FOR a few businesses, success in The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business Awards is not the only barometer of corporate success. Since becoming Retailer of the Year 2008 last November (and then the overall Business of the Year award), the George Hotel and Brasserie in Buckden has won the coveted Visit Britain Gold Award. Now, for the third year running, the George has achieved the highest AA rating in the area. With an impressive merit of 86 per cent, awarded just a few days ago by an anonymous hotel inspector from the AA, the George joins the top eight per cent of three-star hotels nationwide that are above the 85 per cent mark. "There are very few industries which have such checks on their product and quality," said general manager Cynthia Schaeffer. "There is no AA check on garden centres or AA inspection of our fashion retail shop next to the hotel. There is no website to check out the rating of a shop before you shop there. "The AA inspection is a great way to focus one's attention on what is being done right and what areas have room for improvement. Getting an 86 per cent rating is a great pat on the back for everyone who works in the hotel," she added. "The Business Awards is another way for any business to focus attention on the successes of its own business over the last 12 months and where the business may be going in the next few years. "It certainly focused our minds on why people come to the hotel, and it was the final push for building our wonderful Orangerie to hold private functions as well as smaller-scale business presentations and the facility to extend the brasserie on busy evening service. Its success has far exceeded our expectations." Ms Schaeffer said winning Retailer of the Year seemed a slightly strange category because the hotel industry had always been linked with hospitality and not retail. "But the principles are the same, and in our case, with the ladies clothes shop next door, could not be more appropriate. The two businesses have a synergy, boosting the offer each individual business can offer - it is an overall wonderful shopping experience." She added: "However much you praise your team of staff, there is nothing more rewarding and satisfying than having someone externally to say how wonderful your place is and what a marvellous team you have." Ms Schaeffer, left, is pictured with head chef Ray Smikle and assistant manager Craig Minney.