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5 Star Rating Awarded by Visit England

As our first season drew to a close we were taking stock of what we had achieved and where we were when a large envelope arrived through the post marked ‘Visit England’. Whilst this envelope had been eagerly awaited since our recent 24 hour assessment by Cynthia, the Quality in Tourism assessor, we were also a little anxious as it we knew it contained confirmation of whether or not we had achieved the very high score necessary to be awarded their 5 star rating.

We felt that the assessment had gone well, Cynthia doing a very thorough job on behalf of Visit England, meticulously checking the boat and on board facilities and evaluating our quality of service criteria. The visit was quite light hearted and amicable and Cynthia did a wonderful job of making us feel as comfortable as it is possible to feel when under scrutiny! The de-brief was constructive and helpful and on the whole we were happy with the feedback, taking on board Cynthia’s suggestions for some minor enhancements. However, she gave nothing away on the question of what our final score might be so we were left to await the arrival of the Visit England envelope with nervous anticipation!

From day one of the project, right back in the planning stages, one of our aims had always been to try and obtain the highest possible rating with Visit England. Indeed the boat had been designed and built to score the maximum possible in the facility and quality criteria, fitted and furnished to luxury standards. However, the measurable physical criteria only account for 30% of the overall rating score, the majority of the award is based on the quality of the hospitality, service, guest meals, cleanliness etc, a more subjective and difficult to measure assessment of the overall  guest experience.

So the contents of this envelope would tell whether we were doing it right.   We had worked long and hard in put in everything we could, but we were about to find out whether it was enough.

Simplicity itself, the envelope contained a letter of congratulations and a certificate displaying the coveted and longed for ‘5 Stars’. We are told this is a remarkable achievement after only our first season, something to live up to for the future and a very fitting end to a splendid summer.

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