Archive for the ‘Diamond Ratings’ Category

Julie HallORLANDO, Fla. (April 21, 2016) – As families across the country eagerly await the end of school and the beginning of summer, millions of Americans are making plans to travel with loved ones this year. According to a recent AAA survey, more than one-third of Americans (35 percent) are planning to take a family vacation of 50 miles or more away from home involving two or more immediate family members in the next 12 months.

AAA estimates that U.S. drivers have saved nearly $12 billion on gas so far this year compared to the same period in 2015, and drivers this summer should pay the lowest gas prices in 12 years. These lower gas prices have helped motivate Americans to drive at record levels, and prompted many families to take road trips this year. Fifty-five percent of Americans say they are more likely to take a road trip this year due to lower gas prices.

Additional Resources

Road trips (69 percent), national parks (49 percent) and theme parks (42 percent) are the most popular types of vacations for families planning to travel in the next year. Vacations to international destinations (26 percent) and cruises (19 percent) round out the top five most popular vacation options for traveling families.

“Two-thirds of Americans say spending quality time as a family is the most important part of taking a family vacation,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing. “Whether it’s a cross-country road trip or a dream vacation to a far-off destination, travel offers busy families an excellent opportunity to share experiences and connect with each other in meaningful ways.”

AAA Travel experts offer tips for families planning vacations this year:

  • Road Trips: AAA recommends travelers map out a route in advance to make the most of their road trip. Drivers should plan frequent stops, about every 100 miles or two hours, to remain alert. Tools such as AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner, in desktop and app versions, can help families find AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants, gas prices and plan fun stops along the way.
  • National Parks: The National Park Service celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2016, making it a great year for travelers to discover the parks. The most popular national parks, such as Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon and Yosemite, may reach capacity during peak travel times, so plan ahead. For families traveling on a budget, national parks are waiving entrance fees this year April 16-24, Aug. 25-28, Sept. 24 and Nov. 11.
  • Theme Parks: Theme parks in Orlando and Southern California are expected to continue growing in popularity with families this summer, as new attractions debut at theme parks coast-to-coast. For families with flexible travel schedules, early May and September are great times to visit theme parks, when travelers can experience lighter crowds and shorter lines.
  • International Vacations: Favorable exchange rates and discounted pricing are helping many families plan trips to international destinations this year. The current strength of the dollar makes international travel especially affordable right now and Americans will get more for their money when visiting destinations around the world.
  • Cruises: Cruises offer a variety of activities for all ages, plus children’s programs that give parents a chance to relax and unwind. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) forecasts 24 million vacationers will cruise the world’s waterways in 2016, one million more than last year. Experienced travel agents can help first-time cruisers identify the cruise line, ship and itinerary that best suits their family.

AAA’s professional hotel inspectors, who evaluate nearly 28,000 hotels across North America using detailed, published guidelines, have identified a few of their top picks for family-friendly Diamond Rated hotels:

Beaches Negril Resort & Spa, Negril, Jamaica – Three Diamond

AAA Inspector Notes: Marvelous for both families and adults, this lovely all-inclusive is well laid out with an amazing water park offering refreshing fun for all ages. There is an Xbox play lounge, sailing lessons for children and adults and a comprehensive kid’s camp area for all ages.

Great Wolf Lodge, Centralia, Wash. – Three Diamond

AAA Inspector Notes: From splashing in the water park, gaming in the arcade, playing a game of checkers in the lobby, to any number of other seasonal adventures, this hotel is a fantastic place for the entire family. A nice selection of guest rooms is available, including some with bunk beds and a popular kids’ cabin.

LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Winter Haven, Fla. – Three Diamond

AAA Inspector Notes: Geared toward children, this LEGOLAND resort features pirate, adventure and kingdom themed rooms. Kids have a bunk bed area while adults can relax in their own space. Set on Lake Eloise, there are boardwalks with views of wildlife, a fire pit to relax beside at night, a LEGO club room with movies, a splash pad by the expansive swimming pool and even a Master LEGO builder’s workshop with classes.

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, East Harwich, Mass. – Four Diamond

AAA Inspector Notes: This waterfront resort is the perfect family-friendly destination, with an outdoor amphitheater and a pirate-themed interactive water playground with treasure chests, fountains and a pirate ship with slides and swinging ropes. The high-tech children’s center features a 135-inch HD screen for Wii, PlayStation and Xbox gaming. Activities include dive-in movies, teen gaming nights and lessons in swimming, sailing and tennis. An ice cream truck with complimentary treats makes special appearances throughout the property in summer.

Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa, Gatlinburg, Tenn. – Three Diamond

AAA Inspector Notes: The resort features cabin-style duplexes, plus condos that can be expanded via connecting doors, perfect for large families. Many units have fireplaces and whirlpool tubs. Family-friendly facilities include an infinity pool and nature trails that lead from the property into the densely wooded forest of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Before setting out on a family vacation, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants, request AAA roadside assistance and more. For in-person travel planning, seek the expert advice of a trusted travel advisor, who can provide personalized service and first-hand destination knowledge to create a memorable family vacation. For more information and to begin planning a vacation, visit AAA.com/Travel.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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About AAA’s Family Travel Survey

This report presents the findings of a telephone survey administered as part of global market research company ORC International’s weekly CARAVAN® omnibus surveys conducted among two national probability samples (landline only and cell phone), which, when combined, consists of 1,002 adults living in the continental United States. Interviewing was conducted March 17-20, 2016. This study has an average statistical error of ±3.6% at the 95% confidence level for US adults. That means there is a 95% chance that the results found in this study are within ±3.6% of the results that would be found if all US adults living in private households in the continental United States were interviewed using the research methodology and questionnaire used in this study. The actual statistical error depends on the number of respondents to each question and on the observed proportions.

