Archive for the ‘Diamond Ratings’ Category

ORLANDO, Fla. – August 23, 2011

Early inspection system has evolved into the largest in North America with AAA inspectors evaluating and rating more than 59,000 hotels and restaurants annually.

Heather HunterLong before there were websites, social networks and consumer reviews to help travelers find a clean hotel and a good meal, AAA inspectors were looking under beds and tasting the meatloaf all along North America’s roads. This summer, in fact, marks AAA’s 75th year of conducting on-site evaluations and publishing the results — in the good old printed TourBook® guides and, now, online at AAA.com and on the go through ebooks and apps.

“We personally evaluate all of the properties we list,” explained Inspector 80 (identified numerically to maintain anonymity). “We show up unannounced, we never make appointments and we allocate only a short amount of time from the point of introduction to the point we are in the first room conducting our inspection.”

Even in the wake of the recent technological information explosion, AAA members and the rest of the traveling public still want and trust inspector evaluations. Both traveler generated satisfaction scores and professional quality ratings are important, according to the 2010 PhoCusWright Consumer Technology Survey. A full 68 percent of respondents noted each of these website features as influential in their travel planning decisions.

“When I say what I do for a living,” said Inspector 80, “people ask, ‘How do I get your job?’ I tell them you have to love to travel, eat out in restaurants and see attractions … OK, maybe it does sound like fun. While being an inspector can be very demanding, I wake up every morning absolutely excited to be doing what I do.”

A History of Service

In 1937, to provide better travel information for members, AAA employed its first inspectors, called field reporters, to evaluate and report on hotels and restaurants. Inspection information was offered to members in the three regional TourBook guides published at that time.

In 1963, to further improve its decision-making information, AAA adopted a formal rating system that categorized TourBook listed accommodations as Good, Very Good, Excellent or Outstanding. In 1976 AAA introduced its current Diamond Rating System for hotels, using a diamond in honor of the association’s 75th anniversary and, from 1985 to 1990, rolled out the Diamond Ratings for restaurants.

Today, AAA’s professionally trained inspectors continue this practice as they inspect, approve and rate more than 59,000 hotels and restaurants to help ensure travelers have a positive experience.

“AAA is proud to mark three-quarters of a century of providing members with valuable travel information based on in-person evaluations,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Tourism Information Development. “From the early inspection system to today’s comprehensive Diamond Rating System, AAA has been committed to helping members select quality establishments appropriately matched to their needs and expectations.”

About the Inspectors

Living and working in territories across North America, inspectors bring significant industry experience and expertise to the Association. “Inspectors are well positioned to assess the emerging industry landscape as they regularly talk with hotel staff and review facilities and services on-site,” said Petrone. “Trends are ever evolving. In recent years the pace has accelerated, due primarily to the influence of new technology and social media on guest expectations.Property managers must be savvier than ever and seek to become more engaged with their guests. Consumers are looking for the best value properties that offer a total experience rather than just a comfortable room.”

AAA Ratings

AAA’s comprehensive inspection process makes quality a given for every establishment listed for members. “Properties must be clean and well maintained to be AAA Approved, and only then is the Diamond Rating calculated,” added Inspector 80.“IfAAA receives a member complaint about a property, the details are forwarded to the inspector assigned to that territory.If a property does not maintain our cleanliness and condition standards, the listing is disapproved regardless of the Diamond Rating.Also, AAA’s inspectors and sales representatives are two separate entities, allowing for completely unbiased inspections.”

AAA rates more properties than any other rating entity and is the only system that covers the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. It is one of only two that conduct physical, on-site evaluations. Travelers can learn more about AAA inspections and what the Diamond Ratings mean for hotels and restaurants at AAA.com/Diamonds.

AAA Travel Information

After 75 years, members continue to turn to the AAA TourBook guides to find the trusted Diamond Ratings and inspector notes. In addition, travelers can access this valuable information online and on the go. On AAA.com, searchable listings are accessible through the Travel Guides and TripTik® Travel Planner. Travelers with smartphones can use the free AAA Mobile Web or AAA TripTik Mobile app to find nearby listings using GPS technology. At AAA.com/ebooks, members can download free eTourBook guides for use on their ereaders and smartphones.

