Friday, June 06, 2008

Information Superhighway Robbery!

Hermione and I booked our accommodations last night for our trip next week to Toronto for NXNE. Since we'd done quite well with Hotwire, we went that route again. Last year, we scored a room at the Westin Harbor Castle - which sits on Lake Ontario at the foot of Yonge St. - for $76/day though taxes and parking drove the final ticket up to $120/day. Because you don't know where you'll be staying until AFTER you book the trip and pay for it, there is an element of gambling, but the star ratings are helpful that it will be at least of a certain quality.

We got the Hilton this time and it's proximity to the conference site and other activities is quite good. We may be able to walk to most things instead of needing to drive and that good. The reviews at Trip Advisor are pretty depressing and negative with lots of complaints of shoddy, dirty rooms and poor service, but the Westin also had lousy reviews and turned out to be probably the best hotel we've ever stayed in. We didn't have a single significant complaint about our stay.

But one...

We've usually stayed at the Courtyard Marriott or Day's Inn and both of those joints provide FREE broadband Internet service; Day's Inn was wireless, Courtyard wired. However, the Westin and now the Hilton both charge ~$15 per day(!!!) for their web access and that's somewhere between obscene and killing-worthy. I pay $62 per month for my 6 Mbps connection and I'm supposed to pay 3/4 of that for three frakking days?!? I know they're doing this to gouge the business travelers, but it's a joke. Last year, I got lucky and was able to piggyback on some Apple user (heh) on the floor below, but that only lasted a couple of days before they checked out.

Now, if the room was $90/day and had *free* Intarwebz would I be so chapped about it? Probably not. We're used to paying in the neighborhood of $110-$120 per night for a room, so a nice room for a higher price with *free* web would seem like a deal, but since I can see how the sausage is being made, I'm going to have to find alternate means of connection and that frankly sucks. Yes, it's a mental hangup, but it's also a gank by the hotels. The normal rack rate for these places is $240-$320/night and considering that like what I pay for rent, it makes the omission of free Net all the more galling.

UPDATE: I was able to hop on an open wifi connection that I was able to snag on the 15th floor, though it was spotty. When I did trivia, I took my laptop to the sushi place and surfed a solid open signal. It worked out and the Hilton - who clearly aren't spending the Intarwebz access grift on carpet shampooing; ugh - didn't get a cent off me.

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