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Free WiFi=Poolside selfies, according to Hilton Hotels
We reported on this program benefit back in March with an estimated roll-out date of August but it looks like they've released the perk a little earlier than expected.
There are a couple of catches--you need to be a Hilton HHonors member, and you need to book directly with Hilton. Also, the free WiFi is just standard WiFi. If you'd like premium internet, you'll need to be a HHonors Diamond member for that.
Still, this is a big step for Hilton as they join the other hotel brands that have already freed their WiFi for their loyalty program members. Hopefully, this will get them some new "likes."
[Screengrab: Hilton HHonors]
Earlier this year, Starwood Hotels freed the WiFi for all members of its loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest, so long as they booked directly through Starwood. However, that was just for basic internet usage.
Premium internet--which is fast enough for streaming services and heavy-duty uploading/downloading--still comes at a cost, unless you're a Gold or Platinum member.
But now there's another way to get it "free"--by signing up for the SPG American Express card. Automatically being a cardholder will get you that premium in-room internet you want. The benefit doesn't kick in until August 11 so you have some time to get your application in. The card will also free customers from foreign transaction fees as well as give them complimentary unlimited Boingo WiFi hotspot access. Which means you shall never pay for internet while traveling again.
Using the SPG Amex will also earn you more Starpoints during your stay at participating SPG Hotels as well as 1 Starpoint for all other purchases. And once you've spent $30,000 on "eligible" purchases on the card, you'll be automatically upgraded to SPG Gold status.
However, the catch is that that the annual fee for the card is set to go up to $95 on August 11 (previously it was $65.) Your first year of card membership is free, but after that you'll pay $95 annually.
[Photo: W Hotels]
Last week, I spent a night in a five star hotel in Singapore – one of its top ones, no less. The room was, obviously, beautiful. The pools (plural) were to die for. I arrived late and went straight to sleep. I woke up, swam, had breakfast, and turned on my computer. And found my computer wouldn’t connect to the WiFi.
I have a Mac, and this sometimes happens. So I did what normally works – left it a few minutes, restarted it, adjusted the settings. Several times. And it still didn’t work.
I knew it wasn’t a problem with the WiFi, because my phone was connected. So after a few more restarts and a bit more fiddling, I called the front desk. This has happened about four times in the past, and each time connecting me to the IT dept has solved it by manually assigning the IP address. In fact, the first time this happened – at the Allegro Chicago – the IT guy said that they often have this issue with foreign-‘born’ Macs. It was not a big deal.
A woman answered and I explained the problem, asking to be connected to someone in IT. “Maybe it’s a problem with our WiFi,” she said. “I don’t think so,” I said, “Because my phone is connected. This has happened before, and it was a Mac issue. I just need to assign a manual IP. Is it possible for someone from the IT dept to walk me through this?”
“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” she replied.
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Spending time not paying attention to your significant other just got that much better in paradise, as The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort has flipped the switch for complimentary WiFi all across the resort. Of course we’re kidding, no one would ever take a Facebook or Instagram break while on their honeymoon; however, if an exception ever arose this hotel has you covered—ha!
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It's been broughten.
Hilton Worldwide will begin offering ALL members of their HHonors program free WiFi starting in August. Additionally, HHonors Diamond members will receive premium WiFi complimentary starting in the second quarter of this year.
Currently, only gold and diamond members of HHonors can receive free standard WiFi. Average WiFi rates in-room at Hilton are about $12.95 a day while premium WiFi is $16.95 a day.
Hilton finally joins the ranks of Starwood, Marriott, and Hyatt who began freeing the WiFi for their loyalty members late last year. (But if you're keeping score, IHG was the first to do it for real in July 2013.)
You will have to book your room with Hilton to get the free WiFi and obvi, you need to be a member of HHonors but Hilton has also made the WiFi free for members who book through corporate travel partners, an advantage over other hotel brands.
Let the countdown to August begin!
WiFi options from a ferry 10 minutes away from St Mark's Square
Fast, free WiFi is, in our opinion, a basic hotel right. Mobile WiFi? That’s an amazing added extra. WiFi that’s so strong the signal stretches across the city? Monsieur, now you are really spoiling us.
* Out around the Biennale/Arsenale, coming in on the ferry from the airport (about a 20-minute walk from the Danieli);
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.