AAA inspectors also contribute to the AAA TravelViews blog, an informal forum that allows travelers an inside peek at the glamour and realities of inspecting for a living. Later this year the inspectors will begin sharing real-time information on Twitter (@AAA_Travel).

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 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.

ORLANDO, Fla.,  April 29, 2011

Veggie lovers can rely on AAA experts to guide them to tasty, creative meals

Heather HunterNo longer do vegetarians have to resort just to pasta dishes when eating out. AAA inspectors share where to find complex and delicious meals featuring wholesome ingredients in sensational combinations. AAA polled its professional inspectors for their favorite places for vegetarian dining. Discover their top 13 picks below, a baker’s dozen of restaurants to visit for fresh new menu options and flavorful meat-free renditions of old favorites.

3 Sisters Café, Indianapolis, Ind., AAA Two Diamond Restaurant

Locals and tourists alike flock to this slightly worn, yet charming Victorian house turned restaurant offering plenty of vegetarian and vegan options (beyond just “take off the cheese”) in addition to standard fare. All-day breakfast is the main draw for patrons looking for a homey atmosphere. Vegan favorites include multigrain porridge with almond milk, grilled tofu scrambles and a homemade black bean burger.

Claire’s Corner Copia, New Haven, Conn., AAA One Diamond Restaurant

Claire’s appetizing vegetarian dishes include all-day breakfast items, bakery treats and distinctive kosher, Italian and Mexican creations featuring mostly organic ingredients. Join the Yale students and locals who have patronized this gourmet spot for more than 30 years. Checkered tile flooring and original artwork for sale on the walls add to the charm.

Commensal Vegetarian Restaurant, Toronto, Ontario, AAA/CAA Two Diamond Restaurant

The upscale self-service buffet, right in the city center, combines fast, delicious and good for you. Diners pay just for what they take. Creative, exclusively vegetarian options include eggplant in ginger sauce, meat-free sweet potato shepherd’s pie and decadent desserts like walnut raisin caramel pie. The casual and contemporary setting includes a changing display of paintings.

Dragonfly Neo-V Cuisine, Columbus, Ohio, AAA Three Diamond Restaurant

This well-established vegetarian and vegan restaurant graces the older, urban University District neighborhood. Chef-owner Magdiale Wolmark draws his menu exclusively from plant-based foods, offering a full selection of courses from soup to dessert. Entrees include mock duck, a house-made gnocchi with barnier olives and confit garlic and a “mac and cheese” made with orzo pasta and a vegan cheese topped with cornmeal-encrusted broccoli.

French Meadow Bakery and Café, Minneapolis, Minn., AAA Three Diamond Restaurant

The small café offers a full line of tempting baked goods including vegan breads. The brown rice bread is a AAA inspector favorite. The menu at this farm-to-table restaurant – it has partnered with a local farm to supply fresh produce – features organic, all-natural ingredients for casual breakfast and lunch options such as Cajun hash browns and free-range chicken wraps and more elegant dinner selections such as pumpkin risotto with morel mushrooms.

Green Vegetarian Cuisine and Coffee, San Antonio, Texas, AAA Two Diamond Restaurant

The colorful century-old brick structure, front-yard herb garden and patio dining provides a quiet, idyllic setting. Inside features framed original art and exposed brick walls. The recycled-paper menu offers a Reuben made of vegetarian ham, homemade sauerkraut and chipotle mayo and a variety of enchiladas, burgers, stroganoff and wraps. As part of a biweekly promotion for healthy eating at home, the restaurant loads a mobile food cart with its select “farm-to-table” produce for sale.

Horizons Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., AAA Three Diamond Restaurant

Fascinating, flavorful and romantic aren’t associations typically conjured by vegan cuisine. But one taste from the seasonally changing menu satisfies the cravings of carnivores and vegans alike. Sample delicately crafted cocktails and savory delights like the succulent Jamaican BBQ seitan and Cuban paella. The airy, upscale setting makes this the perfect spot for a lingering date.

