you could is always a comfort for the extremely connected like ourselves.
However, we were less than thrilled that WiFi was still an additional fee, usually about $14 a day, or $43 for the week.
But now, both Sandals and Beaches resorts are offering free WiFi to guests during their stay. The WiFi will be available in all room categories in all public areas. (Previously, if you booked a Concierge or Butler level suites, you could get free WiFi.)
Even better, there doesn't appear to be a device restriction so you can connect your phone and your tablet and your laptop and your portable game control. But come on, if you're traveling with all that, and you don't have kids or several members in your party, then maybe you should seek out a digital detox program instead.
[Photo: Sandals Resorts/Facebook]
That’s an additional 125 hotels where you can get online without incurring an annoying daily fee, ranging from an historic palace in Jaipur (above Rambagh Palace) to the Pierre in New York. The change covers Taj Hotels, Vivanta by Taj, Gateway Hotels, and Ginger, for the duration of your stay on up to three devices.
The set up sounds very much like what we’ve seen at Four Seasons, with basic internet for emails, social media, and surfing the web included. If you need higher bandwidth, or want to connect further devices, you can upgrade to a “premium tier” for a fee.
Once again, Virgin Hotels is
harassing driving by other hotels in town, flaunting what they got. This time, it's free WiFi which will be available for every guest at the Virgin Hotel Chicago when it opens in January.
Virgin took the streets of Chicago in a branded van the other night and parked at the intersection of Wells and Adams St., which is conveniently near both the JW Marrioott and the W City Center hotels, two hotels that charge for WiFi in the guest rooms. (Although, internet access is available in the lobby for free.)
But not only did Virgin be like, "Look what we have that they don't have!", they also offered free high-speed WiFi from the van so passerbys could experience the Virgin WiFi network.
Virgin will also not charge for early departure fees, room service delivery fees, minibar stocking fees, and business center fees so expect this van to come back around. again.
[Photo: Virgin Hotels]
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The reason we were all "meh" about Marriott Hotels' wireless phone chargers a few weeks ago was simply because Marriott is still charging for WiFi up in the guest rooms. But it looks like they've had a change of heart because...
Marriott International will be giving all members of its Marriott Rewards program free WiF at all Marriott brands (about 3,800 hotels) starting on January 15, 2015. #stunned #flabbergasted #theendishere
Here's the official Marriott statement:
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It’s been open a full two weeks now, and although we haven’t quite found the $1000 to stay at Peninsula Paris (give us another week or 500), others have – and a newspaper has checked it out too. Here’s what they say about the $999,000,000 project.
The 26 TripAdvisor reviews are mixed, leaning towards the negative – though a good tranche are from people who’ve just eaten, rather than stayed at the hotel.
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Last week we gave you a peek at the hip Seeko’o Hotel in Bordeaux and now it’s Mama Shelter’s turn. If you know other Mama Shelters, then you know that the hipness tap stayed on during the making of this little gem.
Located right in the heart of things at Place Saint Christoly, this 97-room hotel opened in October of 2013. Like all of the Mama Shelters the concept is simple: Give the people what they need and charge ‘em extra for the stuff that they might want. That, plus a Philippe Starck design concept that’s stark (or Starck! yuk-yuk) white minimalism in the rooms and wild and wacky design in the public areas.
(Plenty of pics in the photo gallery!)