Let’s be clear. I am aware of the fact that there are ‘six’ and ‘seven’ star hotels in the world.
What you may, or may not be aware of is the fact that there is no universal international standard of grading hotels.
Most countries work on a grading up to a maximum of five stars, others have a diamond rating and others work on other types of grading.
What is universal though is that there is a limit to the scale; meaning that in essence there is no way to quantify more than a five star level.
The most famous is the Burj Al Arab in the emirate of Dubai. It claims to be the worlds first seven star hotel.
Pretty isn’t it? The architect and engineering consultant for the project was Atkins, the UK’s largest multidisciplinary consultancy. The hotel was built by South African construction contractor Murray & Roberts. The hotel cost $650 million to build and opened it’s doors on the 1st December 1999. It billed itself as the world’s first seven star hotel despite there being no precedent for such a claim. HotelClub Travel Blog details more such examples of presumption.
A coincidence that each of these examples is in the Emirates or Asia listing countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Malaysia and Dubai? All are the result of ground breaking designs and world beating luxury I’m sure but when you try and ‘out do’ your competition by creating your own star or grading rating it seems like they are trying too hard.
The Burj Al Arab has attracted criticism as well as praise, these are some of the criticisms; “both the hotel and the city, after all, are monuments to the triumph of money over practicality. Both elevate style over substance.” Sam Wollaston writing in “The Guardian” described the hotel as “…fabulous, hideous, and the very pinnacle of tackiness – like Vegas after a serious, no-expense-spared, sheik-over”.
Yes, that was pretty much my impression also. More money than class or taste is a very common occurrence in the world of super luxury hotels.
My motivation for writing this article is more about creating an awareness rather than simply listing an exhaustive list of all of the requirements for five star level grading. If you’re interested in such a list you’ll find one here.
I am more interested in sharing my views on what it takes to maintain those standards, how the staff need to be trained and directed and what sets some five star hotels apart from the thousands of others.
Anyway, coming back to my point about what makes a great five star hotel. There are standard requirements to qualify as a five star hotel. These are some of them:
The staff at a five-star hotel is expected to be the best they can. The hotel should have a high ratio of staff to guests.
Service in a five-star hotel is above average. The hotel should offer Reception, Concierge, Housekeeping and Room Service 24 hours a day.
For a hotel to be rated with five stars, it must have expensive and quality furnishing and decorations such as 400-count sheets. The rating also requires that in-room video, a CD/DVD player and a bath and shower in the bathroom.
The hotel itself should have more than one restaurant at the location and the restaurants are expected to offer a variety of gourmet dining options.
- Quality – Relates to furnishings, fittings, amenities, décor, food and beverage, staffing, vehicles and logistical system
- Service – I consider this to be the most important of the three. Without excellent, experienced and well trained staff you will never maintain five star standards. I have seen it at every stage of my career and there has never been a single statement with more truth. With the right staff in the correct roles you WILL achieve excellence. Unlike physical attributes great service costs nothing. Training a staff member costs nothing. Motivating a staff member costs nothing. Ensuring that your guests receive the very best attention and service costs nothing.
- Consistency – Obviously this means getting it right every single time. Every single napkin is folded the same way, each bed made and turned down the same way. Every meal prepared, plated and served in same way. Repetitiveness can be painful for the untrained and inexperienced staff member, but for those of us who have lived it for years and years it becomes second nature. Achieving great service consistency WILL make your hotel great; not maybe or could; this is guaranteed.
- Is it arrogant, unfriendly or badly trained staff?
- Less than impeccable room cleanliness or facilities?
- Bad service in the bar, restaurants or other public areas?
- Great location
- Beautiful building and façade
- Luxurious and extravagant décor, amenities and equipment
- A variety of restaurants that are trendy, but most importantly good value for money and resistant to changing trends
- An excellent, preferably Les Clefs d’Or, Concierge member or team
- Experienced, knowledgeable and regularly re-trained management and staff
It’s so simple, but you’ll be surprised how many five star hotels cannot get it right.
I am Concierge.