Is Free Wi-Fi Part of Your Vacation Package?

A vacation used to mean relaxation with time away from the reality of your daily life, but now most of us are unable to let go of the connections we have with our daily life. We take our smart phones, tablets and laptops on vacation. And even if we take the high road and leave all devices at home, many of us will soon be scouring the resort for a way to connect to home, to check emails and Facebook and any way we can to keep up with family and friends. We might even want to let everyone know what fun we are having!

Access Comes in Many Forms

Many resorts advertise free Wi-Fi access, but it’s a good idea to do your homework to find out exactly what is meant by “free.”  There may be some limitations. Some resorts may charge an extra fee for high-speed internet connections. Some resorts include internet access as part of a nightly resort fee.  From a management point of view charging for wireless service is a source of revenue that can’t be overlooked, but travelers like to see it as part of the package. This presents a challenge for some resorts where scores of folks try to download or stream content live at the same time.  Hence the solution to offer two tiers of service in many cases.

A Popular Perk for Members

Resorts may use standard Wi-Fi and/or high-speed internet as an upgrade perk. After all, a high-speed connection does give guests more optimum use of the internet. Some resorts offer access free as a reward to its higher level members, for instance, Occidental Vacation Club’s Grand Level Members receive free access as part of the Grand Level Membership package.
Another resort company that uses Wi-Fi as a perk for members is Starwood. The company provides complimentary internet as part of the best-in-class rewards and benefits given to their loyal customers. Starwood Vacation Owners may choose free Wi-Fi as a benefit when checking Platinum Member guests receive complimentary in-room access as an additional in-hotel benefit. Additionally, Starwood gives complimentary internet to all guests at Aloft, Element and Four Points by Sheraton Hotels and Resorts in North America, and in the lobbies of Sheraton and W Hotels. They do not limit the number of devices guests can hook up in-room.
Similarly, Marriot, Hilton and Hyatt also offer Wi-Fi as part of their higher tiered membership rewards.

Check to See How Many Actual Devices can be hooked up

Other resorts may have a limit on how many devices per guest can actually be hooked up to the internet. In a recent report on, Fairfield Inn and Suites, part of Marriott International, was mentioned by a guest. The free Wi-Fi offered at Fairfield Inn had a limit of one device per guest. It cost an extra $3.95 a day for each additional device.  Extra fees may or may not be mentioned in internet advertising, so it’s another reason to check with someone at the resort who is in charge.

Access Codes

Hospitality Net also warns to beware of access codes. The Atlas Hotel in Brussels advertises on its homepage “Free Wireless High-Speed Internet Access” in all rooms and several areas of the hotel. Guests have to obtain a code at the front desk to gain access to the internet. What came as a surprise to reps from Hospitality Net was that the hotel would only give them one code per room, limiting them to one device per room. It didn’t matter if the room was a double, twin or duplex…one code was it.

Charging a Fee for Wi-Fi— May Not be the Best Revenue Source

Tom Carr at All offers a few reasons as to why these extra charges for Wi-Fi are not really in the resort’s best interest. He suggests in the long run, resorts may make more revenue by offering free Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi may be one of the deciding reasons that guests choose the resort. Guests may be inclined to extend their stay a little longer if there is a free, reliable internet connection at the resort where they can work at the beach or from the pool. Also, internet use for such things as guest check-ins with Foursquare or Facebook, Flickr uploads, status updates, and tweets to friends can provide free advertising for the hotel.

Fully Wired Resorts

Disney World Resorts

Disney World Resorts are fully wired in both their resort hotels and theme parks. Working with provider AT&T, Disney provides complimentary High Speed Wireless Internet Access in all guest rooms.  In addition, Free Wi-Fi can also be accessed in most places throughout the resort—lobby areas, restaurants, pools and more.

MGM Resorts

MGM has wired eight of its resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. There is no fee or password required to access the local area network via phones, laptops and tablets.  MGM has teamed with the Cisco Systems network to make each resort a wireless hotspot with access available in rooms, the casino, pool, lobby and restaurants. Guests wanting more bandwidth may buy upgrades. Hotel guests receive the faster service as part of their stay.
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