Travel Tip


This months travel tip is a discussion of something we have covered before. It is determining how the actual rating of a resort is developed. I want to re-discuss this because I am seeing an alarming number of 1 and 2 star resorts being rated at 4 & 5 star resorts. This can have a huge impact on the type and quality of your vacation and resort choices.

In the U.S. we have standard rating systems like AAA 1-5 ratings. These ratings are determined by AAA through a book or books of requirements and goals that a particular hotel or resort has to follow in order to be rated. AAA then performs inspections to rate the resort based on how well a hotel or resort is following the book or books of requirements and qualifications. There are a separate set of qualifications for each rating level 1 – 5 and these are strictly adhered to.

Having said that, when you get outside of the U.S., for the most part, these ratings do not apply. Europe has it’s own rating system that is much more relaxed than in the U.S. When going to Mexico or the Caribbean there really are not any organized rating systems. Most of the ratings you see are given by the owners of the hotel or resort.

When you think about it, if you owned a resort and rated it 1 star, you probably would not generate a lot of interest for your resort so, why not give it a 5 star rating. You may ask, how can they do this? It is because there really is not any governing body that controls ratings of resorts or hotels in Mexico or the Caribbean. When you look at a rating online, the rating you see is the rating the resort told the online company to publish.

An example of this is there is a well known resort chain in Mexico and the Caribbean that has 3 different quality levels of resorts yet they rate all their resorts 5 stars. If there are 3 different levels of quality how can they all be 5 stars.

The message is be very careful with resort ratings you may see during your research. The largest complaints I see for resorts are on the review websites where a review will say, “this resort was OK but it certainly was not a 5 star resort as they advertised”.

A good knowledgeable travel agent, such as ourselves, will base the rating of a resort on them visiting the resort and the feedback they receive from the clients they send to a particular resort, not on what the published rating is

There certainly is a market for all resorts 1 star – 5 star but you need to make sure whichever one you select meets your criteria for your vacation.

Some of the major differences between 1 star and 5 star are, the service level and the amenities provided. At a true 1,2,3, star resort you will get alcoholic drinks but only at a true 4 or 5 star resort will they be top shelve alcohol, only at a true 4 or 5 star resort will you get 24 hour room service, Only at a true 4 or 5 star resort will you get unlimited dining at all their restaurants. So, it is not necessarily the facilities as much as it is the service and amenities you receive.

The way to be sure is to speak with an experienced knowledgeable travel agent who has visited the resorts and has first hand experience and can get you the vacation you are looking for at the best price available. Most knowledgeable travel agents do not charge a fee and can provide a payment plan.

Make sure you get the Vacation, Honeymoon, or Destination Wedding you want rather than wondering if you got what you want.