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How Some of Marriott's Hotels are Making Free and Working WiFi a Priority

April 24, 2014 at 12:06 PM | by | Comments (0)

To get online at a Marriott Hotel, typically you have to hang out in the lobby where the flagship brand of Marriott International has free WiFi for all, across all their hotels. Marriott has done this for its other brands too, including JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton. But unless you're an elite member of Marriott Rewards you still have to pay for WiFi in your hotel room.

This is frustrating for sure, but even more so when Marriott International's select service brands----Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Springhill Suites, Residence Inn and Townhill Suites--have free WiFi for all guests, everywhere in the hotel. And they aren't just offering free WiFi, they're making sure it's really good WiFi.

In the past year, these brands have been pushing hard to improve the quality of their WiFi speeds for guests through a variety of strategies. For example, the newest Courtyard by Marriott which opened in NYC earlier this year, has "1.25 gigabytes of bandwidth with horizontal and vertical fiber optical cable network that allows for fast, extensive use on multiple devices at one time." Marriott has also introduced a tiered structure where basic WiFi is free and where faster WiFi can be bought. (The tiered WiFi structure is also in place the brands that charge for basic WiFi.)

While we can only hope that all of Marriott International's hotel brands will soon have free WiFi in the guest rooms, we do have to commend this special group for making free and working WiFi a priority.

To that end we asked Violeta Seidell, Vice President, Project Services for Marriott International a few questions (via email) about Marriott's recent WiFi strategies. While her answers focus mainly on the select service brands, a Marriott rep tell us the answers also apply to the full-service brands.

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The Ludlow Will Open June 3rd at $159 a Night

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 180 Ludlow [map], New York, NY, United States, 10002
April 24, 2014 at 9:40 AM | by | Comment (1)

The Ludlow, the latest (and long-awaited) venture from Sean MacPherson and BD Hotels is now open for bookings starting June 3rd.

We see rates starting at a reasonable "Soft Opening" rate of $159 for a Studio Full; $289 for a Skybox Loft, and $329 for a Loft King with Terrace. The hotel's 184 guestrooms (including 20 suites) will be available in nine configurations, all with city views and many with a private terrace. Rooms will feature hardwood floors, handmade silk rugs, artisan-crafted Moroccan pendant lamps and Indo-Portuguese style beds.

Amenities include Bellini sheets from Italy and new, exclusive bath products from Red Flower, while bathrobes and “Persian rug” trompe-l’oeil bathmats come from French label Maison Martin Margiela. Let's just hope for more space than at MacPherson's last hotel, The Marlton.

You can also look forward to a lobby bar, covered garden and restaurant from Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi. And free WiFi.

[Photo: The Ludlow]

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5 Excuses Hotels Have Given About Why They Still Charge for WiFi

April 23, 2014 at 4:15 PM | by | Comments (0)

"Go to the hotel across the street" is actually not an excuse we've heard from a hotel but rather, other hotel guests.

While the hotel industry has made great strides in recent years with free WiFi, there are still quite a few major brands that are charging for WiFi. We gave you a run-down of the biggest offenders yesterday with a list of 10 hotels that still charge for WiFi.

We also explored one of the major reasons why hotels have been slow to get on the free WiFi train--the owner/operator struggle. But we thought you'd like to see some of the other reasons various hoteliers and industry folk have given HotelChatter in the past years about why they charge for WiFi.

1. "It's expensive to build a WiFi network and we need to make up for that cost somewhere." (Note: you can read our 2012 Hotel WiFi Report infographic to see just how "expensive" it is for hotels to build and maintain a WiFi network.)

2. "Our building is a historic building and it's hard to outfit the hotel with WiFi."

3. "There are privacy and safety concerns with having free WiFi."

4. "It's a revenue stream and we'd be stupid not to tap into it."

5. "If you're paying $400 a night for a room, what's another $15 or $20?"

Sigh.

Meanwhile, these hotels seem to be making free WiFi work for them.

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Now You Can Fly to The Four Seasons In The Four Seasons Private Jet

April 23, 2014 at 10:33 AM | by | Comments (0)

We just had to rub our eyes and make sure that we were fully awake and that we were not dreaming or that it was not April Fools Day. Because holy schnikes, Four Seasons Hotels now has their own branded 757 private jet and their giving guests a ride.

We also can't believe the tagline for the jet--"Because the journey should be as exceptional as the destination."

