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Is the Sandralia Hotel a 4-Star or 5-Star Hotel?

With magnificent interior, state of the art facilities, modern in-room amenities and imposing architecture, the Sandralia Hotel Abuja is truly a beauty. This 102 room hotel located at the heart of Abuja the capital city of Abuja will continue to wow its visitors. An areal view will convince any doubters that this hotel has come to take its space in the Nigerian hospitality sector. Highly contentious is the debate among industry experts and travellers on the Star rating of this hotel. Is the Sandralia Hotel a 4 or 5 Star Hotel?

Located on the serene environ of Jabi metropolis, the Sandralia is no doubt at all one of the most beautiful hotels in Abuja. This hotel is very intimidating and from an aerial view, one could easily notice that this piece of architecture is contributing its quota to the beautiful landscape of the city of Abuja.

With a very spacious environment of opulence and comfort, the Sandralia gives visitors a unique feeling of luxury and calm upon arrival. Equipped with a lovely Piano Lounge, a stylish bar, high powered conference centres, a beautiful outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court, a gym and a playground, one can see reasons why visitors are confused if the Sandralia is a (4 or 5)-Star hotel.

With additional services such as airport shuttle, laundry/dry cleaning, car hire, 24-hour room service, ironing, concierge desk and a 24 hours reception and room service available to the guests, this property is truly ready for its business and family customers from near and far. Those who rate the Sandralia Hotel 4-Star or 5-Star do so based on their own experience or levels of understanding of star ratings and how it works.

With no definite official star rating system or structure in Nigeria, there is no way of identifying a hotel star rating. Every rating available in the country is either brought in by international chain hotels or self-acclaimed by the individual hotels themselves. In the absence of any structured rating system, most hotels have resulted in self-rating. It is not uncommon to have investors or operators rate their hotels themselves; and most of the time, they often go for the higher rating available; its either a 4-Star or 5-Star. Another form of hotel rating in Nigeria is that given by the general public. The public will rate a hotel based on size and architectural beauty. The bigger and more stylishly built, the higher the stars the public slams on the hotel. They do not take into consideration, service quality levels or any other factor.

Since the regulators and organized private sectors have left the industry without any form of rating structure, it is quite normal for visitors to be locked in debates and confusion of the status of a hotel star rating in Nigeria. However, given the international standards for hotel ratings, a hotel in Nigeria get a proxy rating. Though not factual, these could help place a hotel within the star rating ladder. So where do we place the Sandralia Hotel? 4 or 5-star? To guide us, let us look at what Hotel Star rating really means.

Nigeria has no nationally approved standards for rating hotels, most hotels have often opted for the European or American Star Rating systems. These two regions use different hotel star rating structures and it becomes confusing to have both in use in a country. So, for hotels like the Sandralia to be rated using the European structure where four stars are the max or the American system that goes up as high as five stars are rather ambiguous.  

What exactly does Star Rating really mean?

When Hospitality360 Africa, spoke with the industry experts and the general public on their definition of a hotel star rating, the outcomes were educative and funny. However, let us stick to the general meaning for now. Hotel ratings are often used to classify hotels according to their quality and for informing travellers on basic facilities that can be expected in a hotel. The objectives of hotel rating have of lately expanded into a focus on the hotel experience as a whole. A hotel may have three different ratings, depending on the travel website you visit or the tourist guidebook you read. Don’t be carried away by online hotel ratings, as they can be easily manipulated, however, they should form a basis for some guide.

Hotels have various ratings, one of which is the 5-star hotel star rating system. This system aims to rate hotels based on the quality and amount of amenities it provides its customers. Europe and the U.S. use different hotel star rating systems. In Europe, four stars are the max, whereas the American system goes as high as five. In the U.S., a variety of private agencies and websites award stars, and criteria for the categories vary. A five-star rating system is often used by independent organizations like AAA to rate a hotel. With One star as the lowest rating, and five star as the highest score. Although knowing the best and worst scores is helpful, knowing the meaning of hotel star ratings is much more beneficial.

How are hotels actually rated globally?

  • A one-star rating may simply mean that the hotel offers basic accommodations and limited amenities.
  • Although similar to a one-star hotel, a two-star hotel is generally part of a larger chain and offers a few more amenities.
  • Three-star hotels are typically part of larger, more upscale chains or hotel groups.
  • Four-star hotels are large, upscale establishments, fully staffed and complete with tons of extras.
  • Five-star hotels are the most luxurious properties in the world

Though the hotel star rating system can be vague, confusing and downright arbitrary, it is very common to see a variety of private agencies and websites who award star ratings based on adopted models from international organizations.

Till date, Star Rating in Nigeria has not been structured, unlike South Africa where this is more refined. Earlier this year, the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa officially introduced a new 5-star premium rating. According to the council, the introduction of the new grading level above the 5-star level was in response to a widespread comparative study completed as part of the grading system review process.

A number of similar global quality assurance bodies have made the move to recognise and differentiate those products which exhibit a unique level of product quality, extensive guest amenities and world-class luxury service standards. The lack of structure rating body like the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa in Nigeria has left the rating system in the country unreliably in the hands of the general public, travellers and the travel agencies. This has led to the very confused Star Rating information in the country.

The most reliable Star Rating available today in Nigeria, are those brought in by international hotel brands like the Hilton, Bon Hotels, Accor and many others. These Hotel groups operating in Nigeria come with their brand products ratings which usually conforms to internationally acceptable standards. Most times, these ratings are commensurate with expected global service delivery standard and form some of the most reliable ratings. Though, it is very common to see these international brands drop in standards after operating in Nigeria for only a couple of years for many reasons (topic for another day). For the local brands here in Nigeria, the situation is different. They are without any form of official rating and operate with ratings awarded to them by their investors, or those obtained from Online Travel Agencies (OTA) which usually are not very reliable.

While the everyday Nigerian will classify a hotel based only on its physical structure and architectural designs (The bigger and more beautiful the structure, the higher the star rating), hotel owners and operators will resort to self-acclaimed star rating where they award themselves with stars and most times these self-imposed ratings are bogus and far exceed the facilities and service standards these hotels have to offer. All these contribute to the confusing signals to travellers both local and international who book these hotels online without any form of quality standards assurance. This lack of structure rating system has led to disappointments with many travel plans of travellers ruined after checking into a hotel only to discover they have been misinformed on their standards and ratings. This is not good for consumer confidence. To instigate consumer confidence into the Nigeria hotel industry, there must be a reliable and sustainable rating and classification system that will institute confidence to travellers and online bookers.

Though it is not difficult to rate the Sandralia Hotel, it will be nice to have an official system that gives such properties the requisite star ratings and its associated quality control system they deserve. A reliable Star Rating systems brings about Consumer confidence within the industry. it assures travellers of the facilities and service levels they would get for each star rated hotel they book into. This attracts more business (especially online booking) when travellers are assured that their choice of hotel will come with the corresponding facilities and service levels of their ratings.

Going by consumers reviews on most of the Online Travel Agencies (OTE)’s the Sandralia Hotel need to up their ante in maintenance and service quality delivery to compete at the highest level possible in Nigeria. However these reviews, one thing is certain and whatever systems are adopted, the ideology remains the same— a hotel is rated by its structural amenities and services quality standards and the Sandralia Hotel Abuja remains today, a luxury property with high-class facilities and amenities, and remains one of the top 10 hotels in the city of Abuja.

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