One of the world’s most prestigious travel awards has named two Australian hotels among the best in the world.
As part of the annual Star Awards, Forbes Travel Guide said that while London is the leader of the pack for five-star properties, Crown Towers in Melbourne and its affiliate in Perth also received the prestigious nod of recognition. In Sydney, The Darling walked away with the five-star award as well.
In its 63rd year, the Forbes Travel Guide is a complex rating system against up to 900 rigorous standards.
The awards are the only global rating system for luxury hotels, restaurants and spas, and enlist inspectors who objectively and independently gather information from a hotel stay to help determine the Star Award which is awarded to a property each year.
Only the best of the best achieve the coveted Five-Star award, with all crucial elements such a beds, drinks, service, meals, amenities, housekeeping and the ability to exceed expectations all taken into account.
Speaking to news.com.au, Amanda Frasier, Forbes executive vice president of standards and ratings, said the process to determine the five-star winners “begins by selecting qualified hotels within destinations we cover to receive an incognito inspection”.
“That evaluation is conducted over two nights and three days by a trained FTG inspector with expertise in the luxury hospitality space,” Ms Frasier said.
“Forbes Travel Guide pays for all its own inspections. The evaluator objectively assesses more than 500 hotel standards, and the final report provides detailed observations on the experience from a guest point of view.”
Ms Frasier said there is a special algorithm used to “determine the rating”. The primary focus in on service, while 25 per cent of the final award is facility-based.
“Service standards can cover anything from more simple gestures, such as smiling and eye contact, to a closer assessment of the staff’s ability to be intuitive and natural when engaging with a guest,” she said.
“We strongly believe luxury service is most elegant when it is not forced or robotic, and our standards are composed in such a way to provide credit for these positive encounters.”
Ms Frasier said that both Crown Towers Melbourne and Crown Towers Perth stood out to the inspectors within the Australian market.
“These are top hotels in their destinations and not only boast stellar locations and facilities, but some of the best service, too,” she said.
“While both hotels performed consistently across several assessed areas – a trait of a typical Five-Star winner – the Perth location stood out with a top-class housekeeping team and sterling bar service, while the Melbourne property particularly excelled in its food service program.”
Ms Frasier said that beds to reach the five-star rating within a hotel, for example, must have a mattress of exceptional quality, the linens have to be soft and comfortable, the pillows full, and there also must decorative elements that make the presentation interesting such as scatter cushions or an inviting throw.
For service, perhaps a deal breaker for any luxury stay, means a staff member not only has to “be extremely professional, but also demonstrate intuitive, thoughtful and anticipatory service”. This may include staff magically knowing what you want, even before you ask or offering pressing and shoe shine service for business travellers.
Elsewhere around the world, nine hotels in Tokyo received the five-star rating, while 10 New York hotels received the crown.
Scotland received its first five-star win with The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel, in Edinburgh.
A new element of this year’s awards is for the ‘Hotel Instagram of the Year’, which was given to the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.
The hotel has 145,000 followers, and was given the award based on the resort for “curating a feed that radiates personality, engages with followers and has an overall stunning aesthetic”.