ORLANDO, Florida — AAA announced yesterday 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.
“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.”
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.
New Five Diamond Hotels:
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 Montreal, Quebec, 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:
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.
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.