Only a few years ago, T1-speed Internet access in a hotel's ballroom and guest rooms was still a pretty neat story. Today, wireless access is the buzz, and lately we've been blitzed with major announcements from hotel chains pushing into the Wi-Fi arena. Here's a rundown:
February 3: Omni Hotels announces that it will have free wireless high-speed Internet access in guest rooms and some public space in 30 of its 32 owned and managed properties by year's end. (Repeat: It's free, and it's in the guest rooms!)
February 27: In conjunction with Intel, which is rolling out a new technology called Centrino that allows wireless connection capabilities to be built into laptop and notebook computers, Marriott International commits to bringing wireless hot spots to 200 additional hotels this spring. The chain already has wireless access at about 200 properties — typically in the lobbies and/or meeting spaces. Marriott's pricing for wireless access in the United States is $2.95 for the first 15 minutes and 25 cents for each additional minute.
March 5: Hilton Hotels & Resorts says it will have high-speed wireless hot spots in 50 hotels in the next 30 days (in meeting rooms and public spaces), and promises high-speed access in all of the brand's 230 hotels in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Like Marriott, Hilton made its announcement in conjunction with Intel.
March 11: InterContinental Hotels & Resorts announces a wireless pilot program in public areas at its properties in Chicago and Houston. Members of its loyalty and recognition programs get free access for one hour a day.
March 13: Intel is also marketing Centrino with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, which announced the completion of wireless installations in all 41 of its properties. Hot spots are in public areas.