Everyone loves a prize so it is no surprise that hotel awards are ripe to be exploited. Most of these so-called prize ceremonies are marketing exercises designed to enrich their sponsor. Why any hotelier, however desperate for recognition, falls for these bogus events beats me.
The latest wheeze comes from a company, called Open Eye, which has sent an email to a number of British hotels telling them they are on a shortlist for the UK Hotels Award ceremony to be held at Central Hall, Westminster. 'These key awards represent the pinnacle of performance', it boasts. 'They are the only business-oriented awards in the UK hotel sector.' It goes on to claim that over 900 entries have been received and that an additional 220 nominations have been made by third parties. 'After a thousand hours of research and evaluation', guess what? 'We are considering making one of the pinnacle awards to yourself but before doing so, need to know if you are willing to participate in contributing to the gravitas of the day.' Finally, the sting: 'We will ask you to make a contribution of £496 towards the event.'
If you telephone Open Eye, you get a message saying that all its operators are busy. Strangely, they always are. Eventually I reached the company’s secretary and asked why there was no booking at Central Hall for the prize ceremony. I did not get much of an answer, but she did tell me that the judge of the awards was Bevin Crowley of 9am GM News, described as the editor of two hotel journals, and 'the most widely travelled observer on the world stage'. Perhaps he was on his travels but I could not trace either Mr Crowley or 9am GM News.
Since 1984, the Good Hotel Guide has also staged an annual award ceremony in which ten Césars (named after a famous Swiss hotelier) are given to hotels and B&Bs which are outstanding in their particular category. The awards are based on detailed research. No money passes hands. There is no shortlist. The Sunday Times has reviewed our selections for the past 10 years.
How do we select our Césars? The process begins with reports from readers whose judgment we trust. If a hotel or B&B starts to attract exceptionally good reviews, we send an inspector to stay anonymously for a night at our expense to see if the hotel or B&B is a candidate for an award. Winning a César, described as the Oscars of the hotel industry, is difficult, sustaining it over the years no less so. Hotels keep their César so long as they remain in the same ownership and maintain their original quality. As always, the crucial test remains that set by our founding editor, Hilary Rubinstein, thirty five years ago: ‘A good hotel is where the guest comes first.’