Komol Restaurant, Las Vegas, Nev., AAA One Diamond Restaurant

The small Thai restaurant, tucked away in a retail center, is known for its delicious family recipes and friendly service. The extensive menu includes authentic Thai cuisine with numerous vegetarian and vegan versions. Selections include seaweed soup, crispy spinach, fried corn served with cucumber salad, vegetarian satay and sweet and sour tofu.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant, Boulder, Colo., AAA Three Diamond Restaurant

Artistic food presentations and elegant décor create a sophisticated vegetarian dining experience. Entrees include huevos rancheros, Jamaican jerk tempeh and vegetarian alfredo. Its complex flavor and visual appeal makes the sweet onion tart a favorite of the AAA inspector, but the most memorable item was a ginger lemon nonalcoholic shrub — a zesty fruit beverage dating to colonial times.

Lovin’ Spoonfuls, Tucson, Ariz., AAA Two Diamond Restaurant

This locally-owned, all-vegan restaurant offers a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu free of any animal products. Mouthwatering appetizers include an award-winning cashew mushroom pate, hummus dip and marinated grapevine leaves stuffed with seasoned rice. Entrees include veggie tofu scrambles, juicy soy burgers and savory meat-free pepper steak, along with organic wines and beers.

McFoster’s Natural Kind Cafe, Omaha, Neb., AAA Two Diamond Restaurant

Friendly staff members strive to help guests become familiar with vegetarian and vegan dining. The quaint, well-worn restaurant is surrounded by gardens, yielding fresh herbs for use in delectable and nutritious dishes. Popular items include the huge salads, soups made with vegetable stock and entrees ranging from tofu dishes and eggplant parmesan to falafel and veggie burgers.

Sage’s Cafe, Salt Lake City, Utah, AAA Two Diamond Restaurant

The café features international, organic vegetarian cuisine using locally grown foods. Specialties include carrot butter pate, raw pad Thai salad (an inspector favorite), vegan Philly “cheese steak,” French toast dipped in tofu batter and a house-made root beer. The children’s menu is extensive, and Tuesday is all-you-can-eat pizza night.

Tillie Gort’s, Pacific Grove, Calif., AAA Two Diamond Restaurant

The small restaurant serves an incredible selection of vegetarian, vegan and meat dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The diverse menu includes Italian, Mexican, Indian and American entrees including tofu scrambles, pasta dishes, vegetarian paella, eggplant parmesan and a “No Meat Loaf.”

For more selections across the U.S. and Canada, visit AAA’s travel blog at AAATravelViews.com.

About AAA Inspections

AAA began field inspections of lodgings and restaurants in 1937 and introduced a formal rating system for accommodations in 1963. The early rating system evolved into the Diamond Rating System for lodgings in 1976 and was rolled out for restaurants between 1985 and 1990. Professionally trained AAA/CAA inspectors use published guidelines to evaluate and rate properties as a service to members.

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.

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 52 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.

ORLANDO, Fla., – January 14, 2011

AAA announced today the 179 establishments named as AAA/CAA Five Diamond Award® designees for 2011.

Heather HunterJust 124 lodgings and 55 restaurants were eligible for the travel authority’s highest and most exclusive rating. These select establishments represent 0.3 percent of the total 59,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated lodgings and restaurants across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean
With 18 additions this year — 15 new lodgings and three new restaurants — and a solid contingent of continuing Five Diamond establishments, the overall number is up 8 percent, compared to 165 in 2010. Most notably, the addition of a Five Diamond Lodging in both St. Lucia and the Dominican Republic marks a first for these C aribbean countries.

This year’s addition of three Five Diamond Restaurants follows a two-year decline in numbers. “It is encouraging to see an increase in the number of AAA Five Diamond establishments this year,” said Michael Petrone, director of AAA Tourism Info rmation Development. “The recent economic downturn has presented many challenges for the travel industry including increased closures and fewer new restaurant openings.”

