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Hotel classification in Mauritius

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Hotel classification in Mauritius

Part 1

It is not only in Mauritius, it happens around the world where people get confusion about the hotel rating systems. Over the years many articles have been written in regards to the confusion surrounding the various ratings of hotels and resorts. I especially remember one on The Sheraton at Fort Lauderdale Airport, in United States of America, that was rated as a four-star hotel according to Sidestep.com (now kayak.com). However, the persons, who booked the hotel through sidestep.com, was surprised to find that room service was shut tight when arriving at 11:30 p.m. thus, the persons could not order so much as a salad or a cold snack.

I believe that any person would be surprised that a four-star hotel property, next to a major airport, would not have 24-hour room service.

When the person checked further; the same hotel was only rated as a three-star property by Expedia and Travelocity as well as the AAA Florida Tour Book. So whom should a traveller trust?

Welcome to the world of hotel classification

Having received an education through Hotel and Restaurant schools in Denmark, the good old fashion way, combining theory and practical work at recognised hotels. Followed by a professional career of 11 years in the hospitality industry (national and international), 12 years the tourism and 8 years within business development and online marketing; I consider myself as classified to express my opinion on this subject..

As an apprentice I assumed that the one- to five-star rating applied in Scandinavia and Germany was part of a world wide standard. That changed when I finally got the courage to apply for a position as waiter, on one of the 5 star cruise liners at Cunard Line. Here I travel across the Atlantic, with a fear that I could not live up to the basic standard of five star international standards. I was expecting a hard time working amongst dedicated five star personal from around the world. Ha! That was my first wakeup call!

With a very modest evaluation of my own experience and knowledge obtained over five years, and let’s keep it within the restaurants field; I found that only a handful could compete with me in terms of knowledge, practical skills, dedication to the job and service minded attitude towards the guests. hen the question could be asked “is it your ego that over shadowed or was the cruise liner not living up to the 5 star standard”? I will let other be the judge of.

I can only state that within 48 hours I was moved from a normal station to a new station, which the cruise directors table under my responsibility.

With some additional travelling and staying a various hotels and resorts (3 to 5 star), I found that not all establishment flash their ranking and some with three stars can deliver customer service and gastronomic that outrank 4 and 5 start. Of Couse their accommodation is not all marble, brass and silver….. So you can say that this was another wakeup call.

Which ranking system and guide can the Traveller rely on?

I am confident that the question “Do the hotel live up to its standard of it ranking” could be asked many places around the world – and I have asked this question many times even in Mauritius! This does not mean that I do not see hotels and resorts living up to its ranking or I do not see 5 star materials. No, it means that I see a very broad interpretation, by the property owners or the administrators, of what a 1 up to 5 star hotel and resort properties is.

For the sake of the argument, let us move away from insinuating that its the hoteliers plastering themselves with stars and look at the other players that could be at fault such as magazines (travel issues especial), guides, tour operator, Online Travel Agencies and let us not forgetting the tourist industry trade fairs.

Majority of the world’s magazines features hotel articles or ranking of hotels. Are they independent? I think that even a child can answer that, knowing that the hotel or operator in one way or another is paying for the articles. Therefore, such articles, rewards or ranking can only be considered informative and a well crafted view of opinion by the magazine’s editor, whom payslip rely on the hoteliers advertisement money.

Hotel ClassificationTravel agencies or tour operators are generally contractually bound by promoting a property’s ranking as stipulated in their contact. I remember this one “the hotel is to be promoted as “One of the leading 4 star luxury hotel properties in Mauritius”.

Other evaluations from the private sector related to the travel industry but less depended, is the Ratings Guides. You might know them i.e. the English AA and RAC guides, from French the Michelin Red Guide or in the United States the American Automobile Association guide. However, none of these guides have ranking which is comparable. So the traveller can obtain information however, have to take time out to understand each of the Guides criteria.

Then I have friends that inform me “We used online travel guides” like tripadvisor.com. Great and they do not rely on hotel bookings? Yes, but the reviews are of independent travellers, you might say. Sorry the expression “My Foot”! If I was to list hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, webmasters that uses online travel guide’s platforms to promote their business posing as travellers or to discredit their competitors; it would be longer than this blog and grow each day.

But Google give them a Page Ranking 8 over 10. Yes, but that is based on the content not that the information is truthful!!

So, are there other organisations that the traveller can turn to? The hotel industry would refer to one of the brand organisation such as Leading Hotels of the World or Relais and Chateaux. These organisations recommend hotels, which they have selected to include in their guides, accordingly to their mandatory standards. Here again the problem of independencyarises, since application and annually membership fees applies to list the particular hotel in their guide and for bookings at the hotel via their reservation service.

OK, ok, I hear what you want to say “What about the government like in Mauritius”? That is a very good question which leads to the second part of my blog (Part 2)

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