Clarifying Hotel Ratings


Planning a vacation can be fun and exciting, but choosing the right hotel is often a daunting task. Deciphering what different hotel ratings mean is a good first step in deciding if Bucuti, or any hotel, is right for you.

Bucuti offers an experience equivalent to a four star, deluxe, or four diamond rating. It is ideal for travelers seeking a peaceful and serene setting where they can enjoy laidback and affordable luxury with their significant other or close friends. However, some people see our many awards and accolades, high ratings and five “bubbles” on TripAdvisor and assume that we are comparable to top, full-service five star luxury hotels. While we offer an enjoyable and affordable upscale experience, Bucuti is independently owned and operated. We are not the Four Seasons, and we want potential guests to know this before booking a stay. Deciphering what different hotel ratings mean is a good first step in deciding if Bucuti, or any hotel, is right for you.

Unfortunately, there is no universally standard hotel rating system, which makes understanding ratings all the more difficult. Depending upon where a hotel is located in the world, it could be rated by an independent organization like the Forbes Travel Guide, the AAA (American Automobile Association) or the ADAC (General German Automobile Club); a review site or guidebook like TripAdvisor or Fodor’s; a governmental organization; or even the destination’s tourism board or a tour operator. Each organization assesses hotels using their own set of criteria which can be objective, subjective or a combination of both.

To help you effectively de-code ratings systems when planning your next trip, we have developed a quick guide to the ratings most commonly used to assess Caribbean hotels.


TripAdvisor attracts 455 million unique users each month, and over a million users per year leave detailed reviews for hotels they have visited and attractions they have experienced, along with a rating of 1 to 5 (5 = excellent; 4 = very good; 3 = average; 2 = poor; 1 = terrible). TripAdvisor uses these ratings to determine the number of green bubbles that appear below a hotel’s name on the site. These bubbles are not the result ofa formal evaluation coupled with a guest’s personal experience.TripAdvisor users have overwhelmingly rated their stays at Bucuti as excellent, but that does not mean we are a five star hotel. We are simply the right type of hotel for these specific guests.


AAA diamond ratings are determined by inspectors who visit tens of thousands of hotels around the world, completely unannounced. Properties that meet approval requirements during these site inspections receive the "AAA Inspected & Approved” designation. All Inspected & Approved hotels are then rated on a scale of one to five diamonds, based upon overall quality, range of facilities, and level of services. The AAA website provides individual ratings for a hotel’s rooms, bathrooms, and public areas, along with inspectors’ notes detailing the high points of their personal experiences there. Bucuti is a AAA Four Diamond property which, according to AAA is “upscale in all areas” with accommodations that are “progressively more refined and stylish” along with “an extensive array of amenities combined with a high degree of hospitality, service, and attention to detail.” Less than six percent of the nearly 29,000 hotels approved by AAA achieve Four Diamond status, and we are proud that Bucuti is one of them.

Forbes Travel Guide

Forbes Travel Guide, which began as the Mobil Travel Guide in 1958, positions itself as a global authority on luxury travel. Their anonymous professional inspectors travel the world to evaluate hotels, restaurants and spas against as many as 800 demanding standards that focus on “graciousness, thoughtfulness and a sense of personalized service.” These can range from the number of hangers in the closet to the presence of a spa and whether or not a property has elevators. A hotel’s overall score is determined using an algorithm that emphasizes service, which is weighted at 75 percent with the quality of the property weighted at 25 percent.  The Forbes Travel Guide recognizes hotels as Five Star, Four Star, and Recommended Properties. Though Forbes Travel Guide has evaluated a number of Caribbean hotels, no hotels in Aruba are currently rated.

Forbes’ Luxury Travel Writer Jim Dobson is quoted as describing Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort as “the ultimate in affordable privacy for luxury travelers.”


A trusted guidebook since 1957, Frommer’s offers a star rating system where industry experts personally appraise each hotel in terms of their overall enthusiasm for it. They look to bestow stars upon hotels that will make a trip authentic and unforgettable. Amenities do not come into play when deciding which hotels receive Frommer’s ratings of One Star (Recommended); Two Star (Very Highly Recommended) or Three Star (Exceptional). Bucuti is designated Three Star by Frommer’s.

Frommer’s has consistently recommended Bucuti as one of the Best Hotels in Aruba.


Fodor’s is another guidebook that classifies top hotels, attractions and experiences around the world through their Fodor’s Choice designation which can be identified by orange stars in the Fodor’s guidebooks and on These selections indicate the “best of the best” and provide “remarkable experiences in their price range, destination or category.” Bucuti is proud to be a Fodor’s Choice property for many years.

We hope this helps you select the perfect hotel for your next vacation. If you have a specific question about any aspect of the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort experience, please reach out to a trusted travel advisor or email us directly at