Thursday, October 22, 2009

Heaven at the world's first seven-star hotel

Italian hotelier Alessandro Rosso is not afraid of a challenge. When the owner of the sleek Italian hotel group, Town House, decided to open a new flagship hotel in Milan, he didn't just want to create the best hotel in town. He wanted to create a hotel so good, it needed a whole new rating system. That's how the world's first seven-star hotel was born.

Until now, the best hotels in the world have been awarded five stars. This may come as a surprise to readers who have treated themselves to a stay at a so-called six-star hotel but, officially, there's no such thing. The term was first applied to Dubai's Burj Al Arab when it opened - not by the hotel itself, mind you, but by visitors and journalists as a way of describing the property's extra level of luxury. Since then, the term has been bandied about with increasing frequency. However, until now, there's been no official standard to distinguish an "ordinary" five-star hotel from one that offers an even more indulgent experience.

Rosso found a simple solution - he hired a company to create a new ranking system. Swiss company SGS specialises in management systems, audits and certifications. After analysing various structural and service aspects, it used the findings to create a set of detailed technical specifications that became Rosso's blueprint to deliver the world's first seven-star hotel.

The Town House Galleria is not an experience that everyone can enjoy. For one thing, room rates start at EUR1000 ($2035) a night, rising to EUR3900. For another, the hotel, which has just 20 rooms, seems to be booked out much of the time. As an exercise, I checked availability for 10 separate dates this year and found rooms on only two of them.


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