Julie HallEvolving dining trends influence update to Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines used by AAA inspectors

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 30, 2016) – AAA recently updated its restaurant Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines, the blueprint AAA inspectors use to evaluate 30,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated restaurants throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The guidelines, last updated in 2009, reflect changing industry trends, incorporating input from AAA’s hotel and restaurant inspectors, AAA members and industry professionals.

As an example of change reflected in the revised guidelines, AAA’s Director of Content Development Michael Petrone cites growing consumer interest in food-related components of the dining experience. “Diners are more educated than ever before about food trends, preparation styles and ingredient sourcing. They are eager to interact with knowledgeable wait staff and culinary experts, learning how dishes are prepared and where ingredients originate. As the focus continues to shift in this direction, formalities such as opulent décor and place settings are becoming less important.” In response to this shift and feedback gathered from AAA members, food-related attributes now account for 50 percent of a restaurant’s Diamond Rating.

Periodic adjustments to the guidelines are also prompted by a trickle-down effect, as offerings previously specific to higher-rated restaurants have become more prevalent. For example, chef’s tasting menus and suggested food and beverage pairings are now introduced at the Three and Four Diamond Rating levels. Menu ingredients are evolving as well, increasing access to once-rare items such as farm-branded products, ancient grains, locally sourced ingredients and artisan creations.

As the restaurant industry continues to change, AAA inspectors continually note the newest dining and hospitality trends. The industry’s most talented chefs, for example, are expanding beyond the fine-dining world to spearhead new fast-casual chains, a domain typically reserved for fast-food restaurants. Now consumers can find numerous gastropubs and micro-distilleries serving high-quality food, healthfully prepared vegetables and small portions for sharing. With improved mobile options for reservations, ordering and payment, technology is also gaining an increasing presence in the food service experience.

“The updated guidelines reinforce AAA’s longstanding pledge to provide our members with reliable travel information through on-site inspections and accurate ratings for the restaurants we approve,” said Petrone.  “We regularly evaluate and update the guidelines to ensure they remain accurate and relevant to the travel and dining needs of AAA’s more than 56 million members.”

The assignment of a rating of One to Five Diamonds marks the completion of a successful on-site evaluation by a professional AAA inspector. The first step is to meet the basic cleanliness, comfort and hospitality requirements to become AAA Approved. Consumers can find Diamond Rated restaurants in the free AAA Mobile app, online TripTik Travel Planner and regional TourBook guides available at AAA offices.

About AAA Inspections

For 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. 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’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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Julie HallLeading-edge restaurants impress knowledgeable guests with innovative menus and enticing surroundings

ORLANDO, Fla. (February 5, 2016) – Just in time for Valentine’s Day celebrations, AAA has unveiled 64 restaurants that have earned the AAA/CAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for the 2016 Five Diamond Award® list. This exclusive group represents just 0.2 percent of the more than 30,000 AAA/CAA Approved and Diamond Rated restaurants. Following rigorous evaluations from AAA’s professional inspectors, the following three restaurants were added as first-time Five Diamond honorees.

Additional Resources

Gabriel Kreuther – New York, N.Y.

AAA Inspector Notes: Chef Gabriel Kreuther leads this modern, yet sophisticated fine-dining restaurant.

A diverse menu that leans on Kreuther’s French-Germanic roots includes a signature sturgeon sauerkraut tart, foie gras terrine and langoustine tartare. Even basic items such as Kugelhoph bread with soft white cheese and chives are astonishing. Much more than a meal, a visit here is a full-blown sensory event full of unexpected twists and turns. The experience provides a kind of culinary magic many aim to achieve, but few accomplish. Passion and artistry are displayed from start to finish.

TÈ – Leola, Pa.

AAA Inspector Notes: This one-of-a-kind dining experience is truly divine. Guests choose from either a five- or nine-course prix fixe menu of inspiring Italian cuisine. Extras that further enhance the experience include a selection of artisanal cheeses from a roving cart, expert wine pairings and multiple chef accoutrements between courses. A highly refined staff pampers guests and assists with their every need while artfully timing each delectable dish for a relaxing and memorable meal.

The Georgian Room – Sea Island, Ga.

AAA Inspector Notes: Diners should prepare for an experience like none other when stepping through the doors of The Georgian Room. Gorgeous antique gold and crystal chandeliers, grand molded stone columns, majestic arches and a stately fireplace create an impressive backdrop for the equally magnificent menu. A highly trained staff provides unparalleled tableside service and impressive knowledge of New Southern cuisine and world-class wine. The menu changes seasonally and offers freshly sourced wellness selections such as milk-poached organic hen breast with mushroom porridge and farm egg. Save room for the decadent crème brûlée bread pudding soufflé, one of the restaurant’s highly touted dessert offerings.

Collectively visiting more than 1,100 hotels and restaurants weekly, AAA inspectors have an unmatched opportunity to observe emerging dining trends. “Contemporary restaurant enthusiasts are more educated than ever about food trends, preparation techniques and ingredient sourcing, and less interested in formalities such as proper attire and opulent décor. This raises the bar for today’s top chefs who attempt to achieve perfection with each offering. Diners want to learn about unfamiliar ingredients, discuss their selections with wait staff and interact with culinary experts through tastings, tours and chef’s table dining experiences,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “At the Five Diamond level, one can expect a broad sensory-based experience including flavor, visual appeal, aroma and texture along with personalized service and ambient, ultra-comfortable surroundings designed to engage and impress even the most experienced patron.”

Of note among the new additions is Georgia’s only Five Diamond hotel and restaurant pairing. Sea Island’s The Georgian Room is located in The Cloister, a new Five Diamond hotel honoree for 2016. The addition of TÈ in Leola marks Pennsylvania’s second Five Diamond restaurant. Additionally, The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Va., remains the longest tenured Five Diamond restaurant, the only one to maintain the coveted status for 28 consecutive years, since 1988.

