Wi-Fi Update. Some Hotels Still Charge for Internet

Boca Raton luxury resort

Boca Raton Resort where Wi-Fi is in the resort fee. Photo: Tim Leffel

Back in January 2016, we wondered about which hotels still charged for Wi-Fi, particularly since surveys from Trip Advisor  (2013) and Hotels.com (2014) found free Wi-Fi high on the list of amenities that most guests want. More recently, Christopher Elliot, consumer advocate and journalist with a strong focus on travel included free Wi-Fi as an amenity that guests expect in an article he wrote in USA Today, Oct. 2017.

Guests may expect free Wi-Fi, but they aren’t always getting it, particularly without hotel brand loyalty. In January 2016, the list of hold-outs ranged from a Motel 6 in Middleburg Heights, Ohio near Cleveland to the Ritz-Carlton New York at Central Park. Each of these hotels had a charge to connect into cyberspace.

Sheraton Cleveland Airport where a loyalty program membership means free Wi-Fi. Photo: Jamie Rhein

Two and a half years later, not much has changed in the totally free without strings attached Wi-Fi landscape. In many cases, the path to free Wi-Fi requires becoming a loyalty member of a hotel brand. The Ritz-Carlton New York at Central Park is one of those hotels. So is the Sheraton. If you want free Wi-Fi thanks to your Sheraton SPG membership, you have to book your room through the Sheraton website.

Your rewards membership to Marriott hotels like the Marriott Cleveland Airport also gets you free basic internet, however there’s a $5 charge for high speed. Non-rewards members pay $14.95 for basic and $19.95 for high speed.

Almost two years later from our last look, the Westin Cleveland Downtown still charges for internet use for non-rewards members, however if you book a package like the “Batter Up Package” free Internet use is included along with free valet parking and a complimentary charcuteirie board from the hotel’s restaurant Urban Farmer.

The DoubleTree by Hilton is another hotel that bundles free Wi-Fi into another service. Look for the Breakfast & Wi-Fi package for this deal.

doubletree hilton, new york times square west, hotel, manhattan hotel, new york

DoubleTree by Hilton New York Times Square West. Photo by Nancy D. Brown

And in other cases, Wi-Fi is offered as a bundle with other amenities under the umbrella of  “resort fee.” At the Boca Raton Resort and Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, the $35 resort fee gives guests: access to Wi-Fi, welcome drinks, two fitness centers, beach chairs and beach towel use, golf driving range use and a Mizner’s Quest Discovery tour.

In some tourist locations, such as Las Vegas and St. Petersburg Beach in Florida, the dreaded resort fee has become an epidemic. Nearly every hotel, chain or otherwise, has joined the cartel and decided that WiFi needs to be thrown in with other normally free items (like “gym access”) to justify an extra hand in your pocket. If you can find one of the good ones that bucks the trend, reward them with a reservation!

In general, independent hotels, such as B&Bs, nearly never charge anymore. Neither do most of the budget and mid-range hotel brands, though now there are two tiers of service usually.

About that Motel 6 in Middleburg Heights, Ohio. Wi-Fi is now free, but if you want a high speed internet connection, there is a fee.

Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Journalists Association.

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