Finally: Marriott slowly moving towards free Wi-Fi

by Paul B. on March 9, 2010

The San Francisco Marriott Union Square is one of hundreds of hotels that will soon be giving away Wi-Fi.

The San Francisco Marriott Union Square is one of hundreds of hotels that will soon offer Wi-Fi free to loyal customers.

For years, Marriott Hotels and its sister brands JW Marriott and Renaissance have been charging for Wi-Fi in rooms, the sort of nickel-and-diming that we just can’t stand. (And we’re not the only ones sick of it.) But an email sent to the brands’ loyalty program members this morning announces some great news, at least for those with gold and platinum status:

Announcing a new Marriott Rewards benefit – starting May 7, free Internet access for all Gold and Platinum Elite members at nearly 450 hotels across the U.S. and Canada. Log on to the Internet free in guest rooms and public spaces; just check in and connect.

Looks like Marriott is taking its first, long-overdue step toward making wireless internet as free and as central to a hotel stay as hot water and cable TV.

A word of caution, though, for those hoping that Marriott may soon knock down the pay wall altogether: In April 2009, rival chain Hyatt started giving away wireless connections to its rewards-program guests — and the brand is still charging non-elite travelers for in-room Wi-Fi at hotels from Maui to Washington, D.C. Progress on the free internet front, it seems, is slow.

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