Posts Tagged ‘Heather Hunter’

Heather HunterBy Bob Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA

WASHINGTON, D.C, (April 3, 2014) — “This week’s hearings regarding GM’s handling of the Cobalt ignition recall answered a few questions but raised more. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that NHTSA oversight failed to mitigate the admitted failure of GM to protect the interests of its customers.

While Mary Barra deserves credit for admitting GM’s shortcomings, the notion that a well-established corporate culture of cost can be swiftly replaced with a culture of safety begs further pondering. It is far easier to discuss corporate culture than to actually change it.

There is much more to be learned about what occurred and why. The Department of Justice inquiry should help determine whether the other dimension of the problem is weak legislation/regulation, or weak enforcement, or both.

What is not in doubt is that the motoring public is entitled to better than what we have already observed in this case.”

Heather HunterHundreds of high school students across America compete for the opportunity to represent their state in the 65th Annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Challenge

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 1, 2014) – Innovation and ingenuity will be on display at locations across the country this spring as the brightest young automotive minds from coast-to-coast will gather to compete for millions of dollars in scholarships in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the prestigious event, as well as 30 years AAA has been involved in the Student Auto Skills competition; Ford Motor Company began its partnership with the competition 20 years ago.

The 2014 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Challenge State Hands-On competitions will commence Tuesday, April 15 in Birmingham, Ala. and continue across the country through May 15. Top teams from each state advance to the national finals at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. June 8 – 10. At the national finals, champions from each state will vie for millions of dollars in scholarships, automotive equipment and   a trip to the Wood Brothers Racing facility where the students and instructor will work on race cars and learn from top automotive engineers.

Below are the dates and locations of 2014 FORD AAA State Hands-On Competitions:

  • Birmingham, Ala. – Tuesday, April 15
  • Okmulgee, Okla.  – Thursday, April 17
  • Kansas City, Mo./Kan. – Thursday, April 17
  • Warren, Mich. – Wednesday, April 23
  • Milford, Neb. – Thursday, April 24
  • Indianapolis, Ind. – Friday, April 25
  • Atlanta, Ga. – Friday, April 25
  • Little Rock, Ark. – Friday, April 25
  • Anchorage, Alaska. – Friday, April 25
  • Charlotte, N.C./S.C. – Saturday, April 26
  • Baltimore, Md.  – Saturday, April 26
  • Honolulu, Hawaii – Saturday, April 26
  • Jackson, Miss. – Tuesday, April 29
  • Atco, N.J. – Wednesday, April 30
  • Cheyenne, Wyo. – Thursday, May, 1
  • Bridgeport, W.Va. – Thursday, May 1
  • Sandy, Utah – Thursday, May 1
  • Nashville, Tenn. – Thursday, May 1
  • Sioux Falls, S.D. – Thursday, May 1
  • Warwick, R.I.  – Thursday, May 1
  • Helena, Mont. – Thursday, May 1
  • Alexandria, La.  – Thursday, May 1
  • La Porte, Texas – Friday, May 2
  • West Fargo, N.D. – Friday, May 2
  • Richmond, Va. – Saturday, May 3
  • Epping, N.H./Maine/Vt. – Saturday, May 3
  • Albuquerque, N.M. – Saturday, May 3
  • Renton, Wash. – Tuesday, May 6
  • Mequon, Wis. – Wednesday, May 7
  • Bethlehem, Pa. – Wednesday, May 7
  • Chanhassen, Minn. – Wednesday, May 7
  • Independence, Ohio – Thursday, May 8
  • Norwood, Mass. – Thursday, May 8
  • Sparta, Ky. – Thursday, May 8
  • Gresham, Ore. – Friday, May 9
  • Lisle, Ill. – Friday, May 9
  • Nampa, Idaho – Friday, May 9
  • South Windsor, Conn. – Friday, May 9
  • Danville, Calif. – Friday, May 9
  • Pomona, Calif. – Friday, May 9
  • Avondale, Ariz. – Friday, May 9
  • Denver, Colo. – Saturday, May 10
  • Morrisville, N.Y. – Tuesday, May 13
  • Ankeny, Iowa – Tuesday, May 13
  • Dover, Del. – Tuesday, May 13
  • Sanford, Fla. – Wednesday, May 1
  • Sparks, Nev. – Thursday, May 15

At the State Hands-On Competition, teams will race against the clock to correctly diagnose and repair a deliberately “bugged” 2014 Ford Fiesta SE. A combination an online written exam and hands-on competition scores determine each state’s championship team that will compete in the national finals. For additional details on 2014 State Hands-On Competition locations and dates, visit AutoSkills.AAA.com.