“Attaining the Five Diamond Rating is an impressive accomplishment and a point of great pride for these top restaurants,” said Petrone. “Five Diamond establishments stand apart by redefining personalized service, using creativity to enhance guest comfort and provide memorable experiences.” Candidates for the rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations and a final decision by a panel of experts. Using guidelines weighted by member priorities, inspectors meticulously evaluate food quality, guest services and physical attributes to assess the level of competence, refinement and hospitality and assign a rating of One to Five Diamonds.

For more information about Diamond Ratings and the complete lists of Four and Five Diamond restaurants, visit AAA.com/Diamonds.

About AAA Inspections

For 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. 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’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile® app, the online  TripTik® Travel Planner mapping and routing tool, searchable online Travel Guides and AAA TourBook® guides available to members at AAA/CAA offices.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

Restaurant Images

Gabriel Kreuther

(Photo Credit: Paul Wagtouicz)

GABRIEL KREUTHER sturgeon and sauerkraut tart GABRIEL KREUTHER langoustine tartar GABRIEL KREUTHER interior

TE

(Photo Credit: Preston Sean Photography)

TE_night shot TE_baby octopus

The Georgian Room

(Photo Credit: Sea Island)

The Georgian Room_interior2 The Georgian Room_interior1

The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room

(Photo Credit: Gordon Beall)

The Inn at LW Dining Room_kitchen The Inn at LW Dining Room_interior

 

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Julie HallUltra-luxury accommodations use creativity and technological conveniences to deliver one-of-a-kind services and amenities

Additional Resources

ORLANDO, Fla. (January 15, 2016) – AAA has unveiled 118 hotels that have earned the AAA/CAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for the 2016 Five Diamond Award® list. This exclusive group represents just 0.4 percent of the nearly 28,000 AAA/CAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels. Following rigorous evaluations from AAA’s professional inspectors, the following six hotels were added as first-time Five Diamond honorees.

Hotel Mousai – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

AAA Inspector Notes: This chic hotel, exclusively for adults, offers the ultimate in contemporary design in its rooms and public areas. Distinctive personal attention includes a mid-day “siesta” hammock service. Using an iPad to control the electric curtains, guests enjoy stunning hilltop views that offer both jungle and seaside vistas. Exclusive amenities include a rooftop pool, world-class spa and a gym with yoga room and resident DJ.

Park Hyatt New York – New York, N.Y.

AAA Inspector Notes: An ultra-refined, modernist style greets guests at this gleaming glass jewel in the center of Midtown. The spacious rooms feature a custom designed beverage center and a media hub integrated with curated art and designer furnishings, complemented by fine linens, aromatic scents and an oversized soaking tub. Facilities include an indoor pool and state-of-the-art 1,845-square-foot fitness center. This pet-friendly property donates all pet fees to animal charities.

St. Regis Deer Valley – Park City, Utah

AAA Inspector Notes: Located on a ski run with true slope-side ski-in/ski-out access, the guest experience begins with a peaceful funicular tram ride up the mountain, offering stunning picture-postcard views. The luxurious lobby, split-level infinity pool and convenient ski beach for downhill rest breaks invite total relaxation. The rooms, baths and one- to four-bedroom condominiums are luxuriously appointed. Refreshments include a daily afternoon iced tea social, nightly s’mores for the kids and a dramatic evening Champagne sabering for adults by the fire pits.

The Cloister – Sea Island, Ga.

AAA Inspector Notes: This exclusive luxury resort features five miles of private beach, championship sports and recreation, lush gardens and a seaside spa. Rooms are large, luxurious and uniquely designed. Relax in an overstuffed chair and treat your feet to the caress of handmade Turkish rugs after a full day of boating, tennis, squash or your favorite beach activity.

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain – Marana, Ariz.

AAA Inspector Notes: Nestled into the Tortolita Mountains, this elegant resort features rooms with expansive views and luxurious baths as well as world-class golf facilities. Influenced by the traditions of the Sonoran desert, the spa features ancient curative rituals and eco-holistic therapies, a treat for guests who wish to be pampered. Enjoy an indoor-outdoor fitness center, complete with a private fireplace and courtyard, and mountain-view serenity pool terrace surrounded by ancient Native American carvings in nearby rocks.

Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto – Toronto, Ontario

AAA Inspector Notes: Set in the heart of the city’s financial district, this stunning showpiece soars high in the sky. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer guests remarkable city views. Luxury is standard as each room features Bellino fine linens with an extensive pillow menu, a European-style wet bar with a Nespresso machine and a stone-finished bathroom with a deep soaking tub, rain shower and in-mirror TV. Business features include personalized stationery, business cards, and an in-room fax machine and computer, on request.

AAA inspectors have an unmatched first-person, on-site view of emerging hospitality trends. “At the Five Diamond level, we’re seeing hotels using new technology to expand the scope and depth of the traditional hallmarks of ultra-luxury accommodations: indulgent pampering and highly personalized service,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “For example, using virtual touchpoints such as text messaging, social media and apps, hotels reach out to guests before, during and after their stay. These tools allow guests to interact at their own convenience to further personalize their stay. They can reserve special services like in-room spa treatments, check in and out, maintain their guest folios and share experiences and photos with other travelers.”

Of note among the new additions to the list are three properties that are the only Five Diamond hotels in exclusive destination areas: Marana, Ariz.; Sea Island, Ga. and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. New York City and Toronto continue to add ultra-luxury accommodations, gaining their ninth and fourth Five Diamond hotels, respectively. Additionally, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., remains the only hotel that has maintained the Five Diamond Rating for 40 consecutive years – since 1976 when AAA first introduced the Diamond Ratings for accommodations.

