Hotel Stay Coming Up? Ric Garrido of Loyalty Traveler Looks at Free Internet Rules in 2015.
Many economy and midscale hotel brands have offered free Internet for years. The upper upscale and luxury brands remain the final frontier for Internet access fees. Since 2012, the number of hotels charging for Internet has dropped by half. Only 11 percent of hotels in a recent poll by American Hotel & Lodging Association stated they charge for in-room WiFi.
Recent Internet access policy changes from Hyatt, Marriott and Starwood greatly expand free Internet access across upscale and luxury hotel chains for 2015. Still, there are differences in the free Internet policies you need to know. Some hotel brands like Starwood and Marriott limit free Internet to their hotel loyalty program members booking through their own hotel channels. Some hotels require guests to pay for premium speed. Some loyalty programs offer elite members free premium access. Another issue in Internet policies is limitations on the number of devices a guest may connect per room. This is not covered in the free Internet access policies provided on most hotel brand websites. Most hotel chains now offer free Internet to all loyalty members across their range of hotel brands.
Accor Hotels – Offers free Internet worldwide for Le Club Accorhotels elite members at 3,700 hotels including Pullman, Sofitel, Mercure and Novotel. Ibis, Ibis Budget, Ibis Styles and Novotel offer free WiFi for all guests at more than 2,200 hotels in 59 countries.
Best Western – All Best Western hotels in the U.S., Canada and Caribbean offer free high-speed Internet access to all guests. Most international hotels also offer free Internet. Best Western has 4,000 hotels worldwide.
Choice Hotels – Choice Privileges embers receive complimentary high speed Internet at 9 of 10 Choice Hotels brands, including Comfort Inn, Quality Inn and Clarion. Economy brand Rodeway Inn is the exception. There are over 6,000 hotels worldwide. Club Carlson – Offers all loyalty members free Internet worldwide at over 1,300 hotels.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts – Offers free Internet access at Fairmont, Swissotel and Raffles hotels worldwide for Fairmont President’s Club members.
Global Hotel Alliance – GHA has 465 hotels across 61 countries in 27 brands including Omni, Kempinski, Pan Pacific and Thon Hotels. All GHA Discovery members receive free Internet access.
Hilton Worldwide – Hilton is the only major global hotel chain without a global free Internet policy, perhaps, in part due to introducing tiered Internet access fees in 2014. Hilton HHonors Gold and Diamond elites receive complimentary in-room and lobby WiFi Internet access as a loyalty benefit. Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites offer free Internet to all guests. These three brands comprise the majority of Hilton’s 4,300 hotels worldwide.
Hyatt Hotels – Hyatt offers free WiFi for all Hyatt guests around the world as of February 2015. The free Internet benefit does not require Hyatt Gold Passport membership and there are no Hyatt booking channel restrictions. All Hyatt guests get free WiFi access on an unlimited number of devices. Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond and Platinum elite members receive complimentary upgrade to premium WiFi service, where available. Hyatt’s reach is 573 hotels.
InterContinental Hotels Group – The launch of IHG Rewards Club in July 2013 coincided with free Internet worldwide for Gold and Platinum elites. All IHG Rewards Club members at 4,800 IHG hotels worldwide have had free Internet access since Jan. 1, 2014. Kimpton Hotels – Karma Rewards members receive free Internet for unlimited devices. Kimpton is now owned by IHG. Their Internet policies already seem aligned. Loews Hotels – Loews implemented free WiFi for every guest at all its hotels Jan. 22, 2014. The benefit does not apply to meeting rooms. Loews has nearly 25 hotels.
Marriott International – Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards members receive free in-room WiFi as of Jan. 15, 2015. You must book your room through a Marriott channel and the benefit does not apply to meeting rooms. Gold and Platinum elite members receive free “enhanced” WiFi. Marriott has 4,100 hotels worldwide.
Preferred Hotels Group – Preferred is a consortium of more than 500 hotels in 83 countries. All iPrefer members receive free Internet access.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts – SPG members who book through SPG channels will receive free Internet at Starwood Hotels as of Feb. 2, 2015. Starwood has 1,200 hotels worldwide.
Wyndham Hotels and Resorts – Wyndham International is the world’s largest hotel chain by hotels with over 7,000 globally. Wyndham ByRequest members receive free Internet access at nearly 200 Wyndham Hotels. Wyndham Rewards membership is not required for Internet access at other brands. Ramada offers free Internet access at 900 hotels in 50 countries. Days Inn (1,800 hotels) and Super 8 (2,400 hotels), along with 1,400 hotels in Baymont Inns & Suites, Hawthorn Suites, Howard Johnson, Microtel and Wingate offer free Internet access. Tryp Hotels offers free WiFi at most of its 119 hotels. Knights Inn and Travelodge do not publicize free Internet as a brand benefit, although most properties have this benefit. Travelodge in the U.K. allows 30 minutes free daily without access fees.