Uganda’s race in the preparation for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) due in November is scaling to fever pitch.
15 years ago .
Grading hotels: How it will be done
Uganda’s race in the preparation for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) due in November is scaling to fever pitch.
By Raphael Okello

Uganda’s race in the preparation for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) due in November is scaling to fever pitch.

The much talked about plan to register and classify all hotel establishments in Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso (the primary CHOGM 2007 target zones) is in advanced stages.

Blandina Nshakira, the director Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry, said the exercise, which will start in February to July 2007, will be the first of its kind in Uganda.

Kenya and Tanzania have had their hotels graded.

The exercise, to be conducted by the ministry in conjunction with the local authorities in Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso districts, will foster improvement of the quality of service in the hospitality sector and ensure adequate preparations for hosting CHOGM.

Nshakira said they would use the East African classification system. This system was developed by eminent members of the East African Community Panel of Experts basing on the international standards of classification of hotels, restaurants and other tourist facilities. The team will also assist the ministry during the exercise.

What is considered when
Hotel classification systems may differ from one continent to another, one region to another and from one country to another but there are standard and basic considerations when rating hotels.

- The product. What the hotel provides in terms of food and facilities. And whether facilities like bars, gyms, bathrooms are all working and are of high quality.

- The service. How the hotel services (like meals) are presented to the guests. Is the staff well trained to handle customers nicely? How well and quickly do they help hotel guests whether or not they have been called upon?

- The management system. Is every hotel department (front office, kitchen, housekeeping, accounts and reservations among others) well organised and working properly? Is everyone working at the hotel professionally trained to do the job they are doing?

All these will be assessed and, depending on the general evaluation, be represented by stars.

Serapio Rukundo, the Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, says “It (classification exercise) is going to give five stars to the hotels of the highest grade and one star to the lowest.”

What stars mean:
Star ratings symbolise the level of service, range of facilities and quality of guest care that one can expect at a hotel.

However, the International acceptable standards for each hotel star ratings are:

One star
A hotel provides breakfast to whoever spends a night. It has basic facilities and provides limited services. For example, it will have a restaurant and a simple bar. More than half of its bedrooms should have bathroom and toilet facilities. The hotel does not have a swimming pool or provide room service. However, it should be very clean in and outside.

Two stars
The hotel has bedrooms fully equipped with private bathrooms and toilets and a colour TV. If a hotel is storeyed, it should have lifts. Provides lunch and dinner. The restaurant and bar should be spacious.

Three stars
The hotel has a higher standard of services and facilities like a large swimming pool, gym, sauna, steam bath and aerobics. The bedrooms and public areas like restaurants and bars are larger than in one and two-star hotels. It also provides room and laundry services.

Four stars
The hotel offers accommodation with superior comfort and quality –– all bedrooms with en-suite bath and fitted overhead shower. It has well spacious bars, lounge (rooms for relaxing) among other public areas. A wide range of food types and drinks are served. Room service is offered for all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) including providing drinks, refreshments and snacks anytime. Dry cleaning services available and customer service is excellent.

Five stars
They are very huge, luxurious establishments, offering the highest quality of accommodation, facilities, services and various types of food. They offer a range of facilities like sports grounds, gym, conference rooms, shopping arcade, more than one bar and restaurant. Rooms have specialised services like the Internet and a fully-stocked mini bar. Guests are given maximum attention and care by professional and attentive staff.

However, considering that hotel classification systems differ, the general standards should not be compared with equivalent graded hotels in developed countries.

Implementing the exercise

According to the statement by the ministry, classification will be conducted in two phases.

The first phase will be carried out in February and March on established hotels in Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso districts.

The second phase will be carried out in June and July on hotels still under construction and ones not operational by February. This phase may also require re-classification of hotels previously classified.

At the end of the six- month exercise, there will be three distinct groups of hotels.

The first group will be classified with ‘star rating gazette’. The second group will be listed as ‘meeting the basic requirements’. The third and last group that will fail to meet the recommended improvements will be considered ‘unlisted hotels’.

The statement, from the ministry indicates that recommended improvements will be drawn and a grace period to implement change will be decided. If the changes are not effected, the establishment will be closed and license withdrawn until basic minimum standards are implemented.

How to prepare for classification

All hotel owners and managers are requested to prepare for the exercise by ensuring that their hotels meet all regulatory requirements. For instance, they must have a trading license, certificate of building occupation and health inspection certificates.

The hotels should have all the essential items defined in the East African criteria for classification of hotels.

Hotels should refurbish and implement quality management systems necessary to attain the desired grade. Although the exercise is designated for implementation only in the CHOGM 2007 zone, the classification and grading of hotels is a national exercise that will be extended to other parts of the country.