“Attaining the Five Diamond Rating is an impressive accomplishment and a point of great pride for these top hotels,” said Petrone. “Five Diamond establishments stand apart by redefining personalized service, using creativity to enhance guest comfort and providing memorable experiences.” Candidates for the rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations and a final decision by a panel of experts. Using guidelines weighted by member priorities, inspectors meticulously evaluate guest services and physical attributes to assess the level of competence, refinement and hospitality and assign a corresponding rating of One to Five Diamonds.

For more information about Diamond Ratings and the complete lists of Four and Five Diamond hotels, visit AAA.com/Diamonds.

About AAA Inspections

For 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. 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’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile® app, the online  TripTik® Travel Planner mapping and routing tool, searchable online Travel Guides and AAA TourBook® guides available to members at AAA/CAA offices.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 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.

Images provided for media download and use with the above release.
Additional photos available upon request.

 

Hotel Images

Hotel Mousai – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

(Photo Credit: Hotel Mousai)
Hotel-Mousai_therooftop-arcos Hotel-Mousai_suite Hotel-Mousai_suite-balcony

Park Hyatt New York – New York, N.Y.

(Photo Credit: Park Hyatt New York)
Park-Hyatt-New-York_pool_August  

St. Regis Deer Valley – Park City, Utah

(Photo Credit: The St. Regis Deer Valley)
St-Regis-Deer-Valley_outside-pool St-Regis-Deer-Valley_lobby St-Regis-Deer-Valley_luxury-suite-living-room

The Cloister – Sea Island, Ga.

(Photo Credit: Sea Island)
The-Cloister_suite-w-balcony The-Cloister_Black-Banks-Terrace-from-dock 

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain – Marana, Ariz.

(Photo Credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain)
The-Ritz-Carlton-Dove-Mountain_suite The-Ritz-Carlton-Dove-Mountain_lobby The-Ritz-Carlton-Dove-Mountain_spa-pool

Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto – Toronto, Ontario

(Photo Credit: Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto)
Trump-International-Hotel-and-Tower-Toronto_Huber Trump-International-Hotel-and-Tower_Huber-Grand-Foyer Trump-International-Hotel-and-Tower-Toronto_bath

The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.

(Photo Credit: The Broadmoor)
The Broadmoor The-Broadmoor_aerial 

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JulieHallUltra-luxury establishments redefine personalized service with new technology and custom experiences

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 16, 2015) – AAA has unveiled 121 hotels and 63 restaurants that have earned the AAA/CAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for the 2015 Five Diamond Award lists. This exclusive group represents just 0.3 percent of the more than 58,000 AAA/CAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants.

Additional Resources

AAA inspectors collectively visit approximately 1,200 hotels and restaurants each week, allowing them to identify emerging trends in the industry. “At the ultra-luxury level we’re seeing an increasing number of hotels offering guests the choice of high-end service by white glove or touch screen — in person or electronically,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings. “They’re complementing personal delivery with technology options such as in-room iPads and TV menus for ordering and scheduling services, apps for accessing newspapers and local reservations, mobile check-in and text alerts when their room is ready. Some Five Diamond hotels even place a TV within the bathroom mirror to complete guests’ high-tech stay.”

Of note among the new additions to the 2015 list is the Orlando area’s only Five Diamond hotel, the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, marked by numerous upscale service options. Each room is equipped with an iPad that serves as the radio, resort map, event guide and newspaper, as well as a Bose Bluetooth speaker system and high-tech keypads that control lighting, air temperature and even guests’ request for privacy. For additional custom luxury, guests can create their own fragrance at the spa’s Aroma Design Bar. At the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto, the guest room drapes, bedside lighting and air-conditioning system are all electronically controlled by the guest. In-room iPads are available to order room service, call housekeeping or contact the 24-hour concierge.

The best high-end restaurants are fast becoming international destinations by providing a unique dining experience in which the selection and enjoyment of exceptional food is also an educational event. Typically, Five Diamond restaurants are ahead of trends in farm-to-table and super-local food sourcing.  Directed by artistic whims, the chef creates solid, lifelong relationships with farmers, purveyors and producers who can deliver the finest ingredients, whether it’s coffee, olive oil or artisan cheeses.

At the Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Va., for example, AAA’s longest tenured Five Diamond restaurant, Chef Patrick O’Connell uses as many local ingredients and foods as possible, along with bounty from his own garden, applying masterful techniques to create captivating results. At Eleven Madison Park in New York City, diners are invited to build their dinner around specific ingredients instead of predetermined recipes. But it’s the service experience that shines brightest as guests are pampered in a manner that is intimate yet relaxed. With personalized service or surprising insight, each staff member adds a special touch to the guest’s dining experience, creating a powerful, memorable event.

New Five Diamond Hotels (8):

Four Seasons Hotel Denver – Denver, Colo.
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort – Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Grand Luxxe – Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
One&Only Palmilla – San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico
Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa – Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Shangri-La Hotel – Toronto, Ontario
The Langham, Chicago – Chicago, Ill.
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman – Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands

New Five Diamond Restaurants (6):

Le Chique – Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Orchids at Palm Court – Cincinnati, Ohio
Palme d’Or – Coral Gables, Fla.
Passion by Martin Berasategui – Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Saison – San Francisco, Calif.
Twist – Las Vegas, Nev.

“Attaining the Five Diamond Rating is an impressive accomplishment and a point of great pride for these top hotels and restaurants,” said Petrone. “Five Diamond establishments stand apart by redefining personalized service, using creativity to enhance guest comfort and providing memorable experiences.” 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.

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

About AAA Inspections

For 79 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’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA trip planning products: the AAA Mobile® app for tablets and smartphones, the desktop and mobile versions of the TripTik® Travel Planner  online mapping and routing tool, searchable Travel Guides on AAA.com and AAA TourBook® guides available to members 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.

