Hotel Wi-Fi is one of those touchstone issues travellers love to talk about. Who’s got the best? And who’s got it for free?
There’s a new study out from Hotel WiFi Test that ranks hotels around the world, which is a great idea.
The bad news for Canadians is there’s no Canada table. But there is date for Europe and the U.S. and Asia, so it’s still pretty useful. And a bit surprising.
Despite continuing criticism, there are far too many hotels in the U.S. that charge for Wi-Fi, which I’ve argued is like charging for water in the shower or the toilet. Wi-Fi is not a luxury, people, it’s a necessity. So get with the program.
Anyway, the Hotel WiFi Test people checked 50 hotel chains around the globe and found that the best service comes from a hotel group called Nordic Choice. The test found that 85 per cent of their properties offer adequate WiFi in terms of download and upload speeds, while ALL of their hotels offer the service for free. Amen to that, Nordic Choice.
Coming second worldwide was Radisson Blu, and then Renaissance.
In the U.S., Hotel WiFi Test looked at 25 chains and ranked Marriott at the top, followed by Westin, Hyatt, Sheraton and Best Western. The worst five were Hilton Garden Inn (21st), Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, Extended Stay America and Hampton Inn (dead last at 25th).
The group found that Marriott Hotels have the highest quality, but they also found only 17 per cent of their U.S. properties offer Wi-Fi for free. Westin was just slightly behind Marriott in terms of quality but has more free Wi-Fi hotels. Hyatt was right there with Westin in terms of quality from the chart I saw, but Hyatt recently made all their hotel Wi-Fi free. To me, that more than outweighs the slight advantage in quality that Marriott earned in the report. If I were judging the competition, I’d probably give Hyatt the gold medal for the U.S., not Marriott.
As for Europe, the study gave top rankings to Nordic Choice, Radisson Blu and Hilton Hotels and Resorts. The worst European ranking was for NH Hotels. The study noted that Hilton has much better Wi-Fi quality in Europe (73 per cent ) than in the U.S. (only 25 per cent with adequate Wi-Fi).
In Asia, the top three were Intercontinental, Oberoi and Marriott, while the worst was Aston Archipelago. The report noted that 82 per cent of Marriott Hotels in Asia offer adequate Wi-Fi, compared to just 47 per cent in the U.S. and 64 per cent in Europe.
Which shows, again, how much better hotel service tends to be in Asia than in the rest of the world. And now North Americans often seem to get the short end of the Wi-Fi stick.
TWO AWESOME FOUR SEASONS RESORTS
Had a chance to catch up with Brad Packer, who represents two marvellous Four Seasons properties; the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at historic Ka’upulehu on the Kona coast of the Big Island of Hawaii and the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora in Tahiti. They’re making significant changes at both.
I had the good fortune to stay at the Hualalai property in January and was floored by the service, the food and the atmosphere. It’s the best resort I’ve stayed at anywhere in the world, bar none. But they’re going ahead and updating many of the rooms and improving service. One service addition is what’s called an oceanfront concierge, who’ll be able to help you with dinner reservations or with booking a spa treatment while you lounge on the beach and sip your Mai-Tai. Decadent. They’re also adding a new level of dedicated concierge service to their top 10 suites. The special concierge will know their guests preferences, Packer said, which means they could do anything from arrange a waterfall viewing with a dedicated sommelier serving your favourite wine to arranging a private concert with your kids’ favourite band, assuming the band is available of course.
In October they’ll be hosting a Chef Fest event at Hualalai, where you can get intimate, interactive cooking instructions from Canadian-born celebrity chef Hugh Acheson, Seamus Mullen and others. You could even choose to try stand-up paddle boarding with the chefs, who might be better at stirring spoons than padding a surfboard…
At the Bora Bora property, which I’ve not had the pleasure of visiting, they’re adding plunge pools to 15 or so of the overwater bungalows. Which is crazy decadent in my book. They’re also adding three separate two-bedroom overwater suites for families who want the overwater experience. In addition, they’re adding more services for folks who book the beachfront villas.
I didn’t know this, but high season in Tahiti actually is July and August; the driest months. It’s a bit more moist in January and February, when most Canadians want to travel. But it’s also cheaper.
Tahiti is only about eight hours from Los Angeles, so it’s not at all like flying to Australia or New Zealand or Fiji.
I was there a few years ago and stayed at another property on Bora Bora, which might be the most beautiful island on earth. The rest of Tahiti is almost as stunning, so you really can’t go wrong with a visit to the island of Tahiti, Moorea, Taha’a, Huahine or the other islands.