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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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4G Internet in the Caribbean? You'll Find It Here

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Jumby Bay Island, Antigua and Barbuda
February 13, 2014 at 8:49 AM | by | Comments (0)

Here being Jumby Bay, a Rosewood resort that is its own private island just a short boat ride away from Antigua.

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.

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Victory! Loews Hotels Are Now Offering Free WiFi

January 22, 2014 at 10:39 AM | by | Comment (1)

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]

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Should Hotels Disclose the Speed of Their WiFi?

November 7, 2013 at 10:10 AM | by | Comments (0)

We've all been there: You pay $9.99 or whatever for wireless in your room, only to discover that the speed of the Internet barely allows you to navigate your favorite websites frustration free. Download a photo? Watch a video? Update your blog? Forget it.

As hybrid travelers who (for better or worse) need to be constantly connected on the road for business, we've found ourselves trapped many a time, tapping our fingers and wondering if there are any coffee shops nearby where we might be able to get some work done. It's an awful feeling, mostly because when we see that a hotel offers WiFi, we have the tendency to assume it's as hearty as our connection at home. This, unfortunately, is still not the case in 2013.

Plenty of hotels skimp on speed and reliability when it comes to Wifi, seemingly happy to simply add it to its list of amenities. Whether it actually works for anyone is a different story. It begs the questions: Should hotels advertise the speed of their Internet?

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What To Do When The Hotel WiFi Doesn't Work: 5 Fixes to Try

November 5, 2013 at 10:41 AM | by | Comments (3)

It's one of the most frustrating aspects of a hotel stay these days--busted hotel WiFi. Short of traveling with your own WiFi network, there's not much you can do when the hotel's network is down. But before you start raising hell to the front desk about how you can't get on the internet, make sure you really can't get on in the internet first. Here are a few fixes to try. Good luck!

1. Make sure you're connected to the right hotel network. A lot of fake or poseur networks will pop up as a way to entice naive guests into signing onto that network and unknowingly, give all their private information away. Sadly, these internet pirates are a way of digital life now. So be sure to find out the correct network to sign onto from the hotel. Most hotels will offer this information on a card placed near the desk or on the key card envelope giving at check-in.

2. Make sure you've entered the right password, name or room number. This sounds like advice from Captain Obvious but often times, hotel networks will ask for a combination of your last name, your room number and a special passcode. Make sure you've entered all three correctly and in the right boxes. We've been known to enter in the room number in the name box and vice versa. (But only after we've been raiding the minibar booze.)

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At Last! Mandarin Oriental Offers Free WiFi (So Long As You Book Directly With Them)

October 28, 2013 at 4:23 PM | by | Comment (1)

While Mandarin Oriental Hotels have an impressive collection of hotels that never fail to dazzle, we've always been a bit annoyed by their WiFi charges, especially since their rooms don't come cheap. For example, at the Mandarin Oriental Paris, rooms cost over $1,000 USD but the hotel also charges another $20 for WiFi. Mon dieu! However, that will now change.

Mandarin Oriental has announced that they will give its guests complimentary internet access to those guests who create an online profile and book published rates through the hotel's own website. A-ha, we see what you've done here.

You can create your Mandarin Oriental online profile here. It's free to do but it does require you filling out some personal information like your name, address and gender. This will no doubt means you will be receiving some marketing mail, both paper and electronic, from Mandarin Oriental.

However, Mandarin Oriental does stress that they will offer you the best rate on their site. And if you find a better rate, Mandarin Oriental will not only match the rate, but they will offer you a further 10 percent reduction. And once you make your reservation through Mandarin Oriental, you'll get free internet access for up to six personal devices.

That's pretty rad. We hate having to jump through this online profile hoop but it does seem like it will pay off during our next stay. Now, if only we can scrounge up a $1,000 for the Mandarin Oriental Paris.

[Photo of Mandarin Oriental Paris: JasonD/HotelChatter]

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Marriott Berlin Has Worked On Its Rooms, Still Needs To Work On Its WiFi

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Inge Beisheim Platz, Berlin, Germany
September 19, 2013 at 9:19 AM | by | Comments (0)

There are times when we truly feel there is much progress being made on the free hotel WiFi front, and we dare to dream of a day where we hardly remember it ever being any other way. And then there are moments that bring us right back down to earth, like at the Berlin Marriott.

It was over four years ago we first came across its costly WiFi options, running all the way up to €379 ($500+) for the privilege of browsing the internet for a month. 2013 it may be, but the Berlin Marriott is still living in 2009, with the exact same options today:

- €5.95 ($8) for an hour of in-room access

- €19.95 ($27) for 24 hours

- €99.75 ($135) for one week

- €379.05 ($510 in today’s dollars) for one month

That month-long option wouldn’t be far off a month’s rent for an apartment, this being one of the most affordable European capitals. Please Mr. Marriott, even Edition can offer it for free throughout the hotel, so could we move along with the times?