 

Images provided for media download and use with the above release.
Additional photos available upon request.

 

Hotel Images

Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa – Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

 

Four Seasons Hotel Denver – Denver, Colo.

 

Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort – Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

 

The Langham, Chicago – Chicago, Ill.

 

Shangri-La Hotel – Toronto, Ontario

 

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman – Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands

 

One&Only Palmilla – San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico

 

Grand Luxxe – Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

 

Restaurant Images

Saison – San Francisco, Calif.

 

Palme d’Or – Coral Gables, Fla.

 

Twist – Las Vegas, Nev.

 

Orchids at Palm Court – Cincinnati, Ohio

 

Passion by Martin Berasategui – Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

 

Le Chique – Puerto Morelos, Mexico

JulieHallOnly 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

A total of 125 luxurious hotels and 53 world-class restaurants across North America begin the new year with the travel authority’s highest property rating

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 18, 2013) – AAA announced today the 178 select establishments that earned the AAA/CAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for the 2013 Five Diamond Award® list. Representing just 0.3 percent of the total 59,000 AAA/CAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants, this exclusive group provides unique experiences chock full of leading-edge creativity and highly personalized hospitality to satisfy even the most savvy traveler.

Of note among the 13 new additions are the only AAA Five Diamond hotels in Puerto Rico and Nevis. New York and Florida each added three new Five Diamond establishments: New York added one hotel and two restaurants, while Florida added two hotels and one restaurant. Florida’s additions include the only new Five Diamond pair: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and its on-site restaurant, Salt.

 

Additional Resources

New Five Diamond Hotels (9):

Montage Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach, Calif.

St. Regis Bal Harbour, Bal Harbour, Fla.

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Fla.

Trump SoHo New York, New York, N.Y.

Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The Ritz-Carlton Montréal, Québec, Canada

Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies, Charlestown, Nevis

St. Regis Bahia Beach Puerto Rico, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

Capella Pedregal Resort and Spa, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

 

New Five Diamond Restaurants (4):

Benu, San Francisco, Calif.

Salt (in The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island), Fernandina Beach, Fla.

Eleven Madison Park, New York, N.Y.

Le Bernardin, New York, N.Y.

 

“AAA Five Diamond hotels offer guests a meticulous degree of personalized attention and extensive amenities in a luxurious setting, and Five Diamond restaurants feature world-class service and imaginative menus using the finest ingredients,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Tourism Information Development.  “These establishments consistently exceed the expectations of the most discriminating traveler – the AAA inspector — and AAA is pleased to recognize them with a Five Diamond Rating.”

Collectively visiting some 1,200 hotels and restaurants every week, AAA inspectors are in a unique position to identify emerging trends in the hospitality industry. Inspectors have observed hotels and restaurants using increasingly personalized approaches to enhance guest comfort and satisfaction. “The definition of Five Diamond luxury continues to evolve as guests seek unique experiences with intrinsic value,” said Petrone.

Experienced, highly qualified staff are required to provide the custom service today’s luxury hotel guest expects. Larger hotels, faced with the difficulties of responding to individual needs, often restructure their approach. Many use the immediacy of social media to augment the experience as luxury travelers research, purchase, engage in and reflect on their stay. Imagine tweeting your desire for a rare vintage wine and having it arrive moments later at your guestroom door.

Restaurants employ an artisanal touch to provide an individualized culinary experience in a non-obtrusive manner. Menu offerings, once complex and highly orchestrated, are now often simple concepts meticulously executed. Meals and beverages are handcrafted using seasonal, organic ingredients from local sources. Distilled or flavored ice may be one of several original effects added to an already enchanting homemade cocktail mix.

The path to a Five Diamond Rating is rigorous. Properties identified by AAA as potential candidates for the Five Diamond Rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations by a AAA inspector and final decision by a panel of experts. In addition to the evaluation of physical attributes, potential Five Diamond establishments are subject to thorough onsite assessments of all guest services from the initial reservation through checkout for hotels and from seating to  presentation for restaurants. Each area is evaluated based on level of competence, refinement and hospitality.

 

Noteworthy for 2013:

  • The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the only hotel that has maintained the Five Diamond Rating for 37 consecutive years – since 1976 when AAA first introduced the Diamond Ratings for accommodations.
  • The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Va., has the longest Five Diamond restaurant tenure, 25 consecutive years, since 1988.
  • With two restaurant additions, Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernardin, New York now ties with California for the most AAA Five Diamond Restaurants: seven in each state.
  • The only new AAA Five Diamond hotel and restaurant pair is The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and its on-site restaurant Salt, in Fernandina Beach, Fla.
  • The number of Five Diamond hotels in Canada doubled to four with the addition of the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver and The Ritz-Carlton Montréal. The country is also home to five Five Diamond Restaurants, representing nearly 10 percent of the total.

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

 

About AAA Inspections

AAA is the only rating system that conducts on-site professional evaluations guided by member priorities. And, with more properties than any other rating entity, AAA is the only rating system that covers the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. For 77 years AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property inspections and publish the results, on a system of One to Five Diamonds, to guide member travel decisions.

Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants are listed 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. Travelers can learn about AAA inspections and Diamond Ratings at AAA.com/Diamonds.

 

The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colo.
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Montage Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach, Calif.
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The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach, Fla.
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Trump SoHo New York, New York, N.Y.
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Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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The Ritz-Carlton Montréal, Québec, Canada
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Capella Pedregal Resort and Spa, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
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Benu, San Francisco, Calif.
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Salt (in The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island), Fernandina Beach, Fla.
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Eleven Madison Park, New York, N.Y.
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Le Bernardin, New York, N.Y.

