Main Photo: The stylish Steigenberger Wiltcher Hotel in Brussels
Date: February 2020
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Name: The New Hotel Star System
What Happened: Brussels hotels have been lining up since mid-January to take part in a new classification system, the first since the old system was scrapped more than eight years ago.
In 2011, with the sixth set of state reforms, responsibility for tourism passed from the language communities to the regions. Since then, Brussels region has not had a system of its own to classify hotels according to comfort and amenities. The result has been a free-for-all, with the most unscrupulous hotels claiming a star rating that has no basis in law.
Now, the region has approved a proposal from minister-president Rudi Vervoort to bring in a new system.
The new system was developed in cooperation with other European countries, as well as hotel guests, and is an application of the widely-used star system.
“The stars of the hotels of Brussels will shine again,” said Vervoort. “That’s good news for tourists, who will know immediately the level of service they can expect, but also for hotel managers, who will now be better able to position themselves on the market.”
The hotels too appear satisfied, according to Rodolphe Van Weyenbergh, secretary-general of the Brussels Hotels Association.
“The star classification remains an important instrument for hotels to be able to position and distinguish themselves from each other. It is also a way to highlight the quality and diversity of the services offered within the sector. An online audit tool will offer the possibility to test the future classification, with its various categories going all the way up five-stars-superior.”
Applications for a classification are now being taken from hotels by the Brussels region’s economy and employment ministry, which will carry out checks and attribute a classification based on a procedure which will involve the hotel management. That ministry will also be responsible in future for ensuring the services on offer remain up to the standard required for the classification granted.
So Who Started All This: In the UK we can thank the AA (Automobile Association), who have been recognising accommodation since 1908 and first introduced the star rating scheme in 1912, recognising and rewarding establishments for the quality and range of their services and facilities. In 2006, The AA developed Common Quality Standards (alongside the main tourist boards) for inspecting and rating accommodation. These standards and rating categories are now applied throughout the British Isles.
Hotel star ratings are only awarded and managed by four national and accredited bodies: The AA (specifically AA Hotel Services which is a division of the Automobile Association), Visit England, Visit Scotland and Visit Wales.
And we can thank a small hotel in Cornwall, England – The Nare, who telling us chapter and verse on how it works!
THPT Comment: So Brexit isn’t the only thing Brussels got in January….but if one has a star system in the city, shouldn’t it be nationwide? The old one to five star system isn’t perfect, but it does give the whole world a reasonable idea of what 1 million hotels around the world might look and be like, when travelling a long-distance….
First Seen: The Brussels Times
The Hotel Property Team (THPT) is a small group of highly experienced business professionals. Between us, we provide a range of skills and experience which is directly relevant to those involved in the hotel property market.