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition is open to 11th and 12th grade students in secondary schools and colleges across the country that offer courses in automotive technology. Teams competing in the State Hands-On Competitions represent the 10 teams that scored highest on a statewide online written exam, administered at the beginning of the competition in January.

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition enables many of its participants to embark on promising careers in the automotive repair industry to help fuel the rising demand for well-trained technicians that can repair both computer and mechanical components in today’s advanced vehicles.  Both the national and the state-wide competitions are organized with the support of AAA and Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and the AAA Approved Auto Repair program, a free public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country.

About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills

Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition that offers   millions of dollars in scholarships and prizes to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians.  Approximately 13,000 students from across the U.S. compete for the chance to represent their school and state in the National Finals. The competition tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities. For additional information on the competition, visit http://autoskills.aaa.com/.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 181,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit corporate.ford.com.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather HunterNew study conducted by the AAA Automotive Research Center shows electric vehicle driving range can be nearly 60 percent lower in extreme cold and 33 percent lower in extreme heat.

ORLANDO, Fla., (March 20, 2014) – Electric Vehicles (EVs) are energy efficient and environmentally-friendly with the added benefit of reducing fuel costs for motorists. But, just as motorists need to know how far the gas in their tank will take them, EV drivers need to be aware of how far their vehicle can travel on a single charge. According to new AAA research conducted with the AAA Automotive Research Center in Southern California, electric vehicle range can be reduced by an average of 57 percent based on the temperature outside.

Additional Resources

“Electric motors provide smooth operation, strong acceleration, require less maintenance than internal combustion engines, and for many motorists offer a cost effective option,” said John Nielsen, managing director, AAA Automotive Engineering and Repair. “However, EV drivers need to carefully monitor driving range in hot and cold weather.”

To better understand the impact of climate on electric vehicle batteries, AAA conducted a simulation to measure the driving range of three fully-electric vehicles in cold, moderate and hot weather. Temperature made a big difference in driving range for all three EVs.

Vehicles were tested for city driving to mimic stop-and-go traffic, and to better compare with EPA ratings listed on the window sticker. The average EV battery range in AAA’s test was 105 miles at 75°F, but dropped 57 percent to 43 miles when the temperature was held steady at 20°F. Warm temperatures were less stressful on battery range, but still delivered a lower average of 69 miles per full charge at 95°F.

AAA performed testing between December 2013 and January 2014. Each vehicle completed a driving cycle for moderate, hot and cold climates following standard EPA-DOE test procedures. The vehicles were fully charged and then “driven” on a dynamometer in a climate-controlled room until the battery was fully exhausted.

AAA has initiated several projects including mobile recharging units and EV charging stations to support members who drive electric vehicles. EVs provide owners with many benefits, but every motorist needs to be aware of conditions that can impact vehicle driving range. EV drivers need to plan carefully in hot and cold weather. Mapping tools such as the AAA TripTik® Travel Planner pinpoint charging stations to keep motorists on the go.

Additional information regarding AAA’s electric vehicle testing is available on the AAA NewsRoom.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather HunterNext AAA PetBook edition to feature winners from California and Rhode Island

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 20, 2014) – If it’s true that “Every dog has his day,” that moment has arrived for two photogenic pooches from California and Rhode Island. These lucky dogs were selected as winners of the latest AAA PetBook® Photo Contest sponsored by Best Western, a AAA Preferred Hotel Partner. The winners will appear on covers of the 16th edition Traveling With Your Pet: The AAA PetBook, available this May.

The first-place winner, a mixed-breed California dog and avid runner named Phoochie, will be pictured on the book’s back cover in a photo taken outside the California State Capitol in Sacramento. “One of the most surprising things about the photo is that Phoochie sat still long enough for someone to take it,” said owner Melissa Banda. The family enjoys visiting dog parks, dog beaches and other places where Phoochie has the freedom to run like the wind.

The second-place winner, Radar, a Pembroke Welsh corgi from Rhode Island, will appear on the book’s spine enjoying an autumn afternoon at Cathedral Ledge in the mountains of New Hampshire. “He enjoys getting exercise and fresh air while hiking the many trails, swimming and even a bit of mountain climbing,” said owner Nancy Liu.  “Many of the shops welcome dogs, and we stayed at one of the many dog-friendly hotels. It even had a cookie jar full of dog biscuits at the front desk!”

