Photo (cc) by Kai Hendry
Mirror, mirror on the wall, which major hotel chain has the best, free Wi-Fi of all?
The answer is complicated.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Marriott International, which has more than 4,000 hotels worldwide, this month began offering free Wi-Fi to guests who have signed up for its loyalty rewards program.
Apparently not to be outdone, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., with 1,200 hotels, next month will offer free wireless Internet access to guests who both sign up for its loyalty program and book a room through Starwood, instead of services like Expedia and Orbitz, the LAT reports.
Of course, the hidden cost of free Internet is that you’re shelling out your personal information for the loyalty program. But it may be worth it once you consider how much money you stand to save.
“For instance, the San Francisco Marriott Marquis charges $14.95 a night for Internet; the Sheraton Atlanta, $12.95 a night; and the Hyatt Regency Chicago charges anywhere from $9.95 to $39.95 a night, depending on the connection speed,” The Associated Press said.
But not all big hotel chains provide free Wi-Fi with strings attached, the AP said. Beginning in February, Hyatt Hotels Corp., which operates 600 hotels worldwide, will offer all of its guests free Wi-Fi, regardless of their club membership status or which service they used to book their hotel room.
According to the AP, Kristine Rose, vice president of brands for Hyatt, said in a statement:
Internet connectivity is no longer an amenity. It has become an integral part of travelers’ daily lives and a basic expectation. Travelers shouldn’t have to remember which brands or locations offer it for free or the strings attached to get it.
InterContinental Hotels Group, which owns Holiday Inn, started offering its loyalty program guests free Internet a year ago.
Hilton Worldwide is the biggest hotel holdout when it comes to offering guests free Internet, the AP wrote.
Of course, lots of other smaller hotels and hotel chains provide Internet access free of charge. Click here for HotelChatter’s brand-by-brand breakdown of hotels with free Wi-Fi.
What do you think about having to either pay for Wi-Fi or sign up for a loyalty program to access free Internet? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.