September 25, 2020

AAA hands out diamonds to hotels and restaurants [ Ritz Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman receives one]


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635569266252775682-Four-Seasons-Resort-Orlando-at-WDW-Resort-LBV-FL-ExteriorBy Nancy Trejos, From USA TODAY
AAA has added 14 restaurants and hotels to its annual list of Five Diamond establishments, the travel authority’s highest honor.

A total of 121 hotels and 63 restaurants have earned Five Diamond status in the past 12 months. AAA has approved more than 58,000 hotels and restaurants in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Five Diamond establishments are considered to be at the ultra-luxury level.

635569266481633550-Shangri-La-hotel-Toronto-Toronto-ON-SuiteAAA inspectors visit about 1,200 hotels and restaurants each week to determine their Five Diamond picks. They make multiple unannounced visits to each establishment, and a panel of experts makes the final decision.

Michael Petrone, director of AAA Inspections and Diamond ratings, says the hotels at the highest level are increasingly offering guests “the choice of high-end service by white glove or touch screen — in person or electronically.”

Guests have access to mobile check-in, in-room iPads, TVs that can be used to order food or schedule facials, and apps that allow them to make restaurant reservations.

“Five Diamond establishments stand apart by redefining personalized service, using creativity to enhance guest comfort and providing memorable experiences,” Petrone says.

The Ritz Grand CaymanAmong the additions to the list this year is Orlando’s only Five Diamond hotel, the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.

The hotel made the cut partly because each room has an iPad that serves as a radio, resort map, event guide and newspaper. Rooms also have a Bose Bluetooth speaker system and high-tech keypads that control lighting, the temperature and a request for privacy.

The Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto is a new addition to AAA’s list of Five Diamond Hotels. (Photo: Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto)
At the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto, another newbie to the list, guests can control the drapes, bedside lighting and air-conditioning system. They can also order room service and call housekeeping or the 24-hour concierge via an in-room iPad.

The Langham Chicago is located in the last office building designed by renowned architect Mies van der Rohe. Inspectors noted that bathrooms have white granite vanities and Italian marble floors.

Five Diamond restaurants tend to be ahead of trends such as farm-to-table and local food sourcing, Petrone says.

Inspectors noted that French restaurant Twist in Las Vegas has vegan and gluten-free options. Chef Pierre Gagnaire has also created an extensive wine list. Diners can take in a magnificent view of the Strip while eating, inspectors noted.

Saison in San Francisco also specializes in French cuisine and offers a 10- or 20-course tasting menu.

“There are no boundaries between the kitchen and dining room for an interactive feel. The outstanding wine pairings are recommended for a full culinary experience,” inspectors wrote.

Award-winning chef Gregory Pugin offers a five-, seven- or nine-courses tasting menu at Palme d’Or in Coral Gables, Fla with “distinctive creations and memorable flavors,” inspectors said.

New Five Diamond hotels

Four Seasons Hotel Denver, Denver

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

The Langham, Chicago

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

New Five Diamond restaurants

Le Chique, Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Orchids at Palm Court, Cincinnati

Palme d’Or, Coral Gables, Fla.

Passion by Martin Berasategui, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Saison, San Francisco

Twist, Las Vegas

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