What makes a hotel five-star? A little research reveals that there are many different standards across the world. Some are maintained by authorities while some by hoteliers’ associations.
In Bangladesh, how many stars a hotel gets is stipulated in the law titled Hotel and Restaurant Rules, last amended in 2016.
The rules specify that, to get a five-star rating, a hotel must meet high standards in 34 different criteria. The Hotel and Restaurant Cell under the Tourism Ministry is responsible for issuing and monitoring the ratings.
According to the Tourism Ministry, there are 13 five-star hotels in the country, four four-star hotels and 17 three-star hotels.
There are, however, allegations that many local hotels do not meet the standards but have obtained star ratings nevertheless to increase revenue. Some older hotels, on the other hand, need renovation to keep up.
Industry insiders also said the Hotel Cell has very little manpower and has no experts who can assess the hotels in these criteria.
Seeking anonymity, an official from a five-star hotel run by an international chain told the Dhaka Tribune that, if judged properly, only two or three hotels would fulfil the criteria of a five-star hotel.
“The rest of the hotels are just three-star level,” the official said.
Even the country’s oldest five star hotel (now InterContinental) is renovating its structure as it was lacking in many criteria. The hotel building and other facilities were not up to the mark, which is why many international hotel chains had declined to operate the hotel.
Most hotel owners use ratings to raise the hotel’s standing, so that they can charge more on services including food items, said an official of a five-star hotel.
To address the problem, industry insiders urged to form an organisation that can monitor the hotel business and its services in the country.
Kazi Wahidul Alam, a tourism expert, said it was unfortunate that standards in hotel business and services in the country have not been brought to a level.
“As the government has no organisation to monitor the hospitality business, there is no control on star hotels’ pricing. We will have to fix a criteria following international standards and need a real assessment of ratings,” said Wahidul.
Parvez Ahmed Chowdhury, principal of the National Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (NHTTI), said: “There are no experts in the Hotel and Restaurant Cell. It needs professionals to rate any hotel.
“Hotel room occupancy is low but room rates are high in Bangladesh. Food prices are reasonable but it is not tourist friendly.”
Regular rooms at five-star hotels can be $150 up to $300-400, depending on demand.
Shahadat Hussein, additional secretary of the Hotel and Restaurant Cell, told the Dhaka Tribune that only those that fulfil the government’s criteria get star hotel ratings.
“As a government representative, we strictly follow the rules and regulations on hotels and restaurants when issuing a licence to a particular hotel,” he said.
The 34 criteria for a five-star hotel include at least 100 hotel rooms, swimming pool, gym, 100 to 200 car parking, currency exchange, WiFi and wired internet connection, rent-a-car services, on-call doctor and first aid, 24-hour security, multiple banquet and conference halls, and restaurants.
Shahidus Sadique, director (marketing and sales) at Intercontinental Hotel, said renowned international hotel chains like Marriot, Hilton, and Intercontinental Hotels Group maintain the same standards all over the world.
“On the other hand, Bangladesh does not have such hotel chains. As a result, we cannot find quality hotel services in the country,” he said.
A senior official at a five-star hotel said the international chain that runs the hotel often sends auditors, posing as guests, to the hotel to check on the quality of service.
He suggested that proper monitoring is required for local hotels to meet standards.