ORLANDO, Fla. – AAA announced today the 179 establishments named as AAA/CAA Five Diamond Award® designees for 2011. Just 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 Caribbean 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 Information Development. “The recent economic downturn has presented many challenges for the travel industry including increased closures and fewer new restaurant openings.”
All Five Diamond lodgings and restaurants are subject to unannounced annual 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.”
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.
Lumiere, 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.