In addition to cover fame, the winners receive pet treats, copies of The AAA PetBook and cash. The first-place winner also receives a Best Western Travel Card that can be used at more than 4,000 hotels worldwide, including more than 1,600 pet-friendly properties.

Several more irresistible pets will also enjoy a year of star treatment. On the book’s front cover, an exceptional photo from a previous contest features Jazz, a Dalmatian from Pennsylvania, donning his spots alongside a striped lighthouse on Hatteras Island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Another 46 photos, selected as contest finalists, are pictured inside the book and, new this year, on a AAA Pinterest board where all pet lovers had an opportunity to vote in their favorite: a pair of Samoyeds named Moxie and Brio at a beach in their home state of Oregon.

Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook is a valuable resource for travelers who include their furry family members when traveling. The listings for nearly 15,000 pet-friendly places throughout the U.S. and Canada include thousands of AAA Approved Diamond Rated hotels, hundreds of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated restaurants that allow pets in outside dining areas and more than 800 campgrounds.

The detailed hotel listings include fees, permitted pet sizes and conditions of stay for properties at every Diamond Rating level, from clean and simple motels to family-oriented properties to luxurious resorts. The book also includes information about pet-friendly activities, planning tips, travel etiquette and safety.

Visit AAA.com/PetBook for contest rules, entry forms, a photo gallery and valuable pet travel tips. The next photo contest opens in May when the 16th edition Traveling With Your Pet: The AAA PetBook, cover price $18.95 U.S., hits the shelves at participating AAA and CAA offices and bookstores. The digital edition, cover price $9.99, is available through online booksellers.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ABOUT BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL, INC.
Best Western International, Inc., headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., is a privately held hotel brand made up of more than 4,000* BEST WESTERN®, BEST WESTERN PLUS® and  BEST WESTERN PREMIER® hotels in more than 100* countries and territories worldwide. Now celebrating 68 years of hospitality, Best Western welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests nightly. Best Western provides its hoteliers with global operational, sales, marketing and promotional support, and online and mobile booking capabilities. More than 20 million travelers are members of the brand’s award-winning loyalty programBest Western Rewards®, one of the few programs in which members earn points that never expire and can be redeemed at any Best Western hotel worldwide. The brand’s partnerships with AAA/CAA and Harley-Davidson® provide travelers with exciting ways to interact with the brand. In 2013, Best Western earned our highest level of brand recognition, including our fifth AAA/CAA Hotel Partner of the Year award, second Compuware Best of the Web Gold award, fourth No. 1 ranking in Brand Keys Consumer Loyalty Engagement Index for midscale hotels and seventh TTG Asia Best Mid-range Hotel Brand. Forty-one percent of Best Western hotels worldwide won TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence for customer satisfaction.

*Numbers are approximate and may fluctuate.

Heather HunterCozy cafes and simple eateries coast to coast beckon locals and travelers with down-home favorites like pot pies and skillet scrambles 

ORLANDO, Fla., (Feb. 4, 2014) Some of the most exciting aspects of travel are seeing new sights, experiencing different cultures and sampling unfamiliar cuisines. Yet every now and then, even the most die-hard road warrior can become a bit homesick. That’s when just the sight and smells of favorite dishes can make everything seem much, much better.  AAA inspectors, who each year experience hundreds of restaurants, share 10 of their favorite places to enjoy a taste of home.

Travelers can read about nearly 70 AAA Inspector Picks for Favorite Comfort Food Restaurants on the AAA TravelViews blog, and explore thousands of additional restaurants in the AAA.com Travel Guides.

American Flatbread, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Pizza, Burlington, Vt.

Red and white checkered table cloths. Warmth emanating from the wood-fired earthen oven in the corner of the dining room. This is where comfort comes to relax. Ask for a table near the kitchen and watch as flatbread pizzas are expertly prepared in a mesmerizing show. Ingredients are seasonal, organic and locally grown, a true reflection of many Vermonters’ healthy lifestyle. It’s a block from the Flynn Theater, perfect for before a show.

Angie’s Waterloo, AAA/CAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Canadian, Waterloo, Ontario

A great place to enjoy real country hospitality and tasty home-style fare. A local favorite since 1962, the restaurant covers its walls with newspaper clippings of local events and family photos. The scent of fresh baked pies, breads and cookies rouses one’s appetite. The country breakfasts, fish and chips and daily specials make this multi-generational institution a tradition for many.