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Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies, Charlestown, Nevis
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Evolving travel and hotel trends spur revisions to Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines used by AAA hotel inspectors

ORLANDO, Fla., (July 31, 2012) – The voice of the consumer just got louder during the only comprehensive North American hotel inspections and ratings performed by experts.

AAA has updated its Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines for lodgings, the blueprint for assigning ratings of One to Five AAA Diamonds following successful on-site inspections at more than 30,000 hotels throughout North America. The new guidelines incorporate member expectations regarding hotel fees, recognize emerging shifts in design trends and reflect a more personalized approach to enhancing guest comfort and satisfaction.

“Traveler expectations and travel industry capabilities continue to evolve,” said Michael Petrone, director AAA Tourism Information Development. The new guidelines address changes that have occurred since the last update in 2007. With input from AAA’s full-time hotel inspectors, AAA members and industry professionals, the updated guidelines reflect current AAA member expectations and travel trends.

AAA Diamonds: Expert Ratings Guided by Member Priorities

“The biggest changes reflected in this update were prompted by AAA member feedback,” said Petrone. “In a time when travelers are challenged to manage costs amid changing gasoline prices and airline add-ons, members are fed up with hidden hotel costs. For example, charges are sometimes assessed for an in-room safe, on-site fitness center or pool — whether the guest uses them or not. Members want all-inclusive, published room rates with no surprises at checkout.

“Additionally, today’s family often travels with four or five electronic devices and can face dramatic increases in accommodation costs when properties charge daily Wi-Fi usage fees. The growing expectation is for in-room Internet access that is both high-speed and free,” added Petrone.

Now, as part of the travel information collection process, properties charging resort and Wi-Fi fees will receive points off their evaluation score, which could impact their overall rating. To facilitate member decision making, AAA’s digital and printed hotel listings will indicate if a resort fee is charged, and Wi-Fi reporting will shift from on-site availability to in-room availability and fees.

Another changing trend is increased focus on property exclusivity. The new guidelines continue to emphasize guest comfort and satisfaction while recognizing greater flexibility and differentiation in how hotels achieve this goal. For example, while improved bedding may have similarities across properties, approaches to enhanced décor may be wide ranging. Hotels may incorporate self-serve, playful or artistic elements such as check-in kiosks, interactive touch screens, digital signage, mood lighting or fragrances in social areas. At the higher rating levels, service standards have been updated to include a more creative approach to the personalized guest experience.

AAA inspectors have also noted growing member expectations for more amenities at lower rating levels, particularly in regard to technology. Examples include flat-screen televisions, portable device docking stations and jack packs that allow transmission of digital information on TVs. Other preferences growing in prevalence include sustainable design features, products and eco-friendly services. Relevant changes for each market segment are noted in the revised guidelines and will be reflected in the on-site evaluation report inspectors provide to all properties.

The AAA Diamond Rating Guidelines are updated as industry standards and member demand dictate and will continue to be a mirror of the most recent hospitality trends. View the new AAA Approval Requirements & Diamond Rating Guidelines for lodgings, available to properties on the AAA.biz/Approved website.

AAA Inspectors: On-Site and In the Know

AAA’s professional inspectors get an in-depth, inside view of every AAA Approved property. They strive to avoid any treatment or services not extended to every guest to experience properties the same way members do, supplementing this view with a broad knowledge of the larger marketplace. “This comprehensive, real-time expertise sets AAA’s hotel ratings apart from any other source,” said Petrone.

“Because AAA inspectors are fully immersed in the industry, across all segments and markets, on a daily basis, they’re in an ideal position to observe industry trends as they emerge. Seen in isolation, for example, vivid design colors, open room designs that incorporate the bathroom or an infusion of natural lighting may appear unique; seen across multiple segments or geographic areas, these attributes may well be trends that prompt the next guidelines update,” explains Petrone.

Since 2007, other design trends noted by the inspectors and reflected in the revised guidelines include open and active lobby areas, dramatic headboards, wood and laminate flooring options and the increased use of glass, marble and stone. Amenities incorporate sustainable and allergy-free products and expanded fitness options. Technology trends include easy-to-use alarm clocks, single-use coffee makers and power stations for gadgets and devices.

About AAA Inspections

AAA rates more properties than any other rating entity and is the only rating system that covers the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. It is the only comprehensive on-site inspection program of its kind, using published guidelines to evaluate, Approve and rate lodgings and restaurants on a scale of One to Five Diamonds. For 76 years AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property inspections and publish the results for member travelers.

Listings of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants can be accessed in the downloadable eTourBook guides at AAA.com/ebooks, online at AAA.com/Travel and in the TourBook guides available at AAA and CAA offices. Travelers with smartphones can access Diamond Rated property listings using AAA’s free app or AAA Mobile Web, at AAA.com/mobile.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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.

Distinctive hotels and resorts inspire romance with secluded locations, luxurious amenities and delectable cuisine

ORLANDO, Fla., (Feb. 1, 2012) – What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than a romantic getaway or private dinner with that special someone? Cupid can be found at hotels and restaurants throughout the U.S. and Canada all year. But for those seeking an exceptional opportunity to cozy up to a sweetheart this February, AAA inspectors have compiled their favorite places for romance.  

Read about private retreats, sumptuous spa treatments and intoxicating gardens in settings ranging from a historic mansion to seaside cottages. Discover places to enjoy mouthwatering meals and exotic specialties served in hideaways that span from a rooftop oasis to a Moroccan palace.  

AAA inspectors’ 14 favorite romantic hotels and restaurants are listed below. Find their additional recommendations on the AAA travel blog at AAATravelViews.com.

