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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 Beach 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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Marriott Adds a 'Chat' Feature To Their Mobile App

April 18, 2014 at 10:33 AM | by | Comments (0)

Marriott Hotels officially rolled out a check-in and check-out function to their mobile app earlier this year, making it even easier for guests to get up to or get out of their rooms.

But now Marriott has gone one step further. Guests will now be able to "real-time chat" with the hotel with the Guest Service Requests function. The chat feature is available to Marriott Rewards' guests and allow for two-way text messaging, if you need an extra pillow or have issues with the WiFi. No word on if you can order up a club sandwich at 2 am, but room service is easy enough.

Right now, the text-like chat is only available at 15 properties around the country, and pending its success, will be rolled out to more cities by the end of the year. Right now you can chat with guest services at the New York Marriott Downtown, Boston Marriott Copley Place, Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile and Marriott San Diego Hotel and Marina to name a few.

[Screenshot: iTunes/Marriott]

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Park Hyatt Bangkok Is Getting Its Twist

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Ploenchit Road, Bangkok, Thailand
April 18, 2014 at 9:18 AM | by | Comments (0)

Having had such major openings recently as Sofitel So and W, Bangkok continues apace with new hotels over the next few years, from a Rosewood and a Capella to no less than three Hyatts (Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, and Hyatt Place).

The Park Hyatt will arrive first, scheduled to open next year in a mixed-use building on Ploenchit Road. While completion is still a while away, you can just about start to make out the “twisted coil” architecture that will give the building its distinctive shape. The white skeleton you see peeking out above the exterior cladding on the left swoops up into the tower element that will eventually house 173 rooms and 49 suites. Check out the rendering below to get a better sense of the end result.

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Virgin Hotels Will Strap on a Guitar and Head to Nashville in 2016

April 17, 2014 at 12:32 PM | by | Comments (0)

You can probably thank Taylor Swift for the latest announcement from Virgin Hotels. The burgeoning hotel brand has just revealed they will open a new hotel in Nashville in 2016 in a pretty prime location--One Music Row.

Virgin Hotels Nashville will have 240 guest rooms, multiple "concept" suites, along with food and beverage outlets and perhaps most necessary of all, a cutting edge recording studio.

“Based on its nonstop cultural and live events, food and beverage scene, and its ability to inspire both talented artists and TV viewers, Nashville’s time is now – and we’d like to be part of that excitement,” said Sir Richard Branson. “Virgin Hotels will be our first venture in Nashville, and we’ll look at other opportunities for our US and international customers to enjoy the southern hospitality that Nashville is known for.”

Meanwhile, Virgin Hotels Chicago is apparently just "months away from opening" according to Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels. After that, Virgin has its eyes set on NYC, Boston, Dallas, LA, Miami, San Fran, DC and London.

We don't think we need to say it again but it bears repeating, "Hurry up because we can't hardly wait."

[Photo: Nashville CVB]

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Can a Crowd-Funded Hotel Actually Work? Hard Rock Palm Springs Will Find Out

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 150 South Indian Canyon Drive [map], Palm Springs, CA, United States, 92262
April 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM | by | Comment (1)

Admit, it. You've probably thought about what it's like to actually live in a hotel. The thought is totally normal, especially when you think about the daily housekeeping, trendy design and staff often responding to most every want. Well, this idea can be a reality with a trip to the desert of Palm Springs and your own little slice of the Hard Rock Hotel.

The Hard Rock is looking for people, regular people like yourself, to invest in the luxury 163-room resort in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. With a little professional help from RealtyMogul.com, interested (and cashed-up) parties will register their desire to be part of the America's first fully online crowd-funded hotels.

Benefits for signing a check with a few more decimals than a night's stay extend way beyond bragging rights. Individual investors in the hotel will receive VIP benefits ranging from free use of the hotel owner poolside cabana, 25% discounts off the best available room rates and free room upgrades. Even if you're not a regular to Coachella Valley Music Festival, this might be a good reason to get away to the desert more often.

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Welcome to Pricey Las Vegas for Memorial Day Weekend

April 16, 2014 at 7:12 PM | by | Comment (1)

Finding a hotel is often only one part of your trip. The other half is getting there. And our bro Jaunted does a bang-up job of covering the latest news and trends in the travel world. Out in Vegas, VegasChatter is keeping us informed on what's going down in Sin City.

VEGASCHATTER
· Want To Spend Memorial Day Weekend In Vegas? Here's A Look At Rates
· Restaurant Rumblings At Bellagio
· Peeking Into The Cromwell
· It's Okay To Do Vegas Alone

JAUNTED
· Three New Travel Apps to Add to Your Homescreen
· Where to Go with Your Tax Refund: Thailand, for Beach Days and Night Markets
· US Airways Tweets NSFW Photo: What Actually Happened
· Got $100? Then You've Got Access to the Captain's Seat of an Emirates A380

(PHOTO: Yury G. on Foursquare)