Big Pink, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/American, Miami Beach, Fla.

“Real Food for Real People…Really” is the motto here, a fixture on Miami Beach since 1996. Everything on the menu is super-sized, so make room in your refrigerator for leftovers.  Try the Big Pink TV dinner daily special, the Thanksgiving on a roll or the mouthwatering foot-long hot dog made with Kobe beef. The tables are chock-a-block close, so get cozy and don’t be surprised if a neighboring diner asks for a smidgen of your peanut butter s’mores. A great place to people watch, especially in the early morning hours after a long night out.

Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant, AAA Two Diamond, Family Dining/American, Bryce Canyon City, Utah

For over 50 years, travelers have been waking up to traditional, country-style breakfasts in front of an old wood stove at this rustic cottage complex. Primarily known for its homemade soups and pies, the daily menu offers generous portions of basic American fare like cowboy steaks, fresh local trout and chicken fried steak. Locals swear by a rule to eat dessert first — and why not with one of the largest selections of homemade pie around!

Cap City Fine Diner & Bar, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Comfort Food, Gahanna, Ohio

This smartly-styled retro diner, appointed with mosaic tile floors, futuristic light fixtures and stainless steel walls, is an excellent place for generous portions of comfort foods. There are usually several soups available, but one can always expect steak and bean chili. A good choice for a hearty entrée is the meatloaf stack, served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, onion rings and barbecued gravy. Another delicious option is the Southern fried chicken. Worthy desserts include the “Seriously Big Chocolate Cake” and “24K Carrot Cake.”

Georgia Brown’s, AAA Three Diamond, Casual Dining/Regional American, Washington, D.C.

This stylish restaurant serves up contemporary Southern cooking, with an emphasis on the Low Country of South Carolina, right in the heart of the city.  The menu boasts down-home dishes like buttermilk fried chicken, country-fried meatloaf, sour mash pork chops, cornmeal-fried catfish and twice-cooked pork shank with sweet potato cheese grits. Enjoy live jazz every Wednesday night, “’Cause it’s been said that she knocks ‘em dead … ooooh sweet Georgia Brown!” as the song lyrics say. Valet parking available for dinner only.

La Palma Chicken Pie Shop & Restaurant, AAA One Diamond, Family Dining/American, Anaheim, Calif.

As you enter the front door the aroma of fresh-baked pies quickly alerts your senses to the down-home cooking you are about to enjoy. Start with piping hot chicken noodle soup or chicken pie. Fried chicken is always a good bet but, whatever you choose, don’t leave without a slice of — you guessed it — homemade fruit pie.  Decorative roosters and hens adorn every inch of free space. Seating includes tables and benches, with plenty of paper napkins to help wipe the deliciousness off your face.

The Meatball Shop, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/ Italian Comfort Food, New York, N.Y.

What could be more comforting than a meatball? This popular little place in Greenwich Village serves up some of the best, whether it is straight ground beef, spicy pork, chicken or even veggie topped with tomato sauce, mushroom gravy or parmesan cream. To up the comfort level, order them as meatball sliders. Despite the many “ball” options, they keep it casual here; no reservations are taken, so arrive early to avoid a wait.

The Moose Cafe, AAA One Diamond, Family Dining/Southern, Asheville, N.C.

Perched on a rise and offering a panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains, you’ll feel right at home the moment you step foot inside. Grab a seat and tear into a plate of hot, flaky biscuits, served with homemade apple butter, sorghum and honey. Order up a sweet tea served in a mason jar, setting the tone for the Southern delicacies to follow. The café is adjacent to a farmer’s market, so when the vegetables are at their peak, they are on your table for authentic ‘farm to table’ dining, nestled away in the Carolina mountains.

Salt Lick Bar-B-Q, AAA One Diamond, Casual Dining/BBQ, Driftwood, Texas

“You can smell our pits from miles away!” With a slogan like that, you’d better deliver – and the Salt Lick Bar-B-Q surely does. If you get a chance to swing by the original location in Driftwood, you’re in for great time and a great meal.  This popular fun spot serves brisket, pork and beef ribs, sausage, chicken and turkey. For lighter fare choose a sandwich, or tip the scale the other direction with the all-you-can-eat family style extravaganza.

