When Forbes Travel Guide’s expert inspectors visit a property, they anonymously test it based on hundreds of exacting standards, with an emphasis on exceptional service. Only the best of the best achieve the coveted Five Star, our highest rating. In anticipation of our 2024 Star Award winners announcement on February 7, we give you a peek into what it takes to earn a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award.
Authentic guest experience
Wowing a guest or elevating the guest experience is not a new concept in luxury — FTG has been measuring it for decades — but it sits at the forefront of travel-making decisions as guests’ expectations of what they want out of their trip evolve.
There is never a need to overthink the guest experience — often the most memorable moments can be simple and unplanned gestures. A staff of genuine individuals passionate about service will ensure natural and authentic experiences. Guests value their time more than ever before, and knowing their time was well spent and feeling organically cared for in a way that was not scripted or overplanned is the most important evolution. FTG has an evaluation touchpoint to measure this authenticity.
Sustainability and luxury
It’s not about how many sustainability measures a hotel adopts, but about the property doing what it can really well in a genuine manner and without disrupting or removing the sense of luxury. The ability for a guest to maintain sustainability commitments when traveling is a new evolving luxury and one to watch.
Equal to the guest experience, the choice to participate in sustainability efforts is not a “perhaps” but a non-negotiable for today’s guests. This factor helps them determine where to stay and dine. Travel professionals will turn to tools such as FTG’s new Responsible Tourism program, which awards a VERIFIED™ badge to hotels that meet expert criteria for protecting the environment and supporting the well-being of employees, guests and the community — creating a global standard for the world’s finest hotels and a trusted third-party verification for guests and travel advisors.
Evolution of well-being
The travel resurgence continues with guests’ expectations becoming even more hyper-focused on feeling well when they travel and even better when they leave. The need for more outdoor space, good light, fresh air and a high-quality sleep experience prevails in the decision-making process at all Star Rating levels.
Properties that provide authentic destination-centric itineraries that take advantage of their surroundings, offer something new to try and allow for cultural immersion for the guest combine for an elevated sense of luxury and overall mental well-being.
Curation of an experience
Whether a hotel offers a traditional luxury experience or a more contemporary one, the commonality across all luxury hotels is the guest demand for authenticity. Guests should have the ability to do something unique, perhaps community-driven, in the destination they choose to visit.
Whether that’s making your own perfume or cooking a lesser-known village delicacy with a local chef, FTG’s standards reward properties for delivering bespoke experiences that show they understand what guests want to achieve out of their travel. Hotels should expand experiences beyond just the bare necessities of the property and foster a deeper, long-term connection with the destination.