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The business center at the Atlas. At least this internet is free
One of the most important questions to take into account when picking a hotel? Whether or not there is free WiFi. You know how we feel about this at HotelChatter. It is imperative to our stay. We would not stay in a hotel with paid for WiFi.
But what’s almost worse than charging for WiFi? Advertising it as free, but actually imposing limits. We already told you about one reader’s encounter with a Fairfield Inn that had a limit of one device per guest, but we can go one better with our stay at the Atlas Hotel in Brussels last week.
The Atlas is a really nice, fashion-themed three star hotel in a great area of the city. It has OCD-friendly disposable coffee cups. It’s lovely. And it trumpets its “FREE Wireless High Speed Internet Access in ALL ROOMS, the Lounge, the Breakfast room and the Conference room” (sic) on its homepage.
The Atlas doles out the WiFi via individual codes at the front desk. We were given one, which we immediately tapped into our phone. We asked for another for our computer. And were told that there was a one code per room policy.
One device per room in one of the business centers of Europe? One device per room when you’re selling doubles, twins and duplexes? One device per room in 2014? Non non non, c'est pas possible!
Hotels are feeling the need for speed--fast WiFi speed.
We've been focusing a lot on speed in our last few WiFi Reports and we've been making notes as we go along on some of the faster WiFi speeds that we encounter across the world.
The list, which includes airports and beaches, was created using WiFi speed data collected from 45 million hotspots from April 1 to June 15 of this year. And not so surprisingly, the majority of the brands in the list are budget brands who offer WiFi for free. Here's the wefi list below, including the average speeds of the hotel brand's WiFi signal and our own notes on whether the WeFi, er, WiFi is free or not:
In our Annual WiFi Report the other week we called out 10 hotel brands that still have the nerve to charge for WiFi in 2014. We also gave big-ups to the hotel brands and individual hotels who've made free and working WiFi a priority for their guests.
Yet what a hotel brand aims to give their guests doesn't always get executed in real life, especially amongst such a heavily franchised brand like Fairfield. About a week after we praised Marriott, we received an email from a guest while staying at a Fairfield Inn. According to her, the hotel had free WiFi but they also had a limit of one device per guest. To hook up an extra device to the WiFi would cost another $3.95 a day.
We've heard of device limits at hotels before, but usually for more than two. So you can usually hook up your laptop and your phone, but then your tablet would be an extra charge. However, this guest claims that all Fairfield Inns are going to start implementing the extra device charge after one device. She writes:
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Some like it hot. But more people like it free. We're talking about WiFi here.
In the wake of all of our WiFi news from last week, we've got some great news from the land Down Under, where getting free WiFi or even cheap WiFi is never easy. In fact, it's almost impossible. But not anymore.
Starting this week, Amalgamated Holdings Limited will be offering guests at all their hotels complimentary WiFi to browse the web, check email and Instagram the cool rooms (or so the hotel group hopes.)
Take it from us, WiFi doesn't come cheap at hotels in Oz. We've been offered up some connectivity if we forked over anywhere from $15 to $29.90 per day. Yes, we said per day! Now, you see why this is such a big deal for an entire portfolio of over 40 hotels to ante up some WiFi as part of the nightly rate.
Let this be a little message to other hotels, just do it already! Offering this service can't be that hard, can it?
Is this chick a basic (internet) bitch?
But if you're staying in a hotel, it's good to be basic. By that we mean, you only use the internet for basic tasks like checking your email, updating your Facebook status, and reading your favorite websites. If you aren't basic, then you're probably going to have to cough up a few dollars to get some high-speed, high-quality internet so you can download you're favorite TV show or movie.
But if you don't mind that Buzzfeed or the Daily Mail takes a minute to load, then go on with your basic self!
Are you a basic internet user? Or do you often pay to get the higher bandwidth option? Tell us what kind of internet user you are in comments below!
To all the hotels out there that still insist on charging for WiFi, consider this comment we just received:
Earlier this month I stayed at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley which provides WiFi in the room for $12.99 a day!
When I questioned this they told me that I had the option of using the free WiFi in the Lobby, which didn't help me when I needed to check my email while still in pajamas at 6:00AM.
Other than the WiFi situation the hotel was great, but it's the only reason I need to ensure I never book this hotel again.
It's a shame that they will lose my future business over a ridiculous WiFi fee, but I'm guessing I'm not the only one.
The flagship Hilton brand and its luxury properties (Conrad and Waldorf Astoria) still charge in the guestrooms as do Embassy Suites and DoubleTree by Hilton, while the "focused service" and extended-stay brands--Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites-- typically have it for free. Hilton has also introduced a tiered WiFi structure for guests who need more than just basic internet.
But beyond the actual physical WiFi offerings, Hilton has also introduced a personal service--The StayConnected Program which includes a 24-hour dedicated call center to help guests with their WiFi issues while traveling.
The program also allows owners and operators access their bandwidth usage so they can better understand the needs of guests coming into their hotel. Which should be pretty simple--we all need fast, working WiFi. So give guests the best network that you can.
For more on who's still charging for WiFi and why, read our 2014 Annual Hotel WiFi Report.
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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 TownPlace 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.
"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?"
Meanwhile, these hotels seem to be making free WiFi work for them.
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*.
*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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A speck in the strikingly blue sea, there are no towns or high-rises, no major roads or cars (each guest, young and old, gets a bicycle), just white sandy beaches, that picture-perfect palm tree, and (what the resort promises is) blazingly fast and free internet, being the first test case for 4G capability in the Caribbean.
UPDATE: The free WiFi is in effect at all Loews Hotels. "Prompt, reliable Internet access has become a necessary and expected hotel amenity. We're delighted to be one of the first hotel brands in our category to offer complimentary Wi-Fi access to each and every one of our guests," said Paul Whetsell, President & CEO of Loews Hotels & Resorts." AMEN.
Ladies and gentlemen and kids of all ages, start your laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.,: Free Wi-Fi is available at Loews Hotels beginning January 22, 2014.Has hell frozen over? It feels like it with recent weather we're having and with this little bit of news that we just got--Loews Hotels is now offering FREE WIFI in all of its 18 hotels. Yes, that even includes the Orlando hotels.
There's a big announcement on the home page of LoewsHotels.com today and we hear a press release with the full info will be coming soon.
What we want to know is if the WiFi will be outright free or if you have to be a member of the YouFirst loyalty program. Not that it matters. All that matter is that WiFi is free. Our years of pleading for free WiFi are finally starting to pay off. A round of drinks on us!
[Screengrab: Loews Hotels]