How do Hotel Star Ratings Work?

Are you looking into booking your spring vacation but want to avoid any possible pitfalls?  One of the biggest misconceptions that occur while booking a vacation is the interpretation of star ratings. It is not uncommon for people to book a 4-star all-inclusive resort and be disappointed once they arrive. Your 4-star resort could possibly be more of a 2-star resort depending on many variables. Here are some travel tips and guidelines from TICO to follow while booking your spring vacation this year to make sure your trip is FantasTICO.


Look out for Different Standards of Living Outside Canada

Firstly, it is important to consider that different living standards and practices may exist outside Canada including but not limited to:

  • The provision of utilities, such as water and electricity
  • Accommodations
  • Services
  • Food & food preparation
  • Water quality

There is no Standard International Star Rating System

As well, there is no standard international star rating system for hotels and resorts. Every tour operator and/or association has its own quality rating system for rating hotels and resorts located abroad.  The rating systems vary and are based on metrics such as, but not limited to:

  • The country’s standard of living
  • The hotel’s location
  • Proximity to the ocean or other landmarks
  • Various amenities & activities available at the hotel or resort to travellers

Consider that each rating system for hotels and resorts abroad are not always comparable to Canadian standards.

Travel Tips On International Star Rating Systems

Do Your Research &  Ask a Friend for Travel Tips

If you are not familiar with a particular destination, ask your friends about possible vacation spots and ask if they were satisfied with the trip and the arrangements. First-hand references are hard to beat. But remember, you are hearing an opinion based on other people’s likes, dislikes, and standards. Their idea of a good hotel could be quite different from yours.


Book with a TICO Registered Travel Agency

To verify if a travel agency or website is TICO registered, check our online directory.

Take the TICO Traveller Quiz to see what type of traveller you are.

Sign up to receive quarterly travel consumer protection email updates.

For more travel tips and information, visit the Smart Traveller Guide.

All travel agencies and websites located and operating in Ontario are regulated by TICO. Registered travel agencies and websites provide additional consumer protection for your travel investment that may not be available when booking with travel agencies and websites based in other countries or provinces. For more information about how TICO helps, click here.

Any questions can be directed to or 1-888-451-TICO (8426).