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Orchard Farm News

Five Stars and a Gold Award

...What Does it Actually Signify?...

We had our annual Quality in Tourism inspection last month and have just received confirmation that we retain our Five Stars and a Gold Award for each barn which of course is enormously pleasing. We try all the time to keep updating and improving but one never likes to take things for granted, aware that standards and expectations do keep rising.

We are pleased but we do have reservations and each year we have a gripe.  Almost inevitably there are inconsistencies in the scoring; the quarry tile flooring in both barns is identical, but are scored differently; both barns are decorated by the same professional painter, using Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion: Douglas’s Barn gets 4/5, Tom’s Barn 5/5!

What does it all mean for guests who do not know and probably don’t care?  It’s an indication of quality and what facilities one can expect. Each section – Exterior and Setting,  ‘Management Efficiency’,  Cleanliness, Public Areas, Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Kitchens meets the minimum level for (in our case) Five Star:  What does it mean for the owner? It ensures one keeps up to date, and it is reassurance that one’s standards are not slipping. The inspectors see many different cottages and often can make very helpful suggestions.

Actually to us probably the most pleasing and reassuring element is the Gold Award is for ‘exceptional quality of accommodation and customer service’.

And for Janet, Carol and all of us concerned with the cleanliness and care, the 100% for cleanliness is worth its weight in gold!

So when a new cottage owner asks innocently whether it is worth being assessed by Quality in Tourism or a cynic claims doing so is merely a licence to charge more we would say that the system may not be perfect but it gives guests the chance to make an intelligent choice. Before selecting their holiday accommodation guests can ask themselves, “Is it important to us that our cottage should have a dishwasher, to know it’s super clean, well- equipped….?” Or indeed, “Perhaps we would be happier with unknown/lower expectations and possibly a cheaper price?”

Guests have a measurable standard by which to judge a holiday cottage and it certainly ensures the owners keep on their toes and don’t sit back and rest on their increasingly dusty laurels.

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