Alas, you cant just book the jet willy-nilly anytime you're off to a Four Seasons. The private ride is only available through three different journeys that Four Seasons has put together, from an extravagant 24-day Around the World journey (at $119,000 per person) to Backstage with the Arts (which we told you about here and which costs *only* $69,000) to yet another 24-day Around the World Journey (another $119,000 per person.)

The journeys begin in February of next year. If you're interested in booking a trip, start the reservations process here.

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Feast Your Eyes on What the Knickerbocker Hotel Will Look Like

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 1466 Broadway [map], New York, NY, United States, 10036
April 23, 2014 at 10:06 AM | by | Comments (0)

The historic Knickerbocker Hotel is gearing up for its summer opening with an announcement that it has partnered with leading design firm Gabellini Sheppard Associates to design all public spaces and guestrooms (we actually kinda told you that ourselves back in November, but OK).

The hotel, a Leading Hotels of the World, will have 330 guestrooms, including 40 suites, a signature restaurant by Charlie Palmer and a 7,500-square-foot rooftop bar and terrace offering panorama of the city's skyline.

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The 2014 HotelChatter WiFi Report: Who is Still Charging for WiFi and Why?

April 22, 2014 at 11:27 AM | by | Comment (1)

It turns out that luxury hotel you've been dying to stay at doesn't actually have everything you need.

Whether you’re a frequent traveler or a once-a-year vacationer, there’s one amenity you’re probably counting on during your next hotel stay--free, working WiFi.

You're not alone. Hotels.com released a recent survey where hotel guests ranked free WiFi as the most important in-room amenity. See ya, minibar Snickers!

Fortunately, free WiFi has become more commonplace these days (at least 64 percent of hotels!) especially at hotels that caters to business travelers like Courtyard by Marriott and ones that hang with millennials like Ace Hotels. Even traditional brands have let their guard down, like Loews Hotels, who went free at all 19 hotels earlier this year.

Yet there are still a few greedy grinchy hold-outs, typically the luxury hotels and the heavily-franchised brands.

In past editions of our Annual WiFi Report, we’ve done extensive research, lists, diagrams, infographics and the like, all of which you can scroll through here. But this year, we’re taking a "Scared Straight" tactic.

Here are 10 hotels that are STILL charging for WiFi. You can make your booking decision accordingly*.

1. Marriott Hotels

2. Ritz-Carlton Hotels

3. W Hotels

4. Westin Hotels

5. Sheraton Hotels

6. Hilton Hotels

7. Waldorf Astoria Hotels

8. Hyatt Hotels

9. InterContinental Hotels

10. Wyndham Hotels

*Some of these brands offer WiFi free in the lobbies or public spaces and some individual properties even offer it free everywhere or as part of a resort fee. But more often than not, you can expect to pay for internet at these hotels. See even more brands that charge for WiFi here.

Keep reading for more on why hotels charge for WiFi and how you can get it for free.

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East to Head South to Miami in 2015

April 21, 2014 at 8:16 PM | by | Comments (0)

A year ago, we learned the excellent news that Swire Hotels' East Hotels brand would be opening in Miami. Today, we've now got a look at what the hotel will look like thanks to the South Florida Business Journal.

The 263-room hotel will open in Fall 2015 in the Brickell City Centre Project, a mixed-used development in Miami's Brickell neighborhood. Designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, (who are also doing the Hyde Hotel in Midtown Miami), the East Miami will have two restaurants, a poolside bar and lounge, a rooftop bar, fitness center, and a banquet hall along with 89 serviced apartments known as East Residences.

Sadly, there aren't any room photos but if the hotel looks anything like the East Hotel in Hong Kong, we'll be very happy.

[Rendering via SoFla Biz Journal]

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ME Mallorca and ME Ibiza Are Getting Ready for Summer Season

April 21, 2014 at 4:04 PM | by | Comment (1)

Thinking of heading to the Spanish Balearic Islands this summer? There’s some new hotel competition coming to town on Mallorca and Ibiza, with Mélia’s lifestyle brand ME Hotels arriving on both islands.

Opening in May, ME Mallorca is located on a beach in Calvià (it's the former Beach House Hotel), and being next door to Nikki Beach you won’t have to go far to party. Poolside lounging can be done at the hotel too, at one of two pools, with SkinC spa and fitness facilities. Aura Managers – “the driver of the vibe and the leader of personalised service” – are on hand to help you with whatever you want. The vibe you’ll find in the rooms? Check it out below.

