Details of the new rating system by which all hotels and B&Bs across the UK will be judged are announced today exclusively in Caterer.
It is the first time that a single method of assessing and rating serviced accommodation has been agreed by all the UK's main accreditation bodies, including the national tourist boards of England, Scotland and Wales, the AA and the RAC.
The scheme was first announced in July but details of the standards are being released to the industry for the first time this week.
The new system divides accommodation into multiple categories including hotels, guesthouses, budget and travel accommodation. These are then separated into further categories including townhouse hotel and restaurant with rooms.
The new criteria have already proved to be contentious, however, particularly the rule that properties calling themselves hotels must be assessed as such.
Hotels not deemed to fit the new hotel criteria will be obliged to drop the title and be assessed under guest accommodation standards. Those who reject re-assessment will be excluded from all marketing activities provided by the tourist boards and guidebooks.
The British Hospitality Association is awaiting feedback from its members but deputy chief executive Martin Couchman said initial reaction had been positive.
"I think Alan Britten has done a very good job in putting it all together," Couchman said. "I can see no sore thumbs sticking out - apart from the hotel name issue." The topic will be discussed by BHA local associations and VisitBritain next month.
Albert Hampson, head of hotel services at the AA, agreed that the hotel name ruling would present problems for about 10% of rated properties, primarily in the guest accommodation sector. It will affect 800 of the AA's 8,000 listed establishments.
Transitional arrangements will allow affected hotels and guesthouses to continue using stationery and web URLs with the hotel monicker until 2008 (as long as the text makes their status clear). Signage can remain until it needs replacing.
VisitBritain managing director Stephen Farrant said each situation would be judged on a case-by case basis.
Inspections under the new system start from January 2006 and the new ratings will be phased in by January 2008.
Operators will still be obliged to pay for their assessment, although prices and the service offered will vary depending on the accreditation body.
\* For further details, contact Quality in Tourism on 0845 300 6996 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org
Hotel, country house hotel, small hotel, townhouse hotel, metro hotel
Guest accommodation B&B, guesthouse, farmhouse, inn, restaurant with rooms, guest accommodation
Common Standards for Accommodation
Entry-level requirements at each rating level are detailed below. Each level builds on the criteria which proceeds it.
Hotels: Formal accommodation with full service
- Open seven days a week in operating season.
- Six or more bedrooms with en suite or private facilities; reception; bar; dining area serving cooked breakfast seven days a week and evening meals five or more days a week.
- Guest access at all times, staff available 24 hours a day.
- Evening meals served seven days a week.
- Room service offering drinks, snacks and one meal (breakfast or dinner) in the day and evening; en suite bathrooms in all bedrooms
- Enhanced services such as 24-hour room service, luggage assistance, or lunchtime meals
- At least one restaurant open to residents for breakfast and dinner seven days a week
- Open seven days a week all year
- Some luxury suites; baths in all en suite bathrooms
- Additional facilities such as secondary dining, business centre or spa
- Enhanced services such as valet parking and a concierge
Informal accommodation with limited service
Substantial breakfast; staff present at arrival, departure and meal times; meals served in eating area or bedrooms
Three Star and above
Access to both sides of all beds for double occupancy; bathrooms/shower rooms not shared with proprietor; washbasins in all guest bedrooms
50% of bedrooms en suite or with private facilities
100% of bedrooms en suite or with private facilities
Uniform accommodation with limited service, such as roadside and budget hotels
By Angela Frewin
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