‘All Inclusive’ but not including WiFi

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I’ve recently returned from a two week summer holiday to Gran Canaria. We stayed in an ‘All Inclusive’ four star hotel in the Maspalomas, ideally located close to the beach, shopping centres and local nightlife.

Having weighed up other destinations and hotels, we decided to stick with something we knew we’d enjoy as we have previously stayed in the hotel 9 years ago. One of the dangers when returning to a hotel that you’ve stayed at previously is that you find yourself comparing it to the last time you were there and this can potentially spoil your experience. However, not in this instance… the hotel really lived up to our expectations.

That said, when we stayed there 9 years ago WiFi hadn’t quite arrived and it certainly wasn’t something we ‘expected’ with it being such new technology… laptops used to weigh a tonne and required a PCMCIA card to connect to WiFi, a smart phone was a Nokia 9500 which was the first device of its kind to have WiFi enabled and the only Apple device I owned was the iPod Classic (4th Gen).

Having looked on Trip Advisor before booking, the hotel had great reviews except for the WiFi. This was a common bugbear of most. Having to pay for WiFi at an All Inclusive resort. And it’s a bugbear of mine too. 6 euros for 24 hours, 12 euros for 3 days or 19 euros for a week, but it didn’t deter me.

Before we set off on our travels I made sure I took a nano-router with me (TP LINK TL-WR70N), as there was a good chance that the room had an internet connection or at least a nearby Ethernet port which would allow me to create my own wireless network. I’m quite techie and I was already taking my Macbook which I’d preloaded with movies so I could use the laptop as a power source for the router too. I also took my iPhone, iPad, & Kindle.

When we arrived, there were no visible Ethernet ports in the room or nearby corridors. I scouted the hotel and saw their Access Points were all external ones located on the rooftops and there was no way I’d have access. So, that was it, no free WiFi for me and the only option was to pay.

I resisted for the first two days, I kept telling myself I could cope being cut off from home. I didn’t need to check Facebook or the news and I certainly could live without checking my bank balance.

Then day 3 arrived… I could still live without social media, but I’d finished the books on my Kindle and we’d realised that some of the Apps on the iPad needed an internet connection to work, so by 10am on day 3 we had convinced ourselves that 19 euros wasn’t that much to pay for WiFi for a week. Madness I know, paying more for a week’s access than you would pay for a month’s access at home.

After a few attempts on my iPhone, I gave in and fired up my Mac and logged on to the network and was given the option of purchasing through Paypal or paying for a code from reception and entering the details to gain access. I opted to pay online. It meant that I could do it from my balcony and didn’t have to walk to reception at the other side of the hotel and knowing the provider would have to pay merchant fees to Paypal made me a little happier about parting with my money.

Great, I’m online… the emails from Tesco and Twitter amongst others start to flood my inbox and without too much thought I was already signed in to Facebook viewing the notifications I’d had over the past few days. I sign in to the WiFi on the iPad to update a few Apps and then while they were updating I focussed my attention back to Facebook on my Mac only to find that the WiFi has kicked me off…! Then I realised, the WiFi will only work with one MAC address at a time.

A quick search on Google and I’d uncovered how to share the internet connection from my Mac by plugging the nano-router into the Ethernet port. I’d managed to trick their network and created a gateway with one MAC address and managed to connect all of my devices simultaneously using my own little router. I even shared the connection with a few friends we made whilst staying there!

In 2013, charging 19 euros for a week’s WiFi access is a little steep, especially at an All Inclusive resort. Even more so when there are other ways that providers are able to fund the cost of their WiFi network, either though Social WiFi, WiFi Sponsorship or even advertising on splash pages. If the connection was somewhat restricted to stop users downloading large files or streaming music & videos, I’d prefer a restricted service for free than paying over the odds for a mediocre connection.

I’ll certainly be taking the router with me on my next holiday, just in case I encounter the same situation.

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