As We See It

Five-Star standard: What it takes for hotels to impress ‘Forbes’

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The Forbes Travel Guide inspectors look at more than 550 specific service standards when evaluating properties vying for the Five-Star distinction.

You’re lounging on a chaise, savoring the fresh orange slices given to you by the ever-so-attentive pool boy. Ninety minutes pass, and suddenly you’re being misted with Evian’s mineral-water spray. Another hour and a half passes, and chilled towels arrive.

Save for being fanned with palm fronds and fed grapes off the vine, you’re basically receiving the Cleopatra treatment. But this caliber of service isn’t solely for ancient royals or contemporary well-to-dos with mansion staffs to savor; it’s standard at hotels boasting the coveted Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star distinction.

On February 11 Forbes released its 57th list of Star Award winners, which included 115 Five-Star and 336 Four-Star hotels across the globe—and a handful of those are in Las Vegas, with five and 12 properties receiving Five- and Four-Star ratings, respectively (from Five-Stars like Mandarin Oriental and Wynn’s Tower Suites to Four-Stars like the Cosmopolitan and the Four Seasons). A number of spas and restaurants also made the cut, from Guy Savoy (Five-Star) to Spa Mio at the M Resort (Four-Star).

As a former pool boy charged with spraying down hotel guests with premium H20, I know that the Forbes (then Mobil) Travel Guide is about a lot more than commonplace benchmarks like a clean lobby, friendly faces at the front desk and turndown service. Properties prepare for the incognito evaluations all year, and Forbes’ Amanda Frasier says the hotel-rating entity looks at more than 550 specific service standards when deciding on a hotel’s rating (which can rise to near 1,000, if the property’s spa and restaurants are also being rated).

When we say specific, we mean specific. At Five-Star properties, guests must be greeted curbside within 60 seconds of pulling up. A fresh flower or live plant must be present in the guest room. Looking for a restaurant recommendation? The concierge better be ready—and knowledgeable—with three options for the guest to consider (though Frasier concedes that criteria do change in smaller towns with fewer dining selections).

Next time you’re planning a vacay, consider foregoing the user-submitted reviews on Expedia. With its secret shoppers scrutinizing properties around the world, Forbes might be your most reliable source.

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