Monday, April 12, 2010

When is a Star a Star?

On the road from Valle de Angeles, driving towards Tegucigalpa, there is a large billboard advertising the 'La Quinta Real' hotel in La Ceiba. The sign advertises the hotel as La Ceiba's only 'five star' hotel.

After La Quinta Real first opened, my family and I spent a few days there. We enjoyed it immensely, and it is true that the hotel is La Ceiba's finest 'big' hotel. It's on the beach, has a nice pool area, and has a full service restaurant... But five stars? Believe me when I say the La Quinta Real is not a Ritz Carlton or a Four Seasons hotel. It's nice, but it's not five stars (at least by international standards)...Maybe four stars?

This begs the question, who determines how many stars a hotel in Honduras is assigned? Is this done by the Ministry of Tourism (as in many Western European countries), or does the hotel itself decide how many stars it deserves? If Honduras is serious about tourism, shouldn't there be a well regulated system to determine how many stars a hotel deserves, and shouldn't all hotels be required to post the star ranking at a prominent place, visible to all, at the entry of the hotel?

Wouldn't this be an inducement for hotels to always strive to be better? Maybe then they would focus more on service, providing adequate training to their staff, refurbishing rooms when necessary, etc.

It should be noted that there are two small hotels in La Ceiba, namely 'The Lodge at Pico Bonito' and 'La Cascada', that while small, are truly luxury hotels.