Luxury Hotel Chains Drop Five-Star Rating to Promote Business

It’s not the case that consumers no longer want five-star hotels. They just refuse to pay the price. And so do corporate business units looking to conserve cash and also not send a business-lifestyle gap message between top execs and middle management travelers.

Bloomberg reports that occupancy rates for luxury hotels worldwide fell to 57 percent in the year ending July 2009 through July from 71 percent in the same period a year earlier. More popularly priced accommodations didn’t see such a drop.

The average daily room rate fell at the most luxurious hotels by 16% to $245.13 vs. a midrange price of $87.12.

Back to the hotel stars and — more importantly — whether they really matter to today’s customers.

“A lot of things we all got drunk over can be eliminated and reduced to being less intrusive and hence more economical,” said Lewis Wolff, co-chairman of Martiz, Wolff & Co., owner of luxury hotels including the Ritz in St. Louis, Missouri, a Four Seasons in Toronto and Houston and the Carlyle in New York. “If a five-star hotel was downgraded to a four star, most people would be just as happy.”