Hotels across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean are flaunting new "bling" with the release of AAA's 2013 Four and Five Diamond awards. A total of 110 properties have been added to the highly reputed lists.

AAA's Diamond Rating is one of the few appraisal systems that rely on physical on-site inspections. Members of AAA's inspection team evaluate each property based on comfort, cleanliness, security, and available services and amenities. Each property is then given a Diamond Rating between one and five, five being the best.

Out of the 30,000 hotels that were assessed, only 125 hotels have been awarded the prestigious Five Diamond rating. Nine of those hotels are newcomers, including the Trump Soho in New York City, the Montage Laguna Beach in Laguna Beach, Calif., and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island in Fernandina Beach, Fla. This year marks the first time Puerto Rico has appeared on the list, with The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort sporting the island's first Five Diamond award.

These newcomers join the ranks among numerous distinguished properties, but they have a long way to go before they can truly claim Five-Diamond legacy. Only six hotels—including the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead in Atlanta, and The American Club in Kohler, Wis.—have managed to hold on to all five diamonds for 25 consecutive years. But that pales in comparison to The Broadmoor's reign: This Colorado Springs hotel has maintained its place on the Five Diamond list since AAA first inaugurated the Diamond system in 1976.

According to Michael Petrone, the director of 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."

The slightly less exclusive Four Diamond list added 101 hotels to its roster this year, including the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Ariz. and the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe, N.M. The new total of 1,535 Four-Diamond properties represents a 2-percent increase in award-recipient size compared to last year. The new properties will strive for legacies as long as those held by The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver and The Carlyle in New York City, two of just 13 hotels that have retained their place on the Four Diamond list for 37 consecutive years.

This year, New York City captured the highest number of diamond awards, boasting eight Five-Diamond and 43 Four-Diamond hotels. Las Vegas features eight of the Five Diamond winners, but only 17 Four Diamond-awarded properties. Oddly, neither New York nor Nevada topped the list of states with the most gemstones: California raked in the most awards, earning a total of 20 Five-Diamond properties and 180 Four-Diamond hotels.  

To learn more about the Diamond Ratings or to view all of the Four- and Five-Diamond award recipients, visit AAA's website


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