About AAA Inspections

AAA offers the only rating program that conducts comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. And, with far more Approved properties than any other rating entity, AAA operates the only rating system covering the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Travelers can find AAA Diamond Rated establishments across AAA’s online, mobile and printed travel information products.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather Hunter

Travel agency honored for dedication to partnership that creates unique and memorable vacations for AAA members

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 22, 2014) – AAA Travel, one of the largest leisure travel agencies in North America, was recently honored by Royal Caribbean International with the Loyal to Royal Consortia Partner of the Year award. The award recognizes AAA as top performing travel agents and for commitment to the cruise line. Royal Caribbean is a AAA preferred partner and as such offers members exclusive benefits and discounts through AAA Travel.

“We are honored to be recognized with the award that demonstrates the strength of our partnership,” said William Sutherland, AAA vice president, travel services. “As a preferred partner Royal Caribbean has demonstrated strong dedication and commitment to providing AAA members with exciting travel experiences.”

“We are thrilled to name AAA as Royal Caribbean 2014 Consortia Partner of the Year,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of Sales, Trade Support and Services, Royal Caribbean International. “AAA is committed to this partnership and we thank all AAA travel agents for having the confidence in Royal Caribbean to book their clients on our ships and their important role in creating WOW vacations.”

In addition to the Consortia Partner of the Year award, AAA Carolinas was named Royal Caribbean’s Southeast Region Partner of the Year. Late last year Royal Caribbean was named AAA’s Cruise Partner of the year.

Loyal to You Always is Royal Caribbean’s historical commitment of unwavering support for travel agents and helping them increase profits and grow their businesses. Loyal to You Always is built on four principles: Personal interaction and support; Valuable resources that get results; increasing profits for travel agents; and Award-winning travel agent education and development programs.

More than 1,000 accredited, full-service travel agency offices are located in the United States and Canada to serve members and the public. AAA Travel services include the sale of worldwide air, cruise and rail tickets; escorted tours and independent tour arrangements; hotel and car rental reservations, a variety of travel insurance programs and the AAA branded product, AAA Vacations®, designed for members offering exciting itineraries, engaging experiences and exclusive values.

Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 45-year legacy

of innovation and introducing industry “firsts” never before seen at sea. The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean including jaw-dropping, Broadway-style entertainment and industry-acclaimed programming that appeals to families and adventurous vacationers alike. Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSE:RCL), the cruise line sails 21 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, South America, the Far East, and Australia and New Zealand.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

DesmondJordonOnly 124 luxurious hotels and 59 world-class restaurants across North America were selected to receive the travel authority’s highest property rating

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 17, 2014) – Today AAA announced the 183 select establishments that earned the AAA/CAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for the 2014 Five Diamond Award® lists. This exclusive group represents just 0.3 percent of the 59,000 AAA/CAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. Five Diamond establishments stand apart using highly personalized approaches and creativity to enhance guest comfort and provide memorable experiences.

Additional Resources

 

As a result of this year’s additions, Chicago is now on par with New York City in its wealth of fine dining options, each home to seven Five Diamond restaurants. To the north, Québec now boasts Canada’s highest concentration of Five Diamond establishments, with four restaurants and one hotel.

New Five Diamond Hotels (6):

Château du Sureau, Oakhurst, Calif.

Wynn Tower Suites, Las Vegas, Nev.

Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah

Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto, Canada

Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, Acapulco, Mexico

Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

New Five Diamond Restaurants (8):

The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.

Acadia, Chicago, Ill.

Grace Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.

Sixteen, Chicago, Ill.

Per Se, New York, N.Y.

Restaurant La Tanière, Québec, Canada

Restaurant Le Patriarche, Québec, Canada

Cocina de Autor, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

AAA inspectors collectively visit some 1,200 hotels and restaurants each week, allowing them to identify emerging trends in the industry. “At the ultra-luxury hotel level we’ve noted a move toward minimalism in design but not overall experience,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Tourism Information Development, “and an emphasis on privacy and intimacy with options like in-room fitness, private butler service and spa-like bathrooms. Guests enjoy highly personalized, learning-oriented experiences worthy of immediate sharing through digital channels.”

Inspectors have also observed a continuing evolution in the nature of fine dining. “Reservations are increasingly hard to get as formality is reduced in favor of greater creativity and attention to food sourcing,” said Petrone. “Innovative chefs handcraft artisanal menus featuring local, fresh and healthy ingredients. Increasingly educated guests focus more on the quality and origin of cuisine rather than complex presentations. A knowledgeable staff that can facilitate a memorable dining experience is paramount.”

