How to create an 'upscale' five star hotel

By Gregor Ritchie

- Last updated on GMT

Gregor Ritchie gives advice on where to start if you want to create the perfect luxury venue
Gregor Ritchie gives advice on where to start if you want to create the perfect luxury venue

Related tags: Hotel

Gregor Ritchie, principal at Optimum Hotel & Leisure Management, co-founder and head of consultancy at Exclusive Hotel Management and member of Hospitality Experts, gives his advice on undertaking strategic planning of businesses and upgrading properties to five star ratings.

Think about what upscale means to you

Defining what constitutes as an upscale venue is made tricky because the word itself has so many connotations. Upscale to one hotelier or customer may mean an AA Rosette restaurant or five star spa; someone else will value opulent rooms, while service will hold the key for others. 

It is essential to understand how each hotelier defines being ‘upscale’ and whether this is in line with their target clientele before beginning work with someone to upgrade their offering, or when starting from scratch. 

The type of luxury a hotel can offer will always depend on the internal and external fabric of the building. In both cases appropriate budgets have to be allocated, and this must be a particular consideration when dealing with a historic building. In this instance where a provision of four per cent of the budget for continuous replacement previously sufficed, this may increase to six or eight per cent of the crucial spend. 

Create a plan to improve your facilities

Once the DNA of the building is established, the next step is to create a business plan to sustain upscale facilities, such as a pool or spa. Many customers would regard certain facilities, perhaps a pool, as an essential part of being a luxury venue. However, that is entirely dependent on the location of the venue and it’s purpose. Not all venues need to offer everything, as people travel and stay in different parts of the country for different reasons. Facilities, while contributing to the luxury status of hotels, do not define it. 

Provide consistently good service

Unlike the facilities offered, providing professional and consistently unfailing service is an absolutely essential part of being classed by guests as a luxury venue. The team running an upscale venue need to know how to deliver premium service consistently.

To achieve the highest standards of service, staff are required to have an innate awareness of the customer’s needs, and the delivery of this service should be effortless. It was once said of Claridge’s, ‘if I’d asked for a bath in reception I felt they could and would have delivered this for me’. 

A great example of luxury service can be found in the Far East. In a five star hotel in Asia there will be staff in abundance, ready to cater to the requirements of their customers, who will note when the service does not meet with their past five star experiences. When putting together a budget, staff costs are a serious consideration due to high labour costs in the UK.    

Focus on the food  ​         

The food offering is a core ingredient in order to be a successful luxury venue, but one that must be cohesive with the offering and viable for the business. While sustaining a Michelin star restaurant is perfectly possible for some hotels, for others it would be entirely impractical. As long as the quality is there, the scale of the enterprise isn’t important. 

Ultimately achieving luxury status involves a venue combining these elements, resulting in a hotel that is not a ‘home from home’, but somewhere people feel comfortable and relaxed in total opulence. 

There are a lot of plates to spin both during the move to upscale and while maintaining a high-end offering. Having begun my career as a linen porter, I know the importance of every element, from the sheets to the service – and it’s all got to be crisp and clean to achieve a truly upscale and luxurious venue. 

Hospitality Experts are a consortium of established industry leaders, each with distinct specialisms, offering consultancy to businesses in the hospitality sector. United by a passion for the hospitality sector, industry experts share their experience and insight in order to help hospitality businesses increase profitability, improve brand loyalty, and outperform their peers. 

The panel of experts are recognised leaders in their fields of expertise, and have been mutually selected to join Hospitality Experts. They have been chosen on merit, and are neither paid to contribute, nor have paid to participate.

Related topics: Business, Hotels, Ask the Experts, Venues

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