Q Are there hotel chains that have free wireless Internet access?
ATwenty-five percent of travelers say they plan to use wireless electronics on their next trip, according to a study by the communications company SBC Communications, so Wi-Fi installations at hotels are quickly becoming a big deal -- and a sought-after amenity.
Quite a few of the large chains offer wireless access in all or almost all of their properties in the United States and Canada. Among them are Best Western (800-780-7234, www.bestwestern.com), with wireless access in the Caribbean, too, and Wingate Inns (800-228-1000, www.wingateinns.com). A thousand Holiday Inns (866-655-4669, www.holiday-inn.com) in North America are wireless, in lobbies and some guest rooms. Most Marriott Residence Inns (888-236-2427, www.marriott.com) have Wi-Fi in nearly all business centers or lobbies and many guest rooms. Doubletree Hotels (800-222-8733, www.doubletree.com) are scheduled to be fully wireless by June 30. Hyatt (888-591-1234, www.hyatt.com) plans to install Wi-Fi in all of its U.S. hotels by June.
Smaller chains are catching on as well. Omni Hotels (800-843-6664, www.omnihotels.com) was one of the first to make free wireless access available in its 37 hotels and rents wireless equipment at some front desks. The 39 boutique properties owned by the Kimpton Hotels group (800-546-7866, www.kimptonhotels.com) went fully wireless last month.
The Wi-Fi Free Spot Web site (www.wififreespot.com) lists other chains, plus access points at airports, cafes and rental properties. Other places to search include Wi-Fi Alliance (www.wi-fizone.org) and the Hotspot Haven (www.hotspothaven.com), which singles out free locales.
My family would like to go to James Bay in Canada this summer. Is it possible to drive? What lodging is available?