 

Romantic Lodgings

Beachfront Bed & Breakfast, Saint Augustine Beach, Fla., AAA Three Diamond Bed and Breakfast

Situated directly on the beach in a city noted for romance, this quaint, adult-only B&B offers breathtaking views from many areas of the property. With just five rooms in the main house and three in the back cottage, a crowd is not something you’ll find here. Unlike traditional B&Bs, the Beachfront features a heated pool, hot tub and complimentary bicycles. Romance packages include champagne and chocolates on arrival.

The Bryant Park Hotel, New York, N.Y., AAA Four Diamond Contemporary Boutique Hotel

This high-style, midtown Manhattan boutique hotel offers easy access to many of the city’s top attractions. The hip, modern rooms provide luxurious touches like hardwood floors with Tibetan area rugs, Travertine marble bathrooms and state-of-the-art electronics including sound therapy machines. The cellar bar is the place to see and be seen, popular with the young “fashionista” set. Free ice skating is offered right in front of the hotel at Citi Pond in Bryant Park until February 26. 

Chateau Avalon Hotel, Kansas City, Kan., AAA Three Diamond Hotel

This hotel’s focus is providing an exceptional in-room experience. Guestrooms feature individual classic, luxury and adventure themes, all beautifully and tastefully executed. Themes range from the tame, such as the Hemmingway or Seville, to more adventurous styles like the Tahitian Treehouse or Castaway Isle, which features a two-story replica ship’s bow. All include a luxurious tub. Package options include in-room massages and chilled champagne. Guests are served breakfast in their room.

The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, S.C., AAA Five Diamond Resort Cottage

This virtual Garden of Eden sits alongside the tranquil May River. Single and duplex cottages throughout the sprawling, secluded resort offer privacy, with a full menu of world-class amenities. Enjoy a ride on a historic yacht or laps in the heated infinity pool. Indulge in a spa treatment, soak in your enormous in-room steam bath or relax in an Adirondack-style rocking chair on the wooden bridge as you watch the dolphins play in the river. A little white chapel is on property for those who want to take their romance all the way!
 
Mill Rose Inn, Half Moon Bay, Calif., AAA Four Diamond Bed and Breakfast

Just the drive to get here along Highway 1, a scenic coastal drive, is romantic. It’s located within walking distance to the Old Town district and a nice hike to the beach. The beautiful rose garden is perfect for a wedding, according to the local inspector. Each guestroom has different décor with distinctive wallpaper, antique furniture, claw foot tubs and a fireplace to complete the picture. 

Sparkling Hill Resort, Vernon, British Columbia, AAA/CAA Four Diamond Boutique Hotel

Built on a hilltop overlooking Okanagan Lake, this hotel boasts more than 3.5 million individual Swarovski crystals throughout the premises — from opulent chandeliers in the lobby and dining room to unique fireplaces in the guestrooms. Guests may witness a spectacular light show when the sun is setting and its rays hit the crystals just right. The hotel is set up mostly as a couples retreat and offers one of the area’s largest spas featuring more than 100 different treatments.

Vanderbilt Grace, Newport, R.I., AAA Four Diamond Historic Boutique Hotel

This impressive circa 1908 mansion turned Four Diamond hotel features a multimillion dollar art gallery, spa, heated indoor pool and rooftop terrace overlooking the harbor. Each room features sumptuous 400-thread-count sheets, a fluffy duvet topper, Frette robes and slippers. The bathrooms include oversized Italian ceramic showers with dual shower heads and high-end Penhaligon’s bath amenities. The current “Month of Love” package is valid throughout February. 

The Whale Cove Inn, Depoe Bay, Ore., AAA Four Diamond Country Inn

Perched above the crashing Pacific Ocean waves of Whale Cove, this intimate inn offers a truly great escape for couples looking to get away, unwind and just enjoy quiet time together. With only eight luxury suites, guests experience a sense of peace and solitude throughout their stay. All suites feature a large private balcony with a Jacuzzi spa and unrestricted water views.  

 

Enchanting Dining 

Bertrand at Mister A’s, San Diego, Calif., AAA Four Diamond Restaurant

This lovely rooftop restaurant offering beautiful views of the city provides a romantic setting inside and out and highly attentive service. From the large wraparound balcony it appears the world is at your feet. Perfect San Diego weather enhances your opportunity to relax outside with a glass of fine wine, a flavorful entrée and the one you love any time of year. Inside, the inviting décor is softened with candlelight in the evening.

Dahl & DiLuca Ristorante Italiano, Sedona, Ariz, AAA Three Diamond Restaurant

If you associate Italian cuisine with romance, this restaurant will not disappoint. The dining room teems with flowing drapery, stone pillars and crystal chandlers. Background music and legendary homemade pasta complete the picture to “set the mood.” 

Gitane Restaurant & Bar, San Francisco, Calif., AAA Three Diamond Restaurant

The name itself, which means “gypsy,” evokes a sense of excitement. Tucked away in an alley, down a flight of stairs, guests enter to find a bar with soaring ceilings draped with lush velvet and tapestry. Continue to the upstairs dining area to sample mouthwatering dishes culled from Spain, Portugal and the south of France. Dine amid an eclectic, sensuous and surprisingly harmonious fusion of décor. To see the decorator’s piece de resistance, be sure to visit the restroom, renowned for its funky appeal.

Il Mulino, Chicago, Ill., AAA Three Diamond Restaurant

Located in the restored historic Biggs mansion, the restaurant presents a traditionally elegant ambience with luxurious chandeliers, rich dark wood trim, crisp linen-covered tables and a fireplace. On Valentine’s Day, choose the special four-course prix fixe menu or the regular à la carte menu. Every meal includes a variety of complimentary appetizers that start arriving shortly after guests are seated, and may include cheese and salami, fried zucchini and bruschetta. 