“Attaining the Five Diamond rating is not an easy undertaking,” said Petrone. “Establishments at this level must consistently provide an unparalleled guest environment and experience.” Candidates for the rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations and a final decision by a panel of experts. Inspectors meticulously evaluate guest services and physical attributes, closely examining the level of competence, refinement and hospitality, from reservations to checkout for hotels and from seating to presentation for restaurants.

Noteworthy for 2014:

  • Chicago gained three Five Diamond restaurants: Acadia, Grace Restaurant and Sixteen, bringing its total to seven, on par with New York City.
  • California and New York each gained one Five Diamond restaurant, bringing their totals to eight and keeping them tied for states with the greatest number.
  • California and Quintana Roo, Mexico, were the only states to gain both a Five Diamond hotel and a Five Diamond restaurant.
  • Canada and Mexico both gained three Five Diamond establishments per country.
  • One hotel, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., has maintained the Five Diamond Rating for 38 consecutive years – since 1976 when AAA first introduced the Diamond Ratings for accommodations.
  • The restaurant with the longest consecutive Five Diamond tenure, 26 years, since 1988, is The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Va.

For more information about Diamond Ratings and the complete Five Diamond hotel and restaurant lists, visit AAA.com/Diamonds.

About AAA Inspections

For 78 years AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property inspections. AAA offers the only rating system using comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. With a far greater inventory than any other rating entity, AAA operates the only rating system covering the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA trip planning products: the eTourBook® guides and AAA Mobile® app for tablets and smartphones, the TripTik® Travel Planner and Travel Guides on AAA.com and AAA TourBook® guides available at AAA/CAA offices.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

 

Hotel Images

Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

Chateau du Sureau, Oakhurst, CA

Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah

Restaurant Images

Grace Restaurant, Chicago

Sixteen, Chicago

The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA

Heather HunterNearly 30 percent of Americans expected to take a trip this holiday season

ORLANDO, Fla., (Dec. 17, 2013)AAA projects 94.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of 0.6 percent from the 94 million people who traveled last year. This upward trend marks the fifth consecutive year of increases and the highest travel volume recorded for the season. The year-end holiday period is defined as Saturday, December 21 to Wednesday, January 1.

Highlights from this year’s 2013/2014 AAA Year-End Holidays Travel Forecast include:

  • Holiday travel to total 94.5 million, an increase of 0.6 percent from the 94 million who traveled last year.
  • Year-end holiday travel is expected to increase for the fifth consecutive year, reaching a new high since data has been collected by AAA.
  • Ninety-one percent of travelers or 85.8 million to travel by automobile, an increase of 0.9 percent.
  • Nearly 30 percent (29.7) of all Americans will take a trip this holiday, with more than one in four (27 percent) taking a road trip.
  • Holiday air travel is expected to decline slightly to 5.53 million travelers from 5.61 last year.
  • Median spending expected to increase slightly to $765, compared to $759 last year.

Additional Resources

“While economic growth has stagnated and consumer confidence has fallen Americans will not be Scrooges when it comes to traveling this year,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney. “AAA is projecting more Americans to travel than ever before to gather with friends and family, exchange presents and ring in the New Year.”

Only once in the past decade has there been a change in travel volume greater than five percent and that was a decline in 2007 as the recession was just getting started. “Of all the travel holidays, the year-end holiday season remains the least volatile as Americans will not let economic conditions dictate their travel plans to celebrate the holidays,” said Doney.

The overall economic picture remains in the stagnant state that has been present throughout the year. Following the October shutdown and the agreement to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling, the mood of the consumer remains cautious.  The unemployment rate has improved from one year ago, but overall employment levels remain low. Weak economic factors are reflected in all three major measures of consumer optimism which are now below year ago levels.

While key economic factors remain similar to the Thanksgiving period, the calendar is having a positive impact on travel. When the holiday falls on a Wednesday travelers have more flexibility with their travel plans and the option to start their trip earlier or extend through the following weekend. This calendar effect will help spur an increase in holiday travel this year.

With nine in ten holiday travelers driving to their destinations, AAA makes a timely appeal to everyone on the road to be extra diligent about the dangers of impaired driving particularly when holiday partygoers may risk getting behind the wheel after a festive evening.

