by Jonathan Hassell
Wonderful, thinks I, now I can catch up on e-mail and put the finishing touches on my presentation for Saturday, and I won't have to pay for it.
I wander to my room--up and left and then right and then left again and straight for a mile but turn at the vending machine and go northeast at the housekeeping closet and then left and right again and it's just right there, room 257--and scour the room, looking for a CAT5 data port. Nothing.
Perhaps this free access they speak of is wireless access, which is even better, I ponder. I open my notebook and Windows XP courageously samples the airwaves and returns two available but unsecured wireless networks--SDBay and iDockUSA.
Neither work. I fiddle for half an hour, and then I go back down to the front desk. I stopped off in Los Angeles on the way; it was more of a straight shot. The clerk sees me coming and pastes her grin on.
"How can I help you?"
"I'd like to know about this free Internet access," I say, pointing to the sign. "I've fiddled for a while and I think you need to activate it or something."
"Oh, that is only for our Harborview guests."
"We can give you the Internet access, but it's $10 extra per day." She smiles a bit harder now to emphasize the deal I am getting.
"But the sign says 'complimentary Internet access for guests,' and I'm a guest. You just billed me for a nine-night stay; I think I qualify." This is a $95/night hotel, not some Days Inn truckstop.
"I'm sorry, sir, but would you care to have the $10 billed to your room?"
"Give it to me for one night and I'll decide," I retorted. The clerk disappeared into the back room for a second, and then returned with a bunch of equipment in a Ziplock bag.
"Let us know if you need help setting it up!"
I retreat to my quarters and unpack the bag, which consists of a cable modem, a splitter, three coax cables, and an impossibly short CAT5 patch cable. They gave me a modem?
I look out the window across the street, to the Dolphin motel. The billboard beckons: "$39/night - FREE WIRELESS HIGH-SPEED INTERNET"
What are your experiences with high-speed Internet access in hotels? Do you share in my frustration or do you have a happier report?
Internet = extra profit
While I do run across free Internet access from time-to-time, most hotels seem to equate "Internet access" with "extra profit".
Hampton Inn in Castle Rock, CO
Free internet was advertised from the highly visible sign on Interstate 25. Since I was staying for three days to ramp up for a new project and had other work still to do, it was the obvious choice. When I asked about it, the clerk told me there was an ethernet cable on the desk, just plug it in, set the control panel to use DHCP and I should be good to go.
I will only stay in hotels that have free high-speed, and I travel pretty frequently. Avoid anything that says 'data ports' - that usually means pay+dial-up. Every hotel I've been in has the ethernet port right on a desk and my powerbook is ready to go in seconds. Marriott's Web site does list their brands' ammenities nicely, including online access. I always check that out and the generic Yahoo yellow pages for hotels in the area before using a travel site. I find that if I research places and then go to reserve later, the price goes up...