Hotel Classification : The STAR Categories

Introduction : Historically, hotel classification systems were developed to ensure safe and reliable lodging and food for travellers at a time when very few such trustworthy establishments existed. With the unprecedented growth of international tourism in the past fifty years, during which hospitality has reach the status of a mature industry, the focus has moved from consumer protection (generally guaranteed by national regulations and legislation) to consumer information. Today, standardization and competitive marketing of hotel services to foreign customers and tourist professionals have emerged as driving forces for instituting a local or national hotel classification system.
Standards of hotel classification : Many countries allow various classification systems for hotels in accordance to chain name and type of hotel, however, there is no international classification which has been adopted. There have been attempts at unifying the classification system so that it becomes an internationally recognized and reliable standard but large differences exist in the quality of the accommodation and the size and design of the accommodation. Food services, entertainment, view, room variations such as size and additional amenities, spas and fitness centers and location are also vital in establishing a standard. As a rough guide:
A 1-Star hotel provides a limited range of amenities and services, but adheres to a high standard of facility-wide cleanliness.
A 2-Star hotel provides good accommodation and better equipped bedrooms, each with a telephone and attached private bathroom.
A 3-Star hotel has more spacious rooms and adds high-class decorations and furnishings and color TV. It also offers one or more bars or lounges.
A 4-Star hotel is much more comfortable and larger, and provides excellent cuisine (table d'hote and a la carte), room service, and other amenities.
A 5-Star hotel offers most luxurious premises, widest range of guest services, as well as swimming pool and sport and exercise facilities.
The Official Hotel Guide (published in the US, and followed world wide) has its own classification scheme that ranks hotels in nine categories as (1) Moderate Tourist Class, (2) Tourist Class, (3) Superior Tourist Class, (4) Moderate First Class, (5) Limited Service First Class, (6) First Class, (7) Moderate Deluxe, (8) Deluxe, and (9) Superior Deluxe
In INDIA : In May 2003, after much deliberation the Department of Tourism (DoT) renewed the 1955 initiated Guideline for the Classification of Hotels. This move was aimed at ensuring that hotels in India meet international standards in services and facilities. Although the five-star and four-star hotels in India have been able to meet international standards, some of them do not figure anywhere on the global map. On the other hand, hotels in the UK and the US that have been accredited as four-star and five-star are globally recognised.
With the dramatic development of domestic and international travel in the past fifty years, various public and private-sector interests periodically raise the question of how hotel ratings compare across the world. There is no real international hotel ratings system. Therefore, variations between countries' standards naturally exist. For example, in France the government conducts a star rating system ranging from one-star for simple accommodation to four-star for a deluxe hotel. Hotels in Germany and some Scandinavian countries have a one- to five-star rating, which the government reviews every three years, while in Britain the Automobile Association, Royal Automobile Club and English Tourist Board have agreed to a standardised hotel rating system. In South America, hotels are typically granted a star ranking from the government tourism ministry at the date of the hotel's opening, which may not be modified as the property ages.
The star classifications of the hotels are a function of the services provided by them. But, the present star category classification norms in India have been so haphazard that hotels claim to be six-star or seven-star, when the global norm classifies hotels as one star at the lower end and five-star deluxe at the luxury end. The reason for differences between the global and the Indian norms is in the standard of services being offered by the hotels in India. As seen in the past few years, most of the luxury chains have started renovating their property, as also upgrading existing services to match the new benchmarks (services offered by international entrants such as Radisson, Hyatt and Intercontinental). With the entry of the foreign hotels, these norms in India would have to be reset to reflect the new services offered by foreign chains, which follow a standard set of service offerings across its property. But at the same time the hotels need to upgrade their services with changing scenario.
One-Star Hotels: Hotels in this classification are likely to be small and independently owned, with a family atmosphere. Services may be provided by the owner and family on an informal basis. There may be a limited range of facilities and meals may be fairly simple. Lunch, for example, may not be served. Some bedrooms may not have an en suite bath/shower rooms. Maintenance, cleanliness and comfort should, however, always be of an acceptable standard.
Two-Star Hotels: In this classification hotels will typically be small to medium sized and offer more extensive facilities than at the one-star level. Some business hotels come into the two-star classification and guests can expect comfortable, well equipped, overnight accommodation, usually with an en-suite bath/shower room. Reception and other staff will aim for a more professional presentation that at the one-star level, and offer a wider range of straightforward services, including food and drink.
Three-Star Hotels: At this level, hotels are usually of a size to support higher staffing levels, and a significantly greater quality and range of facilities than at the lower star classifications. Reception and the other public rooms will be more spacious and the restaurant will normally also cater to non-residents. All bedrooms will have an en suite bath and shower rooms and offer a good standard of comfort and equipment, such as a hair dryer, direct dial telephone and toiletries in the bathroom. Besides room service, some provisions for business travellers can be expected.
Four-Star Hotels: Expectations at this level include a degree of luxury as well as quality in the furnishings, decor and equipment, in every area of the hotel. Bedrooms will also usually offer more space than at the lower star levels, and well designed, coordinated furnishings and decor. The en-suite bathrooms will have both bath and fixed shower. There will be a high enough ratio of staff to guests to provide services like porterage, 24-hour room service, laundry and dry-cleaning. The restaurant will demonstrate a serious approach to its cuisine.
Five-Star Hotels: Here you should find spacious and luxurious accommodation throughout the hotel, matching the best international standards. Interior design should impress with its quality and attention to detail, comfort and elegance. Furnishings should be immaculate. Services should be formal, well supervised and flawless in attention to guests' needs, without being intrusive. The restaurant will demonstrate a high level of technical skill, F&B production to the highest international standards. Staff will be knowledgeable, helpful, well versed in all aspects of customer care and combining efficiency with courtesy.