According to the latest data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, one in five of all licensed drivers, that drink at least occasionally, reported having driven when they thought their alcohol level might have been close to, or possibly over, the legal limit in the past year.  The survey also reveals that 96 percent of drivers consider impaired driving to be unacceptable, with 50 percent reporting that drunk drivers are a bigger problem today versus three years ago.  “Despite the ubiquitous warnings about drinking and driving especially during the holiday season, alcohol-related crashes still represent one in three motor vehicle deaths,” said Doney.

AAA works year round to educate motorists about driving practices that will help keep them safe and reduce traffic-related crashes and the injuries that can result.  PreventDUI.AAA.com is an online resource offering impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.

AAA expects to rescue 3.76 million motorists during the holiday season

Between December 21 and January 1, AAA expects to come to the rescue of 3.76 million motorists with the primary reasons for breakdowns being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists check battery and tire condition and prepare vehicles for winter driving before heading out on a holiday getaway. Car care tips and information are available at AAA.com.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

Gas prices have climbed slightly from the multi-year low of $3.18 per gallon on November 12, but AAA expects most drivers will pay less than a year ago to fill up during the holiday season. Gas prices recently increased because of planned and unplanned maintenance at a number of refineries and seasonally stronger demand for gasoline. Prices should decline by the end of the year due to rising supplies and increased refinery production.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel decreases

Approximately 91 percent of travelers or 85.8 million people plan to travel by automobile during the year-end holidays. This is a 0.9 percent increase over the 85.1 million people who traveled by auto last year.  Air travel is expected to decrease 1.4 percent as 5.53 million holiday travelers will take to the skies.

Those traveling by air will find airfares slightly lower than last year according to AAA’s Leisure travel Index.  During Christmas week the average lowest round-trip rate is $199 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $204 last year. Approximately 3.13 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.

Hotel rates relatively flat, car rental rates increase 13 percent

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to average $138 per night compared to $142 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay an average cost of $102 per night, compared to $101 in 2012.  Weekend daily car rental rates will average $63, compared to $55 last year.

Average travel distance increases

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled is expected to be 805 miles, which is an increase of 45 miles from last year when travelers logged 760 miles.

Median spending increases slightly; visiting family, dining and shopping top activities

Median spending is expected to be $765 up from $759 last year. Visiting with friends and family (74 percent), Dining (70 percent) and shopping (51 percent) will be the most popular activities.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Members using the iPad version can access interactive Top Destinations travel guides for popular cities. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight Year-End Holidays 2013/2014 Travel Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather Hunter

ORLANDO, Fla., (Nov. 20, 2013)AAA projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million people who traveled last year. This decrease falls just shy of last Thanksgiving’s four-year peak since the recession-driven declines in 2008-2009 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 1.

Highlights from this year’s 2013 AAA Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast include:

  • Thanksgiving travelers to total 43.4 million, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million who traveled last year
  • Ninety percent of travelers or 38.9 million to travel by automobile, a decline of 1.6 percent
  • Median spending expected to drop nearly seven percent to $465, compared to $498 last year.
  • The Thanksgiving holiday is a less expensive holiday for travelers compared to other holidays. This year Labor Day spending was expected to be $804, Independence Day $749 and Memorial Day $659.
  • Holiday air travel to decline 3.7 percent to 3.14 million travelers from 3.26 million in 2012
  • Average distance traveled to increase to 601 miles from 588 miles.
  • The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be the busiest single day of travel with 37 percent of travelers departing for trips Nov. 27.

Additional Resources

“While the economy continues to improve, the sluggish pace of the recovery is creating uncertainty in the minds of some consumers and therefore AAA is projecting a slight decline in the number of Thanksgiving travelers this year,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney.  “For those traveling the good news is motorists will receive a holiday bonus in the form of lower gas prices which are at their lowest levels for the holiday since 2010.”

“The primary focus of Thanksgiving, more so than any other holiday, is to gather with friends, family and loved ones and celebrate with each other. Travelers attempting to carve out a travel budget will be happy to know that Thanksgiving will be the least expensive holiday of the year,” continued Doney.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

AAA estimates that most drivers will pay the cheapest gas prices for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2010. The national average is at the cheapest level of the year and should continue to drop in the weeks ahead. Drivers can find stations selling gas for less than $3.00 per gallon in the vast majority of states. The decreased cost of gas will provide consumers with real savings that could be used for other purposes on the trip.