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Yet Another Step For Accor With Free WiFi In The UK

August 28, 2013 at 9:30 AM | by | Comments (0)

After a batch of 500 hotels last year, and upgrades in Latin America, Accor Hotels is taking another step towards its hinted-at group-wide free WiFi with the news that all properties in the United Kingdom will offer this gratis going forward.

That’s 194 hotels in one fell swoop, across ibis budget, ibis, ibis Styles, Novotel, Mercure, Pullman and MGallery brands. Pullman only recently entered the UK market amidst plans to double the number of upscale hotels carrying the name to 150 by the end of this decade. The three Sofitel hotels (London St. James, Heathrow and Gatwick Airport) already offer free WiFi today.

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Gooooooal! Accor Upgrades Their WiFi in Latin America

July 25, 2013 at 9:32 AM | by | Comments (0)

Accor Hotels is making good on their promises to deliver free WiFi to all their hotels around the world, by partnering up with Ruckus Wireless to standardize the free WiFi offerings at more than 100 Accor hotels in Latin America. Which is a smart move in anticipation of the crowds from the upcoming World Cup and Summer Olympics.

The Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi infrastructure will support Accor's free Wi-Fi available in leading brands such as ibis, ibis budget, Mercure, Novotel, Pullman, and Sofitel. Accor initiated deployment of its Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi networks last year, and has since completed installation of thousands of Ruckus ZoneFlex™ access points (APs) within these hotels.

And if you really want to get nerdy, here's exactly what Accor is deploying in their hotel WiFi networks: Ruckus ZoneFlex 7341 high performance, 802.11n mid-range indoor access points featuring Ruckus-patented BeamFlex™ adaptive antenna technology. Ruckus Wireless recently worked to upgrade the WiFi system for Sandals Resorts in the Caribbean.

Apparently, the new system is working well, really well. According to Accor, the new quality of WiFi service rankings with the new network have increased up to 65 percent. Which is kind of a no-brainer to us. If you can make WiFi free and fast, then you're gonna have happy hotel guests. We've only been saying this since like, 2004.

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HotelChatter Flashback: What the Hotel WiFi Options Were Like in 2004

June 20, 2013 at 5:28 PM | by | Comments (0)

It's time for a walk down memory lane with a HotelChatter flashback!

Way back in 2004, HotelChatter put together its first ever WiFi Report. Check out who made the first annual Best and Worst Hotel WiFi lists.

Best
· Kimpton Hotels (still doing it free for their InTouch members)
· Omni Hotels (still doing it free for their Omni Select Guest members)
· Marriott's Residence Inn (still free!)
· Best Western (still free!)
· Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Express (still free!)

Worst
· Marriott Hotels (free in lobbies, most charge in-room, except if you are an elite member of their loyalty program)
· Fairmont Hotels (free for members of their President's Club)
· Hilton Hotels (free in lobbies, most charge in-room except if you are an elite member of their loyalty program)
· Hyatt Hotels (still charges for WiFi except if you are an elite member of their loyalty program)
· Any other hotel that charges for WiFi in the lobby (plenty of hotels still do this, particularly if you aren't a hotel guest.

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One Night at The Jade Hotel in the West Village

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 52 W 13th St. [map], New York, NY, United States, 10011
June 20, 2013 at 12:09 PM | by | Comments (0)

Is The Jade Worth Your Green? A HotelChatter Review

The other week, after a budget hotel gone wrong in Hell's Kitchen, we fled downtown to the Jade Hotel on W. 13th and Sixth Avenue. And thanks to HotelTonight, we paid just $260 for the night. But if we had to, we would pay more and here's why.

For starters, the Jade has an incredible location. It's close to all things in the West Village and it's just a few blocks away from the happenings of Union Square. But it's also one block away from a subway stop that will quickly take you out to the LES or Brooklyn. You can even go to Jersey on the PATH train. Second, the rooms are petite but heavenly with thoughtful touches like an intricate cabinet that hides the TV, a mirrored armoire instead of a closet and a working rotary phone. Most importantly, they are quiet, which was our number one request.

If only the internet had worked in the morning, we may never have left the spot.

Read on for the full review!

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Courtyard By Marriott is Making Sure Their Internet Is Up to Speed, Literally

June 19, 2013 at 3:34 PM | by | Comment (1)

Courtyard by Marriott is not only working on a new look for their guestrooms but they're also getting serious about their internet speeds.

In our 2013 WiFi Report, we took a special look at what are considered good working WiFi speeds at hotels. (One to 5mbps is a fairly good speed that will allow you to get all your basic internet activities done.) We've since been keeping track of hotel WiFi speeds on this story here.

Courtyard has already recognized the important of free WiFi (which they've offered for years) but now they're implementing certain internet standards for their general managers to follow. These include implementing definitive internet strategies for each property and working with certified internet service providers. (Hopefully, that will eliminate such mishaps as this one.)

Word is compliance for these standards will begin in July so by next year, Courtyard will not only have super cool new rooms but (fingers crossed), super cool working WiFi as well.