Unpacking Star Grading

What exactly does the term “star graded” mean and what is the significance of such a rating for hoteliers and their guests? By Richard Bray.

In a nutshell, the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) has a set grading criteria and minimum standards by which accommodation establishments are rated from one-star to five-star.

These guidelines ensure local establishments uphold their allure as international travel destinations.

Contrary to what it may seem, a one-star rating for instance does not mean a hotel is of a lesser quality. It simply means that there are additional requirements needed to progress to a rating of two-star and upwards.

According to Mina Monare, Consumer Feedback Liaison Officer at the TGCSA, a grading can be changed at a later stage, depending on circumstances. This could either be in the form of a downgrade in star grading level or an upgrade whereby an establishment is reconfigured (through renovations) to meet minimum requirements and standards for a higher star grading level.

She adds: “Star grading in South Africa is voluntary. There are just on 5 300 star graded establishments in the country, a true testament of the star grading system’s value to both tourism operators and travellers.”

Hotels that are eligible for grading are, according to the TGSA website, establishments that provide ‘formal accommodation with full or limited service to the traveling public’. In addition, they have a reception area and offer a dining facility. They must have a minimum of four rooms as well.

The entry requirements for all star ratings by the TGCSA include that an on-site representative must be contactable seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

The website further stipulates that where applicable, any meal(s) and beverages must be provided from outlets within the boundary walls of the property, which may or may not be operated by the property. Servicing of rooms seven days a week must be included and a formal reception area must be provided. Bathroom facilities must be en-suite.

Additional requirements for four-star and five-star ratings include onsite parking with security for guests, a valet service, room service, a concierge, porterage and luggage handling, as well as other services such as baby and child minding, message passing, and newspaper delivery. Full housekeeping and laundry services must also be provided.

By way of example, Premier Hotels & Resorts have several properties in their three-star and four-star categories. These hotels are definitely reaping the many rewards of being star graded, which include exclusive access to the Basket of Benefits – a plethora of tailor-made offerings ranging from discounted procurement and amenities to training and development service providers along with market access.

In conclusion, I quote Monare: “Graded establishments enjoy access to business from the government as only graded establishments can be used by government officials. They have exclusive rights to display the globally-recognised plaque – giving establishments an immediate quality identity.”

About the Author: Richard Bray is the Group Operations Manager for Premier Hotels & Resorts. A born Hotelier, with over 30 years of experience in the hotel and restaurant industry, Richard studied Hotel Management at the Wits Hotel School and holds a Postgraduate Diploma from the University of Pretoria. For more information visit

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