Star signs – ★

April 16th, 2016 Sections: Silk Road Lodge, Tourism
In many ways ... a typical hotel

In many ways … a typical hotel

People look for different things in a hotel …

  • Location;
  • Luxury;
  • Facilities;

and, of course,

  • Price.

There’s no getting away from it, Price is important … no one likes, for example, to feel that they have been overcharged … and that they have received value for money.

Whilst the hotelier may well want to maximize their income, the customer naturally wants to obtain a ‘good price’, commensurate with the service they receive.  It’s a balancing act providing the facilities and levels of service, at a price that will be sufficient to cover the costs involved in providing it plus funding for future development (… and, of course, providing a profit).

However, although it may be a factor in deciding which hotels to consider – and the deciding factor between two competing hotels which seem comparable, similar in most respects – it’s not always the most important factor.

To the estate agent,(realtor), location is the crucial issue – hence the mantra: “location, location, location” … and that’s also true for many travellers.

Some, for example, want a City Center hotel – near to all the sights; the business, entertainment, exhibition and shopping centers; restaurants; government offices; museums and theaters … and so on.

I remember two particular occasions when I booked what was supposed to be city center accommodation but turned out to be in the suburbs – necessitating a long trip across town to get to the venues I was supposed to be visiting … in one case, two hours  – each way … making for a very long and tiring day.  I was not amused.

Others look for somewhere a little more off the beaten track, perhaps, (especially here in Kyrgyzstan), within easy reach of the  mountains, with opportunities for activities like walking or skiing.

For those who take a seaside, (or, in Kyrgyzstan, lakeside), then proximity to the beach, (and a seaview – or lake view), would be an attraction.

It sounds like an ‘urban myth’, but I loved the travel agent anecdote about the client who complained that he had not been given a room with a seaview … “But you were staying in Orlando, in Florida, … it’s miles from the coast,’ the agent retorted.  “Don’t give me that,” said the tourist, “Florida’s very thin and you should be able to see the sea in both directions!” …

I suppose that he could have added that Florida is also very flat, the highest point on the Florida Peninsula, (Sugarloaf Mountain), is only something like 312 feet  above sea level – about 95 meters – so there shouldn’t have been anything to obstruct his view.

Sugarloaf Mountain !?!?!? … even Sugarloaf Hill, (which lies between the Worcestershire Beacon and North Hill in the Malvern Hills which run North to South for about 13 kilometres along the border between Herefordshire and Worcestershire), rises to 1027 above sea level

There’s not much a hotelier can do about location, once they have chosen where to open a hotel.  So it’s important to choose wisely.  City Center, Beach Front, Airport Hotel or Mountain Resort … that will obviously have implications about the style of hotel, their marketing, the clientele they attract and the facilities they will include.


On the other hand, there are those who want to be pampered, and they look for the best of everything … Luxury! They demand Five star hotels (★★★★★) and nothing less … well, maybe four star if they condescend to ‘slum it’ a little.

When I say ‘Five star’, that’s because this is the generally accepted ‘gold standard’ equating with ‘luxury’, offering a variety of ‘frills’, facilities, services, decor and comfort over and above the needs of most travellers … and they often have rates, fees and charges that match.

Quite often, especially in the case of international hotel chains, the name of the hotel implies a level of luxuriousness – if it is not actually used as a synonym for  carries the implication

In some parts of the world there are hotels that claim, (or have claimed for them), six (★★★★★★) or seven (★★★★★★★) stars … but that is a bit of a joke because no star rating system gives more than five stars – at least I am not aware of one … if someone does, then perhaps they can give me the details.  As I understand it, the claim that a hotel is six or seven star is simply a way of emphasizing the superlative, extravagant, lavish, sumptuous luxury deluxe

The details may vary from country to country, (most countries operate their own classification system, although they may be related and many similarities exist between them), Four star hotels (★★★★) will not have all the facilities of their five star cousins.  They tend to be well equipped with levels of comfort and provide good quality service which is sufficient to meet the demands of most travellers … but lack the level of luxury.  Mind you, the price is also, usually, less than that of a five star hotel.

A Three Star hotel (★★★) is basic, but ‘adequate’ – but the rooms will probably have en-suite facilities, there will probably be a restaurant and twenty four reception, whereas Two star hotels (★★) are basic with ‘no frills’.  One star hotels ()  are very rare indeed … rarer than five star hotels  providing what is considered to be the bare minimum of standards required for a hotel.

Some hotels have no star rating … and they can be a bit of a ‘mixed bag’ … some are good, but others less so.  In some countries, the system of classification is obligatory, a compulsory requirement … but in others it is not.  A hotel proprietor may decide that there are good reasons to apply for a star rating – giving a level of status, providing potential guests an indication of what to expect if they book a room in the hotel.  They might also think that it will give them some advantage over their competitors.

There can be a variety of reasons, however, why a hotel does not seek a rating.  They may feel, for example, that they don’t need the imprimatur of an external body, that their reputation rests on them, themselves, and the service that they provide.  It could be that there are concerns about the system, the criteria, personnel involved – for example raising questions of potential conflict of interest, the cost involved – and not just in terms of finance … but also that involved in trying to meet the criteria.  Indeed, one of the criticisms often levelled at such systems is that they are abused by unscrupulous hoteliers who misuse the system … manipulating the data in order to get all the boxes ticked so that they can improve their rating.

Personally, I think that the biggest problem of such systems is that they are easily misunderstood.  The classification system is often, of necessity complex covering a wide variety of factors.  Some of those factors may be crucial … the provision, for example, of clean sheets … whilst others less so … such as the presence of a minibar in the room.

One of the features of such systems is that they are typically a ‘one size fits all’ system … but hotels come in different sizes and styles, ages and architecture.  A small hotel may offer luxurious surroundings and decor … but due to its size will lack some of the facilities.

What works in one country is not necessarily appropriate or relevant in another.  The presence of a television might be customary in a hotel located in a small village in the Welsh mountains, but pointless in one in the Kyrgyz mountains.

In fact, it seems to me, the influence of rating systems is beginning to wane … especially with the rise of social media and on line booking agents and review sites.  The rating system may give an overall impression … but there is evidence to suggest that travellers give as much weight – if not more – to reviews giving personal opinions and highlighting specific examples of what to expect.

The Star rating might well provide a ‘headline’ but traveller’s reviews provide the summary and the detail of the impression.





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