ORLANDO, Fla — AAA announced 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.
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, Quebec, 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 eTourBook(SM) 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.
AAA news releases, high resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at NewsRoom.AAA.com.