Need for Speed
Once you've gotten used to zipping around the net with a high-speed connection at your home or office, the dial-up connection you might have to use at a hotel seems as slow as molasses. Luckily, major hotel chains have been installing in-room, high-speed connections, but until now, they charged about $10 per day. Good news: That fee is disappearing.
- Wingate Inn
- was one of the first midscale hotel chains to offer free high-speed Internet access as part of its price (about $99 per night). You'll also find free high-speed wireless access at an increasing number of the chain's 130 properties. Wingate Inn hotels will have free wireless Internet access installed in all guestrooms and public areas by the end of the first quarter of 2004.
- now offers free high-speed Internet access at all its Courtyard hotels. By the end of this year, free high-speed access will be available at Marriott's Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites and TownePlace Suites brands. At full-service Marriott and Renaissance hotels, you'll still pay $9.95 per day for a high-speed connection.
- Omni Hotels
- offers guests free wireless high-speed Internet access at 38 of its 40 hotels nationwide
- offers free high-speed access at all Hilton Garden Inn properties. Elsewhere in the giant chain, which includes Embassy Suites Hotels, DoubleTree and Hilton Hotels, access to a high-speed line (wired or wireless) in your hotel room is hit or miss. You get high-speed access at selected Hampton Inns, but only in the hotel business center, not necessarily in the room.
- offers high-speed lines in every room at its 16 W Hotels and at some of its Four Points, Sheraton or Westin properties. But the service is not free; prices range from $4.95 to $14.95. Only Four Points offers the service free of charge.
Chris McGinnis, travel correspondent for CNN Headline News, is author of The Unofficial Business Travelers' Pocket Guide.