ince the 1950s, the United States and Canada have used the Forbes
Travel Guide (formerly Mobil) star ratings and the American Automobile
Association (AAA) and the Canada Automobile Association (CAA) diamond
ratings to indicate hotel class and quality. The reputable organizations base
their ratings upon actual visits by paid inspectors who assess the hotel's
compliance with a long list of criteria.
Today, with the Internet and social media as the major means of
travel research, the validity of hotel ratings has been blurred. The popularity
of online hotel travel sites like Kayak, TripAdvisor, and Expedia offer their own
user-submitted ratings (also based on a star system) that are written by
regular people, not professional industry inspectors. Now, an online
"5-star" hotel rating most likely refers to a customer's opinion,
rather than a grade issued to them by a reputable organization. Still—a few
standout qualities will assure a hotel is truly 5-star.
should drop when you walk into a 5-star hotel. The hotel's lobby will
display decorative furniture, expensive artwork, and fragrant
flowers. A 5-star hotel will also have
highly-rated spas with professionally-trained therapists, a state-of-the-art
gym, indoor and outdoor saltwater swimming pools, gourmet restaurants, and
inviting check-in facilities. Guest rooms elicit the same excellence, with
top-of-the-line beds and bedding (down pillows and linen sheets are common),
impeccable cleanliness, and an inviting lounge area with the latest technology
in both video and audio devices.
5-star hotel is aesthetically outstanding but more importantly, the service is essentially
the staff is extremely well spoken, polite, and clear. They are trained to
avoid slang and fragmented phrases and they carry themselves almost at
attention, without hands in their pockets or folded in front of their bodies.
Next, the staff will address you by your surname, whenever possible, and, from
check-in to departure, they are at your beck and call. Lastly, a
5-star experience always includes an escort to your room, unless you
Five-star amenities include a
choice of at least two complimentary newspapers, offered and distributed, a
welcome gift upon arrival, 24-hour room service, including hot food, and a
thoughtful presentation during turndown service. Additionally, at least two
types of premium quality snacks are automatically offered and distinctly
presented during bar and lounge service. All mixed drinks are presented with
modified or full club service. And work services undertaken by the staff are
handled with complete professionalism—with documents returned neatly in folders
or envelopes. Additionally, a 24-hour concierge service and valet
parking are a must.
Hotel managers, public relations professionals, and travel
industry writers all conclude that a 5-star hotel rating is not what it used to
be. In fact, this award can be arbitrarily designated, sometimes even by the
hotel itself. Add to that the complicated, almost synonymous, language
used to describe a hotel as "luxury" or "5-star,"
and the lines blur even further.
The truth is, both a 4-star and 5-star hotel can be considered
luxurious, however, they differ in regards to service. While a 5-star
hotel offers amenities like 24-hour butler service, room service, and an
in-room bar at no extra cost, a 4-star property will place a charge on top of
your room stay for such services.
A true 5-star
(awarded by Forbes) or 5-diamond (awarded by AAA or CAA) hotel will display
their rating like a badge of honor on their website's homepage. Both the star
and the diamond ratings are based on the hotel's physical facilities,
service, atmosphere, and price. However, even though a website boasts a 5-star
assignment, it doesn't mean it's from one of the respective organizations
listed above. So check to see where the rating comes from. If it's from Forbes
or AAA, it's worth the claim. But
if the rating is established from reader-submitted reviews, fixed and biased
submissions may be its basis.