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High-Speed Hotels

Just a few short years ago, trying to connect to the Internet from your hotel room was an iffy proposition, with many older properties having noisy phone lines that resulted in extremely low-connection speeds. Today, most major business-oriented hotels offer some form of high-speed Net access — either wired (Ethernet) or wireless (Wi-Fi).

The odds of finding high-speed Net access runs in direct proportion to your room rate. Almost all luxury, upscale, and midprice hotels that cater to business travelers offer it; most economy chains — and chains catering to family vacationers — don’t. If your favorite upscale hotel doesn’t have high-speed Net access yet, just wait a few months, and it will. In the midprice category, business travel-oriented chains have rolled out free high-speed Net access as a standard feature to all or most of their properties.

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The following chains offer free in-room high-speed Net access as a standard feature:

  • Best Western (all properties by September)
  • Clarion (free in-room Wi-Fi planned for all hotels by mid-2004)
  • Comfort Suites (free in-room Wi-Fi planned for all hotels by mid-2004)
  • Courtyard
  • Country Inns & Suites
  • Doubletree Club Hotels
  • Four Points by Sheraton
  • Residence Inn
  • TownePlace Suites
  • SpringHill Suites
  • Fairfield Inn (all properties by mid-2004)
  • Staybridge
  • Hampton Inns
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Holiday Inn
  • Holiday Inn Select
  • Holiday Inn Express
  • Wingate (also offers free in-room Wi-Fi)

Pricing and availability at higher-end properties is all over the board, with hotels charging from $9.95-$14.95/day or offering free access. In addition, look for programs and packages like Marriott’s Wired for Business (also offered at Renaissance Hotels), which offers high-speed Net access and unlimited local and long-distance phone calls (within the U.S.) for $9.95 per day ($12.95 in New York locations). Westin has a similar program for $16 in about half of its hotels.

Here is a roundup of wired Net access points:

Property Availability of in-room wired high-speed Net access Cost
Crowne Plaza All hotels by the end 2004 Pricing varies.
Howard Johnson About 12% of hotels (in the U.S. and Canada) Pricing varies.
Hyatt 80% of hotels have high-speed access (half are wired, half are Wi-Fi). Hyatt aims to have 100% of its hotels equipped by the end of 2004. Typically $9.95/day or free
InterContinental About 30-50%. Expected to be a standard feature by Q1 2005. Between $9.95/day and $14.95/day
Marriott Most hotels “Wired For Business” program for $9.95
Radisson Availability varies by hotel and room. Typically $9.95/day or free
Ramada About 25% of hotels (in the U.S. and Canada) Majority offer the service for free. Some charge up to $10/day.
Renaissance Most hotels “Wired For Business” program $9.95/day
Sheraton In-room wired or wireless offered in most Sheraton guest rooms Approximately $9.99/day. Some properties offer a telecom package for $15.99/day.
W Hotels All hotels Between $9.95 and $14.95
Westin Over 90% of hotels Between $9.95 and $14.95. Telecom package for $16/day.
Wyndham About 90% of hotels Typically $9.95/day. Free for By Request Members.

Typical high-speed hotel Net service is relatively easy to use. You connect an Ethernet cable supplied by the hotel to a high-speed modem in your room and your PC. Your computer should recognize the new connection — and vice versa — and, after taking a few minutes to subscribe, you should be up and running. You don’t even need to change any of your laptop’s network settings.

Some hotels are skipping wired Net access completely and going directly to wireless, via the Wi-Fi standard. With a Wi-Fi connection, all you need is a wireless access card in your PC and you’re ready to connect — no cables to fuss with. I will explore Wi-Fi further in a future column.

Special Offer: Four Points by Sheraton is currently running a unique promotion. If you stay at any participating Four Points by Sheraton three times between April 1 and May 28, 2004, they will give you a free Linksys Wi-Fi card. You must be a Starwood Preferred Guest to earn a free Wi-Fi card.