Five Diamond Material

All Five Diamond lodgings and restaurants are subject to unannounced an nual evaluations based on extensive published guidelines while potential additions to the exclusive list undergo additional review. “AAA is pleased to present these establishments with the Five Diamond Award designation,” said Petrone. “It is truly a significant accomplishment to achieve the highest level of hospitality; however, the ultimate challenge is to continuously exceed guest expectations on a continual basis.”

Four Diamond Material

Travelers can access AAA/CAA Diamond Ratings and Inspector Notes in the printed TourBook guides, eTourBook guides and online at AAA.com using the searchable listings, TripTik Travel Planner or AAA Mobile Web. Plus, those with an Apple iPhone can now access AAA’s travel information on the go with the free AAA TripTik® Mobile app. AAA TripTik Mobile uses GPS technology to display AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants near a user’s location.

New Five Diamond Restaurants:

Winvian (in the Winvian), Morris,Conn.
Lumière, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Carolina at the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, Punta Mita, Nayarit, Mexico

New Five Diamond Lodgings:

The Ritz-Carlton, Denver, Colo.
Winvian, Morris, Conn.
The St. Regis Atlanta Hotel & Residences, Atlanta, Ga.
Elysian, Chicago, Ill.
Trump International Hotel & Tower, Chicago, Ill.
The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common, Boston, Mass.
Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nev.
Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, Nev.
Trump International Hotel & Tower, New York, N.Y.
The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, N.C.
Four Seasons Hotel Houston, Houston, Texas
Tortuga Bay Punta Cana Resort & Club, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Jade Mountain Resort, Soufriere, St. Lucia
Le Blanc Spa Resort, Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort Riviera Maya, Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Noteworthy for 2011:

  • The Dominican Republic gained its first Five Diamond establishment: Tortuga Bay Punta Cana Resort & Club in Punta Cana.
  • St. Lucia gained its first Five Diamond establishment: Jade Mountain Resort in Soufriere.
  • Illinois, Nevada and Quintana Roo, Mexico, each gained two Five Diamond Lodgings.
  • Connecticut is the only state to add a Five Diamond Lodging and a Five Diamond Restaurant: the Winvian resort and its on-site Winvian restaurant in Morris Conn..
  • The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., and Camelback Inn, A JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., have maintained the Five Diamond Rating for 35 consecutive years – since 1976 when AAA first introduced the Diamond Ratings for accommodations.
  • The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Va., which has maintained the Five Diamond Rating for 23 consecutive years, since 1988, has the longest Five Diamond Restaurant tenure.

AAA began field inspections of lodgings and restaurants in 1937 and introduced a formal rating system for accommodations in 1963. The early rating system evolved into the Diamond Rating System for lodgings in 1976 and was rolled out for restaurants between 1986 and 1991. Professionally trained AAA/CAA inspectors use published guidelines to evaluate and rate properties as a service to members.

AAA rates more properties than any other rating entity and is the only rating system that covers the United States, 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.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 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.

  • Posted in Diamond Ratings, Travel
  • Comments Off on Fifteen Lodgings and Three Restaurants Join AAA’s Prestigious Five Diamond List for 2011

Orlando, Fla., November 6, 2009

New Mexico gains first-ever Five Diamond property, restaurants more affected by economic downturn

AAA today announced the 2010 AAA/CAA Five Diamond Award® winners. Sixteen lodgings have been added for a total of 113 hotels and 52 restaurants that
have achieved Five Diamond status, the travel authority’s highest rating for hotels and restaurants.
The overall number of Five Diamond Award winners this year grew to 165 establishments, compared to 162 in 2009. Even in the current economic climate, there continues to be strong competition in the travel industry to achieve the highest rating and provide the most discriminating travelers with luxurious accommodations and upscale dining options. Most notably, the state of New Mexico has gained its first-ever Five Diamond Award winner, Encantado, An Auberge Resort in Santa Fe.
For 2010, no restaurants were added to the list, and seven were removed, six of which closed in the past year. AAA has noticed a decrease in the number of new restaurants opening in the past year.