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Hotel Indigo Downtown Atlanta to Open in 2015

Where: 230 Peachtree Street [map], Atlanta, GA, United States
April 21, 2014 at 12:52 PM | by | Comments (0)

Hotel Indigo is heading back to where it all began.

Ten years ago, the very first Hotel Indigo opened in Atlanta. Today, the hyper-local, on-trend design hotel has 55 hotels in 11 countries. But it can't get enough of A-town. The city's third Indigo, Hotel Indigo Downtown Atlanta, will open in the fall of 2015 at 230 Peachtree St. NE.

The hotel will takeover eight floors of a building first developed 50 years ago by architect John C. Portman. In a full circle move, his real estate development firm, Portman Holdings, now owns the building. And it looks like Hotel Indigo will capitalize on all the changes in the area:

“Downtown Atlanta is experiencing a surge in growth and development, and we look forward to connecting guests to the newly revitalized neighborhood,” said Mary Winslow, director, Americas Brand Management, Hotel Indigo. “The hotel will be located in the center of downtown and very close to the new Atlanta Streetcar line, making it easy to step out and explore. We are very pleased to be part of a new project in our hometown, and we’re excited about helping guests discover something new about the neighborhood every time they visit.”

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Dean & Deluca Has Already Moved into the Bangkok Edition

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Chong Nonsi, Bangkok, Thailand
April 21, 2014 at 8:35 AM | by | Comments (0)

If that headline implies hope of an opening date for The Bangkok Edition itself being around the corner, we’re going to ruin it for you straight away: looking at the state of construction at the Mahanakhon Tower – see below for further photos – we’ll say it will be at the very least the 2016 that Edition Hotels itself currently lists on its website before that happens, if not a bit closer to a decade after we first looked at the crazy-cool development (Jenga!).

That hasn’t stopped Dean & Deluca from opening in early March though, and if the crowd we saw here this past weekend is anything to go by, the urban Bangkok set is all over the barista-crafted lattes and $11 ham & cheese sandwiches. If you’re looking for the affordable Bangkok, you certainly won’t find it here.

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Chatwal Hotelier in Trouble Again (But It's Not Vikram)

April 18, 2014 at 12:05 PM | by | Comments (0)

Usually when we hear of a Chatwal hotelier in the news, it's often about Vikram Chatwal, the troubled hotelier behind The Dream Hotel brand. But today, it's Vikram's father who's in the news. And it's pretty serious.

The Daily News reports that Sant Singh Chatwal, the chairman of Hampshire Hotels & Resorts which includes his namesake, The Chatwal Hotel, pleaded guilty to "recruiting straw donors to make illegal campaign contributions to three federal candidates." He also pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness who he allegedly told to lie to the FBI and the IRS.

Chatwal stepped down as CEO of Hampshire Hotels earlier this month (probably because of the charges) but remains on as chairman. Eric Danziger, formerly CEO of Wyndham Hotel Group, took Chatwal's place. Wyndham franchises the Dream and Night hotels which were started by Chatwal.

Meanwhile, Chatwal faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $200,000 when he's sentenced on July 31. He also offered to pay the U.S. government $1 million in restitution.

This is not the first time Chatwal has been in trouble with the government. Back in 2012, it was discovered that The Chatwal Hotel pretended to be a church for several years to avoid paying taxes. (It's a long story but the hotel was previously a church and the hotel never changed that status.) Let's hope this is the last of the Chatwal crimes.

[Photo of Chatwal and Danziger via Rediff]

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First Look at Homewood Suites, Opening in NYC on June 1

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 312 W. 37th Street [map], New York, NY, United States, 10018
April 18, 2014 at 11:02 AM | by | Comments (0)

Last fall, we let you know that NYC would soon be getting its first Homewood Suites Hotel and now today, we've got pictures from inside the spot, opening on June 1.

Located in Times Square South at 37th Street and 8th Avenue, this Homewood has two big amenities that we love--full kitchens (with a full-sized fridge, microwave and oven) and free WiFi. It's also got all-suite accommodations, free hot breakfast every day and complimentary dinner and drinks Monday-Thursday.

We especially dig the "homey" part of this Homewood suites. The rooms look quite...well...pretty to be honest. We like the hardwood floors, the color scheme and even the wall paper that looks like flecks of light behind the bed. Much better-looking than this Homewood Suite.

Rates for opening night start at $279 for a king studio suite, which is a nonrefundable rate. A more flexible rate of $301 is also available. A one bedroom suite starts at $379 a night.

Keep reading for more photos

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