When Forbes Travel Guide’s expert inspectors visit a property, they anonymously test it against up to 900 rigorous standards. Only the best of the best achieve the coveted Five-Star, our highest rating. In anticipation of our 2021 Star Award winners announcement on February 16, we give you a peek into what it takes to earn a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award.
There’s nothing like a great hotel bed. So, what makes a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star bed? The mattress must be of exceptional quality, the linens have to be soft and comfortable, the pillows full, plump and thoughtfully placed on the bed. There also should be decorative elements that make the presentation interesting. Is there a unique pattern on the duvet? Are there throw blankets, bolsters or decorative pillows that add a sense of place?
At a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star bar or lounge, you should not only be able to order a cocktail, but also learn how the property wants you to experience its libation. Could a simple gin and tonic come with modified club service, ice cubes with juniper berries frozen inside, housemade tonic water or tonic water that has been specially picked for the type of gin you’ve ordered because it’s the perfect balance of quinine to the botanicals in the spirit?
A staff member of a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel not only has to be extremely professional, but also demonstrate intuitive, thoughtful and anticipatory service. Does the staff seem to magically know what you want, even before you ask it? Is the bellman aware you’re there for a work trip, and offer pressing and shoe shine service so you look sharp before a meeting? Does the concierge not only provide dinner reservations and driving directions, but call ahead to ensure you get the restaurant’s best table?
It’s not enough for the food at a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant to be perfectly balanced in flavor and painstakingly plated. Along with numerous aspects of execution, it also has to be memorable. We ask our inspectors to think about their meal a few days after they’ve dined — can they easily recall a dish because it stands out as unique, remarkable and something that they’d have to go to that specific restaurant to get?
Thoughtful guest room amenities
A Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel goes beyond the typical guest room amenities, like an iron and ironing board, an umbrella and a shoe brush. They also carry specific items you likely will need in that particular destination. For example, a property in a tropical locale may provide flip-flops, aloe and mosquito repellent. And a city hotel may stock its rooms with jogging maps, yoga mats and shopping bags.
It’s expected that your room at a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel would be beautifully designed and appointed, as well as exceptionally clean. But housekeeping isn’t about simply cleaning — it’s about restoring the space to its original condition with the guest’s belongings in it. But how are those items handled? Did the housekeeper see your sunglasses and provide a hotel-logoed microfiber cloth? Did she notice you’re a fan of gummy bears and leave a gratis bag? Are cell phone and laptop chargers nicely coiled, and perhaps secured with a ribbon?
The staff at a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel is all caring, gracious and thoughtful, and that stems from a genuine interest in you as a guest. Showing concern isn’t just asking questions; it’s also proving you listened to the answer. Upon departure, does the staff inquire about your stay and then say it was great having you as a guest? Does the front desk thank you and show appreciation during departure, but also seem a little sad that you’re leaving? Does the valet driver extend the seat belt on your rental car, making it easier to buckle in?
At a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel, it’s all about going above and beyond a guest’s expectations. Great lengths are taken to record your preferences to create a seamless experience. Have the housekeepers noted you like your accommodations at 68 degrees, and every time you check in your room has been set to that temperature? Did they remember your nut allergy and proactively remove those items from the mini-bar? Do they know your favorite football team and remind you what time and channel the game will be playing?
Visit ForbesTravelGuide.com on February 16 to see the list of 2021 Forbes Travel Guide Star Award recipients.