Lodging expansion and construction plans are often multi-year projects and do not appear to have been as immediately affected by the economic downturn, as indicated by the addition of 16 new Five Diamond lodgings.

Additional Materials

“The past year has presented many challenges for the travel industry. To achieve and maintain the highest level of hospitality during these difficult economic times is a significant accomplishment,” said Michael Petrone, director of AAA Tourism Information Development. “AAA is pleased to present these establishments with the Five Diamond Award designation in recognition of top-quality service and facilities that consistently exceed guest expectations.”

Travelers will have the opportunity to interact with one of AAA’s professional inspectors at AAA’s Best and Biggest Virtual Travel Show on Tuesday, November 10 at 6 p.m. EST. During this session the inspector will discuss recipients of the coveted AAA Five Diamond Award, the qualifications needed to earn the award, and also what travelers can expect to find at One, Two, Three and Four Diamond restaurants and lodgings. To register for the show and learn about deals and discounts available only from AAA visit www.AAA.com/virtualshows.

New Five Diamond Award Winners:

Florida and Nevada top the list for new winners this year, each with three additional Five Diamond lodgings. In Florida: The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale; The Four Seasons Resort, Palm Beach; and Acqualina Resort and Spa on the Beach in Sunny Isles Beach. In Nevada: The Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas in Henderson and both Encore Las Vegas and The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.

Mexico gained three Five Diamond lodgings: The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort in Punta Mita and both Rosewood Mayakoba and the Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya in Playa Del Carmen.

California and New York each gained two new winners. In California: The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast and The Grand Del Mar in San Diego. In New York: The Plaza Hotel and The Pierre New York-A Taj Hotel, both in New York City.

Massachusetts, New Mexico and Texas each gained one additional Five Diamond lodging: Mandarin Oriental, Boston; Encantado, An Auberge Resort in Sante Fe, N.M.; and The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas.

Noteworthy for 2010:

  • New Mexico has gained its first ever Five Diamond Award winner: Encantado, An Auberge Resort.
  • Florida and Nevada gained more Five Diamond properties than other states, each gaining three lodgings.
  • The American Club in Kohler, Wis., celebrates a quarter-century as a AAA Five Diamond Award Winner.
  • The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., and Camelback Inn, A JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., have maintained a Five Diamond Rating for 34 consecutive years – since the hotel Diamond Ratings were first published in the AAA TourBook® guides.
  • The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Va., is the only restaurant to maintain Five Diamond status for 22 consecutive years.

Representing the upper echelon of the hospitality industry, AAA Five Diamond Award winners make up just 0.28 percent of the 58,000 Diamond Rated lodgings and restaurants throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

The assignment of a AAA rating of One to Five Diamonds marks the completion of a successful annual evaluation by one of AAA’s professional inspectors. AAA’s professional inspectors evaluate and rate more than 58,000 lodgings and restaurants in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean using a scale of One to Five Diamonds. They conduct an average of more than 1,100 property evaluations per year and have a combined total of 700 years experience. The average tenure is 12 years, with the longest being 28 years. AAA inspectors work remotely and bring significant prior industry experience to the association.

AAA’s Diamond Rating System is the only ratings system that covers all of North America and one of only two that conducts physical, on-site evaluations. It is the only system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property using guidelines made available to all establishments. AAA evaluates more properties than any other rating entity. Information about AAA Diamond Ratings and the complete 2010 Five Diamond Award winners lists are accessible at AAA.com/News.

AAA Diamond ratings are published in AAA TourBook® travel guides, which are available free to AAA members. Ratings are also accessible through AAA’s popular online mapping tool, the TripTik® Travel Planner, available free at AAA.com. One click on the handy map icons opens AAA listings, many with photos, from AAA’s database of 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants.

AAA approves and rates properties on an individual basis and, often, the ratings are reflective of several years of inspection and analysis by AAA’s professional inspectors. Although market fluctuations can and do impact properties, AAA does not use this as a reference when assessing ratings. AAA relies on a set of published criteria, the Diamond Rating Guidelines, which is based on member expectations and common industry practices.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 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.

 

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