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What makes for a number 1 hotel?

What is the magical ingredient that has people raving about the hotel they just stayed in? After all it’s basically room and board yet some hotels ignite the passion to tell the story.

What is the magical ingredient that has people raving about the hotel they just stayed in? After all it’s basically room and board yet some hotels ignite the passion to tell the story.

I spend about 10 weeks away from home per year staying in six or seven different properties.

The recent trip I had was very enlightening; two weeks, business and pleasure and at four different properties.

I carried out inspections at 15 hotels including the number one property in Siem Reap, “Shinta Mani”.

Whilst there I stayed at my mum’s hotel,, currently number eight on the Trip Advisor ratings. In between I had overnighters in Bangkok (great) and Manila (horrific).

Finally, I stayed with my wife and daughter at Shangri La on Boracay Island, currently the number one on Trip Advisor. With all that combined I’ve compiled what hotels have to do well to hold a high-ranking.


They get the basics right

JW Marriott in Pune

The room is quiet, the bed is soft and it’s your own domain when you are a stranger in a strange land.

Whilst often expensive, the food is fresh and caters to the different ethnic groups who regularly stay. The Shangri-La, The Hilton in Sydney and the JW Marriott in Pune nail it.


Room to move and enjoy

kids club

The kids club needs to be good.


The kids go there to have fun, get a break from their parents meet kids from other places.

The parents can get a whole two hours by themselves in the bedroom or the pool or in the spa getting a massage after exercising.

Generally speaking these experiences will put smiles on people’s faces. Shangri-La did this exceptionally well. The Outrigger on the Coral Coast in Fiji really nails the interaction with the kids.


How about business?

Hilton Hotel

Business people want speed, convenience, politeness, efficiency and a little bit of luxury at the end of each day.

The JW Marriot in Pune and the Hilton in Sydney both do this equally well.

Approach the desk and everything is ready to go.

Neither property has ever given roomsXML a missing booking issue or has held on to the holding deposit for extended periods of time.


What if something goes wrong?

Dubai hotel feature

They own and resolve the problem.

Bad meal? The head chef comes to see you.

Bedroom uncomfortable? The head of housekeeping comes to see you.

After they implement a resolution they checked to see you are happy. I stayed at a hotel in London a few years ago that got everything wrong off the back of poor maintenance through the GFC. Never again.


They understand the end-to-end experience

hotel visit 2

This is something mum has worked on with her hotel, ensuring that the hotel experience begins from the moment that booking is queried through to when people get home and don’t find any surprises on their credit card. It can be helping with transfers, planning tours or getting into the right restaurant.

It extends the window of positive conversation about the trip with their friends.


They have the story

hotel staff

Noelene Henderson from Enticing Asia landed me over an hour with Christian De Boer from Shinta Mani.

One of my favourite hotel inspections of all time. In the off-season when the average occupancy in hotels is about 30 percent, the rooms and restaurants are just about full just about every night, for good reason.

This hotel is really something – stunning rooms, amazing entryway, beautiful restaurants. There’s a lot of “WOW” about it. It just has everything. But that doesn’t guarantee success. Christian is very open in sharing that he believes the triple bottom line philosophy which is threaded through every fibre of the property is the ingredient. They have poured millions back into local causes and invested in their staff and people. It shows in everything they do.

They back up the story with substance. We tell the story to our friends.

Word-of-mouth drives business. More business delivered well means higher rankings.

What do you think makes up a great hotel?