Restaurant XO (in Hotel Le Saint-James), Montréal, Québec, AAA/CAA Four Diamond Restaurant

Few hotel dining rooms offer the opulence and romance of this one. Located in a former bank built in 1870, the regal setting was once known as Bankers’ Hall, with a decor posh enough to woo the Victorian-era business elite. Two-story stained glass windows and lavish crystal chandeliers give the room a glamorous glow. The best spot for an intimate dinner is one of the semi-private dining nooks or at a table on the raised mezzanine level. For guests of the hotel, dessert, coffee or an after-dinner digestif can be served in your room.

Sultan’s Tent, Calgary, Alberta, AAA/CAA Two Diamond Restaurant

What could be more romantic than to whisk your loved one off to an exotic land? Exit the modern world when you enter the striking Sultan’s Tent featuring intimate and private booths decorated with rich tapestries and billowing ceiling curtains. Spice up the evening by feeding your Valentine in the traditional way by scooping up your food with the pita bread as knives and forks are available only on request.

For more AAA inspector picks, insider tips and travel stories, visit AAA’s travel blog at AAATravelViews.com

About AAA Inspections

AAA rates more properties than any other rating entity and is the only rating system that covers the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. It is one of only two that conduct physical, on-site evaluations. AAA/CAA Approved lodgings and restaurants are assigned a rating of One to Five Diamonds. For 75 years AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property inspections and publish the results for member travelers.

Listings of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants can be accessed in the AAA TourBook guides, online at AAA.com/Travel and from smartphones using the free AAA TripTik Mobile app or AAA Mobile Web. In addition, AAA members can download free, digital eTourBook guides at AAA.com/ebooks.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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.

An exclusive 179 establishments across the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean attained the travel authority’s highest property rating.

ORLANDO, Fla., (Jan. 20, 2012) – AAA announced today the 126 lodgings and 53 restaurants that earned the AAA/CAA Five Diamond Award® designation for 2012. These select establishments represent just 0.3 percent of the total 59,000 AAA/CAA Approved and Diamond Rated lodgings and restaurants.

Of note among the 16 new additions for 2012 are first-ever Five Diamond establishments for Rhode Island and Antigua. In the restaurant category, New York tops the list for growth with three new Five Diamond establishments. California is the only state to grow in both categories, with two additional lodgings and one restaurant.

Additional Resources

During the past year, eight Five Diamond restaurants closed their doors, at least temporarily. “This 15 percent drop illustrates the speed at which the concept of luxury dining is shifting in response to the economy, changing diner preferences and a corporate redefining of acceptable luxury levels for business reimbursement,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Tourism Information Development. “Today the service style is more casual, with a greater focus on providing a high-quality, individualized, value-focused experience. The addition of seven Five Diamond restaurants reflects the rebound that began for this segment during the latter half of 2011.”

AAA’s professional inspectors, ideally positioned to observe emerging hospitality trends, noted other changes in store for 2012. For hotels, a prevalent trend is creating a home-away-from-home environment, according to AAA inspectors. Another growth area is “smarter” hotel rooms that learn guests’ habits as they use a central remote to control everything from heating and air to lights, curtains, music and wakeup calls. In the restaurant industry, prevailing themes include more natural ingredients, locally sourced foods and healthier meal options. These include rustic fare — simple dishes with fresh ingredients — made in-house and new twists on comfort foods such as a “dusting”  of dried, powdered fruits or vegetables to add texture and flavor, rather than heavy sauces.

“Five Diamond lodgings feature extraordinary physical attributes and meticulous personalized attention, and Five Diamond restaurants feature world-class service and imaginative menu selections using the finest ingredients,” said Petrone. “It is an amazing accomplishment to achieve and maintain this level of quality and service, and AAA is pleased to honor these properties with a Five Diamond Rating.”

New Five Diamond Lodgings:

ARIA Sky Suites, Las Vegas, Nev.

The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, S.C.

Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort, Jumby Bay, Antigua

Mandarin Oriental, Miami, Fla.

Montage Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills, Calif.

Ocean House, Watch Hill, R.I.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Calif.

The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The St. Regis Houston, Houston, Texas

New Five Diamond Restaurants:

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Tarrytown, N.Y.

Del Posto, New York, N.Y.

Herons Restaurant, Cary, N.C. (in the Umstead Hotel & Spa)

The Kitchen Restaurant, Sacramento, Calif.

Marea, New York, N.Y.

Menton, Boston, Mass.

Restaurant Initiale, Québec, Canada

Noteworthy for 2012:

  • Three lodgings have maintained the Five Diamond Rating for 36 consecutive years – since 1976 when AAA first introduced the Diamond Ratings for accommodations: The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., and JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • The restaurant with the longest Five Diamond tenure, 24 consecutive years, since 1988, is The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Va.

For more information about Diamond Ratings and a complete list of Five Diamond lodgings and restaurants, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotel and restaurant listings can be found in the AAA TourBook® guides available at AAA and CAA offices across the continent. They can be accessed online at AAA.com/Travel and through downloadable eTourBookSM guides at AAA.com/ebooks. Smartphone users can locate Diamond Rated establishments using the free AAA TripTik® Mobile app or AAA Mobile Web at AAA.com/mobile.

Continuing a 75-year tradition, AAA’s professionally trained inspectors use published guidelines to conduct unannounced property evaluations. AAA rates more properties than any other rating entity and is the only rating system that covers the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. It is one of only two that conduct physical, on-site evaluations, assigning AAA/CAA Approved lodgings and restaurants One to Five AAA Diamonds. Travelers can access information about AAA inspections and Diamond Ratings at AAA.com/Diamonds.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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.

Ocean House, Watch Hill, R.I.
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Herons Restaurant, Cary, N.C.
(in the Umstead Hotel & Spa)
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Montage, Beverly Hills, Calif.
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ARIA Sky Suites, Las Vegas, Nev.,
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Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort, Antigua, Sea Hare Villa
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