Free Wifi For All Marriott Rewards Members Starting In 2015

Marriott made a pretty major announcement today, which we should all be excited about.

Marriott Rewards adding free internet for all members

As of January 15, 2015, Marriott Rewards members will receive complimentary standard wifi as long as they make their reservation directly with Marriott (be it online, over the phone, or at a hotel). That’s a really smart move on the part of Marriott, as it further encourages people to book directly with Marriott rather than through a third party.

Marriott-Free-Wifi

This benefit will be available at over 3,800 properties, spanning their different brands. Free wifi is being added at Marriott Hotels, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Gaylord Hotels, Autograph Collection, AC Hotels by Marriott, Marriott Executive Apartments, and Ritz-Carlton.

I do think it’s worth specifically pointing out that Ritz-Carlton is now offering Marriott Rewards members free internet. It’s amazing that many luxury hotel brands still charge for internet, so it’s nice to see that this will no longer be the case with Ritz-Carlton if booking directly with them or Marriott.

Ritz-Carlton-Powerscourt
Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt

These properties will be joining the brands that already offer complimentary wifi, which include EDITION, Moxy, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Marriott Vacation Club.

Marriott Rewards Gold and Platinum members receive complimentary premium internet. So if there are multiple tiers of internet available, Gold and Platinum members can select the higher tier internet and have it removed from the bill at check-out.

The irony…

The irony is that this news comes just weeks after Marriott was fined by the FCC for blocking mobile hotspots. Rather than owning up to the fact that they were trying to profit off wifi as much as possible, they came up with the most ridiculous explanation I’ve ever heard:

“Marriott has a strong interest in ensuring that when our guests use our Wi-Fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft,” Jeff Flaherty, a company spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.

That’s right, they were blocking mobile hotspots in order to protect us!

How does Marriott’s internet policy stack up?

IHG Rewards Club was the first of the “big five” hotel programs (Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest) to introduce complimentary internet for all members as of early this year.

Interestingly a lot of the smaller chains offer free internet as a standard benefit for being a member, though it’s taking the big chains a while to catch on.

Keep in mind it wasn’t until a handful of years ago that hotels even started offering elite members complimentary internet, so all things considered benefits really are increasing at a rapid pace.

I suppose if you’d like to play devil’s advocate you can argue that this is a devaluation for elite members, since more people competing for the same amount of bandwidth slows things down in theory. But wifi really should be a free standard feature, so if anything it should prompt hotels to upgrade their technology. Hopefully.

Bottom line

Now that both IHG Rewards Club and Marriott will be offering all members free internet, I suspect that within the next year Hyatt and Starwood will match (you never know with Hilton!).

As far as Marriott goes, if only they’d add free breakfast for elite members at resorts, Platinum/Gold suite upgrades, guaranteed late check-out, and lower their elite qualification tiers, they might actually have a competitive rewards program. 😉

In fairness, I realize why people are loyal to Marriott — they have a massive global footprint, and at the end of the day having hotels where guests need to be is the number one driver of loyalty.

Marriott-GRU-Airport
Marriott Sao Paulo Airport

Comments

  1. I was just saying today that I avoid Marriott because I don’t have status there and end up paying $20 a day on internet.

  2. I was just saying today that I avoid Marriott because I don’t have status there and end up paying $20 a day on internet. So great move for me.

  3. It is about time for the whole idea of charging for internet at hotels to end. Hopefully this is one of the first dominos that will lead to all of these fees going away.

  4. Well hopefully the free internet doesn’t become so painfully slow that you need to buy up to the faster version to get anything done. As an elite I still expect to get the fastest available free.

  5. Since I have PP status with Marriott I am glad that it is so hard to reach. It limits the competition and as such properties go out of their way to treat PP well.

  6. Good to hear, and kudos. Usually only stay at a Marriott if friends and family insist on CHEAP- will make the stays nicer now. But free internet is… spotty.

    *also adds cash+points redemption option and a free award certificate with a 1-year (not 6 month) expiration date w. credit card as wish items for Marriott’s loyalty program*

  7. Wifi should be free in all hotels, the days of it being a luxury are gone, this is now a utility to most alongside electric and gas.

    I won’t stay if I gotta pay!

  8. Wonder what effect this will have on “resort fees”?

    Hyatts have been universally kind to waive them for this Diamond, but some Hiltons have totally lost this Diamond’s custom due to charging me fees for what I have already earned via loyalty…

  9. I am at a Residence Inn now and they have finally fully enabled the 2 tier system and the lower tier definitely took a big step down in speed. It wasn’t clear from above if the gold and platinums can get the higher tier free now or in January?

  10. Internet is something that’s very cheap for hotels to provide, and the rates that some of them, especially the upmarket brands, charge for it have been unconscionable for a long time. This is a really smart move on Marriott’s part because it recognizes supply and demand: hotels no longer have a captive audience to sell broadband to, because almost everyone has a mobile data plan. I’m guessing Marriott has been seeing a steady decline in the number of people willing to pay for hotel internet. Given those realities, it makes sense to give it away for free because it costs them little yet helps customers avoid going over their data plan limit – so Marriott provides a convenience that many will appreciate.

    The problem for me, though, is that often my hotel reservation is booked by someone else, such as a conference organizer. So, depending on how Marriott implements this, I might not benefit from it very much at all!

  11. @ dmodemd — Agree the wording on that was pretty confusing. They say that Gold and Platinum members can “continue” to enjoy the benefit, but it’s not a benefit yet, as far as I know? I would assume it kicks in now.

  12. @Lucky,
    When did Ritz Carlton start offering free wifi for non elite members? I thought they still charged in Sept.
    Thanks,
    Andy

  13. Hi Lucky,

    Only related by way of the photo you used here, but Powerscourt is sadly no longer a Ritz as of last October. Now an independent and part of Autograph Collection. Was great as a Ritz – wonder if they’ve maintained service standards under new ownership/management?

    Jim

  14. I think there’s a general feeling that while free internet is becoming commonplace, hotels are trying to extract money by slowing down “regular” connection and charging for “premium” speeds.

  15. Just stay at Kimpton Hotels. They were the first boutique group of hotels to offer free wifi to business guests 5 or 6 years ago.

  16. Not sure if one is just referring to boutique hotels, but the Wyndham group was really the first company to offer free internet well over a decade ago across their portfolio of hotels.

  17. It doesn’t even have to be 2015. I stayed at the JW Marriott Medan last week and received free Wi-Fi as I was a Marriot Rewards member, stated so on the login page “ALL MEMBERS RECEIVE COMPLIMENTARY INTERNET”. Though how widespread it is we’ll have to see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *