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Forbes Travel Guide - How it Became The Most Iconic Luxury Standard Guide

Some of you may have heard the term “5 star hotel” thrown around frequently. Many may be wondering where these stars came from, who decides this and how a hotel and its staff prepare for such a rating. The answer to all of these queries is simple: Forbes Travel Guide.

Forbes Travel Guide launched in the late 1950’s and quickly established itself as the primary authority for luxury hotels- rating all of the top hotels in the USA (and later the world) based on its stringent standards on luxury. In recent years, Forbes Travel Guide has expanded its services, to not only evaluate hotels based on their luxury standard, but also to impart this standard onto hotels and hoteliers willing to learn.

So, in this article I hope to shed a little light on the luxury world of Forbes Travel Guide, and for those who are particularly interested in adopting this world into their own career, we have a little surprise for you…

Forbes Travel Guide: The Luxury Authority

We begin our journey in 1958, when the initial Forbes Travel Guide was published. Initially created by the US oil company Mobil and publishing company Simon & Schuster, under the name “Mobil Travel Guide” as a guide for motorists to choose lodgings during their travels. The publication operated using a simple star system (with one star being at the bottom of the scale and 5 being at the higher end) based upon the experiences of their paid, anonymous staff.  These early beginnings has established Forbes Travel Guide as the oldest and most well esteemed travel guide in the USA.

Through its easy-to-read and unbiased rating system, the Mobil Travel Guide quickly became a hit, and an essential item for those wanting to travel in the USA. Throughout the upcoming years of the 1960’s-80’s, the hotels covered by the guide spread across the USA, reviewing multiple hotels and becoming even more popular and trusted with its fanbase. The 5 star rating quickly became a coveted status symbol in the hotel industry, with multiple establishments adopting more and more luxury practices in the hope of earning the rating. In this sense, the Mobil Travel Guide was one of the founding parties of US luxury hospitality as we know it, the founding base for Forbes Travel Guide!

Fast forward to 2008 and the Mobil Travel Guide, along with its iconic star system, makes its first venture abroad. With publications of the guide being released about Hong Kong, Beijing and Macau. Later on, in 2009, the guide would be liscenced to Forbes Publishing and given its current name: Forbes Travel Guide. Forbes Travel Guide was finally converted entirely online in 2011, and thus enter the travel guide as we know it today.

In 2020, Forbes Travel Guide has rated  1898 properties spanning over 73 different countries and it continues to expand every year!

Properties Following The 5 Star Rating

While there are almost 2000 hotels rated by the Forbes Travel Guide, only 432  of said hotels were able to achieve the top rating.  Because of its exclusivity and the guide’s unbiased, extensive luxury rating standards (made up of over 900 objective criteria) This rating is highly coveted in the hospitality industry. Here are just a few of the properties that hold the 5 star rating:

The Baccarat, New York USA

Nestled in the wealthy Manhattan area of New York. The Baccarat is one of the few  boutique hotels that has achieved a 5 star rating. Famed for its indulgence in Baccarat crystal decor (of which the hotel gets its name) this beautiful hotel also features mica-covered vaulted ceiling, silver-leafed wood paneling, gleaming parquet oak floors and pleated silk walls- to overwhelm any visitor with a healthy dose of the finer things in life

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai UAE

The Burj Al Arab is the pinnacle of luxury decadence that Dubai has become famous for in the past decade. With a fully customizable guest experience from multiple luxury entrances and exits (such as yachts and helicopters) to menus specifically for your pillows. The Burj Al Arab goes above and beyond to make their guests feel like royalty, and has earned its place at the top of the Forbes rating system.

Faena Hotel, Miami, USA

Faena Hotel has earned it’s glamorous reputation due in part to its extravagant services, beautifully themed decor and luxurious, South American themed spa. However the hotel has also worked hard to craft its image into one of a “cultural hub” of the city. Having been built on the site of the culturally significant Saxon hotel where the likes of Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin often performed. As the  Forbes Travel Guide puts it:  “Faena’s reimagining of the hotel brings back that Old Hollywood glamour with a modern take in an attempt to catalyze a cultural renaissance in Miami.”

The Little Knell, Aspen, USA

The Little Knell is situated in the base of one of Aspen’s famous mountains. This gives guests the freedom to experience the location in the manner they choose. Whether it is partaking in the world famous Aspen ski slopes, exploring the culture of the city itself, or just sitting in front of a fireplace and enjoying the hotel’s extensive amenities- the guest will have it all. On top of this, the service of The Little Knell is considered to be top notch, with the entirety of the staff knowing your name in the moment you set foot through the doors!

The Mandarin Oriental, Doha, Qatar

The Mandarin Oriental was the first luxury hotel to grace downtown Doha in Qatar. Styled with a touch of Middle Eastern flare, the hotel itself is designed to both warmly greet guests and astound them with luxury and style. The idea behind the hotel is to be the “oasis” of the city, and with its many rooftop pools, thoughtful and intricately designed  rooms alongside the 32,600-square-foot spa- the guests will ultimately gain this impression upon leaving.

Forbes 5 Star Training

So, by now you would have gathered an idea as to what is meant by a 5 star rating within the Forbes Travel Guide, but how do hotels prepare and maintain such luxurious standards? Well for starters  many hotels  have developed their own training to adhere to these standards. However Forbes Travel Guide has recognized the need for a more comprehensive guide to fulfilling its own standard of luxury- Enter the Forbes Training.  

Forbes Travel Guide training consists of 16 interactive lessons and 43 video lessons to provide a full, holistic approach to luxury. Those who take the course will learn:

  • The role of each operational role in the overall guest experience 
  • The different classifications of the luxury standard and why they are implemented 
  • How guest experience can be enhanced in all areas of the hotel
  • The essential formula to cultivating the perfect guest experience

This is just a small taste of what the course offers. In general, the philosophy of the training is to not just explain how to give a luxurious guest experience, but to inform the hows and the whys  behind it. After taking said course,  you will be able to both implement upstanding service and understand the philosophy behind it. This is coupled with the intense eye for detail that is required for any Hospitalian wanting to implement luxury into their work environment.

Who Needs This Training And Why?

In short: Everyone who is in the hospitality industry. To elaborate: the training itself is not just an operational guide, but in fact the essential philosophy of luxury hospitality itself. This training is given straight from the minds who devised the international standard of luxury hospitality- the same organisation who may one day be inspecting your very own place of work for these standards. In terms of personal development for those in the hospitality industry, this course is a must have!

However, while personal development is great and all, it doesn’t exactly pay the bills, so how can this course actually help you in your career? Well, remember the hotels we spoke about earlier? All of these hotels have worked hard to achieve their coveted 5 star rating and expect their employees to follow the standard set forth by Forbes Travel Guide. In fact many of the very same 5 star hotels listed by Forbes Travel Guide, offer the training as a compulsory aspect of their own training program!  Therefore, if any candidate has already proven themselves to be acquainted with said standards, this is already a huge step in the right direction.

Assuming you are not interested in working in an established 5 star hotel, maybe you want to improve your family business or even go on to start your own? Well, where better to learn the standards that your business will need to meet than from those who wrote them? 

In any scenario, that a hospitality professional or student may find themselves in, Forbes training can only boost your career and for those wanting to start a career in a luxury hotel- it is an absolute must.

So, remember that surprise I mentioned? Well here it is:  Hospitality Academy is now opening their own learning platform, Academia de hospitalidad, and the Forbes Luxury Hospitality Diploma is one of our most prestigious lessons available! If you want to take your luxury hospitality career to the next level, simply email 

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Hospitality Academy tiene asociaciones con las escuelas e instituciones más reconocidas para brindar el servicio educativo y profesional más asequible para aquellos que buscan continuar creciendo en cualquier parte del mundo. 

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