Wednesday before the holiday will be busiest travel day

The Thanksgiving holiday is unique falling on a Thursday every year. Many people are off from work the Friday after; giving travelers more time to spend with family and friends.   AAA asked intended travelers which days they would depart for and return from Thanksgiving travel. Among those surveyed, the highest volumes of travelers plan to leave for their trip the Wednesday before the holiday (37 percent) and return the following Sunday (33 percent) with another 24 percent expecting to return on Monday, Dec 2 or later.

Automobile travel remains dominant mode of transportation, air travel decreases

Approximately 90 percent of travelers or 38.9 million people plan to travel by automobile this Thanksgiving. This is a 1.6 percent decrease over the 39.5 million people who traveled by auto last year.  Air travel is expected to decrease 3.7 percent as 3.14 million holiday travelers will take to the skies.

Those traveling by air will find airfares comparable to last year according to AAA’s Leisure travel Index.  For the Thanksgiving holiday the average lowest round-trip rate is $187 for the top 40 U.S. air routes compared to $188 last year. Approximately 1.4 million travelers will choose other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and cruise ship.

Hotel rates relatively flat, car rental rates increase six percent

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, Thanksgiving holiday hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to average $142 per night compared to $143 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay an average cost of $105 per night, compared to $104 in 2012.  Weekend daily car rental rates will average $50, compared to $47 last year.

Average travel distance increases

According to the survey of intended travelers, the average distance traveled by Americans during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is expected to be 601 miles, which is an increase of 2.2 percent from last year when travelers planned to log 588 miles.

Median spending down almost seven percent; visiting family, dining and shopping top activities

Median spending is expected to be $465, a 6.6 percent decrease compared to the expected median spending of intended holiday travelers ($498) in 2012.

While spending time with friends and relatives and dining are primary activities for nearly all holidays, it is even more relevant for Thanksgiving travelers. Therefore it is not surprising that spending time with family and friends (67 percent) and dining (56 percent) are the most popular activities planned by travelers. Despite lower median spending, nearly half of all travelers (44 percent) plan to shop during the holiday which can be expected given Black Friday occurs during the holiday weekend.

AAA offers digital travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning ‘on the go’ include eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, regions, like Wine Country, and National Parks.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Members using the iPad version can access interactive Top Destinations travel guides for popular cities. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight Labor Day 2013 Forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather Hunter(HEATHROW, FL, November 19, 2013) As millions of Americans prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones, AAA reminds motorists to take the following safety precautions as the holiday season kicks off: drive only while drug and alcohol-free, select a designated driver for the evening, plan to take a cab or stay with a friend.

AAA works year round to educate motorists about driving practices that will help keep them safe and reduce traffic-related crashes and the injuries that can result. PreventDUI.AAA.com is an online resource offering impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.  Once there, AAA encourages visitors to Take the Pledge to drive drug and alcohol-free.

While not a nationwide program, a number of AAA clubs offer safe ride services on select dates for members and nonmembers. This service is not available everywhere. AAA strongly encourages motorists to pick a designated driver before they head out for any Thanksgiving celebrations.

*Please note availability is subject to change without notice.

AAA Clubs Currently Offering a Safe Ride Program for Thanksgiving (November 28)

Towing Programs:

  • The Auto Club Group (Statewide in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Program is called “Tow-to-Go”, available)
  • AAA South Dakota (Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Mitchell and Yankton)
  • AAA Oklahoma (Metro Tulsa, Metro Oklahoma City, Shawnee, Bartlesville, Enid, Muskogee, Tahlequah, Ardmore and Lawton)
  • AAA Northern California (in all club territories)
  • AAA Nevada (Statewide)
  • AAA Utah (Statewide)
  • AAA Arizona (Statewide/program runs Nov. 27 6 p.m.- 6 a.m., Nov 28)
  • AAA Tidewater (Greater Hampton Roads area : Cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, Yorktown and Williamsburg, VA)
  • AAA Northwest Ohio (available in Lucas, Fulton, Wood, Henry, Williams, Defiance, Paulding and Ottawa counties/ Nov. 27-28, 6 p.m.- 6 a.m. )

Taxi Ride Programs:

  • AAA Allied Group in Ohio has a program called “ArriveSafe”. It provides cab rides for Montgomery County residents only.  AAA has no call center involvement- local motorists must dial 449-9999.

For a comprehensive list of other community programs listed state by state, please visit AAA’s DUI Justice Link Website.

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