Free Internet access, already a standard across many major U.S. midprice brands, slowly is beginning to creep into upscale properties. So far, only Omni, Radisson and Kimpton have embraced that standard brandwide, but several individual upscale properties also have done so.

The most recent convert was the Hilton San Francisco Financial District, which recently completed a $45 million renovation project. At the beginning of the year, the property announced that both its wired and wireless Internet access would no longer carry a charge, a decision based on conversations with hotel guests.

"They all love the new hotel layout and fresh décor but had a complaint about upscale hotels in general," according to Mark Everton, the property's general manager. "We kept hearing variations of the same question: 'How can upscale hotels in San Francisco that charge between $200 and $400 a night charge for high-speed Internet access, when many of the limited-service hotels offer it for free?'"

Maria Chevalier, vice president of global business intelligence for BCD Travel's Advito consulting division, liked that line of thinking and said she wouldn't be surprised to see more properties in the tier making the same decision. "I agree with their strategy of saying 'enough' on the rate," she said. "When you evaluate your cost of stay, it does make a difference."

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