Should the industry adopt some sort of international rating standard that would supersede the ever-growing number of independent and consumer-generated Internet ranking sites? Is that even possible? Does a sixth tier need to be created to add new, ultra-luxury properties to what have traditionally been five-category ranking systems?

"A system that was originally created to set some standardized expectations for the hospitality industry and inform and educate the consumer has now mutated into one that does exactly the opposite," Rob Rush, president and CEO of the hospitality and leisure customer experience management consultancy LRA Worldwide, wrote recently in a newsletter.

"While Mobil will proffer its star system and AAA will offer the comfort of the diamonds, the truth of the matter is that it's the wild, wild West out there. Any property with an overeager public relations firm and an on-call, poolside perspiration valet can stake a claim to star-driven fabulousness."

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