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While we're on the topic of hotel WiFi today....
As we travel and review properties, we're constantly pressing hotels to improve the quality and reduce the price of the WiFi they offer guests. It should be free and fast, and we applaud those who make it an expected and reliable amenity. (Also of note, we applaud the FCC for smacking down hotels attempts' to block WiFi hotspots. Cough, Marriott, cough.)
This week, a company called Hotel WiFi Test used those exact two criteria to create a hotel WiFi "State of the Union," if you will. The company released data that ranks the top cities and countries with both the best and the worst hotel WiFi.
Basically, the company crowd-sourced data from travelers and aggregated it to make a usable study. Overall, it tested 4,000 hotels worldwide, including 241 in Manhattan.
A few takeaways that stand out:
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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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While wining and dining the Virgin was great, as was experimenting with new
positions chambers, there was something that Doug Carillo, vice president of sales and marketing for Virgin Hotels, told us that has really stuck with us this past week. And that's Virgin Hotels commitment to free WiFi.
For us, it’s always been that we feel WiFi is a right, and we need it to live. If we don’t have it and its not working fast enough, then we are failing the guests.
Wow. It's only taken more than a decade but someone finally understands this.
Indeed, getting on the WiFi network at Virgin--whether a hotel guest or a visitor elsewhere on property--is effortless. Just find the Virgin Hotels network and hop on. It's that easy.
Because WiFi networks can be expensive to build and maintain, or rather, because hotels often use this as their excuse for charging for WiFi, we asked Carillo if maybe Virgin was bumping up the room rate to make up for the cost of offering unlimited free bandwidth to guests and pretty much anyone just passing through. Nope. Here's what he said:
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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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Before the holidays, we explained that as hotels begin to make Wifi more available and, most importantly, free, they are simultaneously policing the use of personal hotspots on their properties.
Team Hotspot Blockers as represented by Marriott: Cybersecurity. They're concerned that unauthorized access points will make it easy to hack into a hotel operator's network and threaten guest privacy. In addition, too many hotspots could clog up the network, reducing both personal and hotel Wifi performance and speed. And the resulting bad WiFi service could translate into bad reviews.
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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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We've been cheering a lot here at HotelChatter HQ about the recent developments in the hotel WiFi world with Marriott, Starwood and Hyatt Hotels now offering free internet to their guests (Marriott and Starwood want you to be a member of their loyalty programs and book directly through them while Hyatt is just totally free.)
But there is a darker side to all these developments. Both Marriott International and the American Hotel & Lodging Association have petitioned the FCC to clarify a ruling they made back in October when they fined Marriott $600,000 for jamming personal hotspots, like the ones on your smartphone, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville. Essentially, Marriott and AHLA are asking the FCC to allow hotspot blocking, whether through clarifying some existing FCC policies or by creating a new rule entirely that would address the situation.
Need some "light" Christmas morning reading? You can read the entire petition to the FCC right here. This was filed back in August, too.
This room at the Hyatt South Beach will have free WiFi for all guests when it opens this spring
The giant hotel company announced that starting on February 2015, the WiFi will be free at ALL HYATT HOTELS. Previously, it was free for elite members of Hyatt Gold Passport loyalty program.
And unlike other hotels WiFi offerings, the WiFi will be free whether you are a Hyatt Gold Passport member or not, and whether you booked directly through Hyatt or not.
“Internet connectivity is no longer an amenity. It has become an integral part of travelers’ daily lives and a basic expectation,” said Kristine Rose, vice president of brands for Hyatt. “Travelers shouldn’t have to remember which brands or locations offer it for free or the strings attached to get it.”
We kinda can't believe this. Even though we've been saying WiFi is as important as air conditioning and a toilet that flushes, for several years now, it feels strange that major hotel brands are finally coming around to it. But it is good news.
Now, we'll be scrutinizing the speed and quality of this free WiFi. Oh and on that note, where Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond and Platinum tier members will receive a complimentary upgrade to a Hyatt Hotel's premium WiFi service.
So, what do you have to say, Hilton Hotels?
Go ahead. Update your TPS report from your guest room.
The time we champions of free hotel WiFi have longed for has finally, FINALLY!, come. No longer do you have to put down the Snickers bar, hurriedly throw on sweatpants and scurry down to the lobby to access the free WiFi to answer an important work email at Starwood Hotels.
The company just announced they will be offering property-wide complimentary WiFi to all SPG Members, of all levels, starting on February 2. Previously free WiFi was only given to Gold or Platinum members.
But there is a catch. You have to book your stay through Starwood, whether it be the website, the mobile site or the SPG app. Which really you should be doing anyways so you can earn points to your SPG account.
We've been waiting for this moment for a long time, or well, since rival chain Marriott announced they would be giving free WiFi to all their Marriott Rewards members at least.
Now travelers looking to stay at Starwood Hotels, which include W, Westin, St. Regis and Le Meridien, will have to decide what's a better deal--the discounted rate on a booking site or a last-minute booking app or paying the rack rate on Starwood and getting free WiFi. We say, the latter. Always. We just hope the WiFi is fast.
[Photo: Starwood Hotels]
There are WiFi charges, and then there are WiFi charges. And then, well beyond that, there are WiFi charges – utterly obscene, the like of which we’ve never heard of before. This comes under the latter.
WiFi at the hotel starts at €9 for “low speed”, rockets up to €200 for “medium speed” and then goes utterly insane at €300 for high speed. That’s almost twice the cost of their lowest rooms, which cost from €163.