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. Noteworthy for 2013:
- The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the only hotel that has maintained the Five Diamond Rating for 37 consecutive years – since 1976 when AAA first introduced the Diamond Ratings for accommodations.
- The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Va., has the longest Five Diamond restaurant tenure, 25 consecutive years, since 1988.
- With two restaurant additions, Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernardin, New York now ties with California for the most AAA Five Diamond Restaurants: seven in each state.
- The only new AAA Five Diamond hotel and restaurant pair is The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and its on-site restaurant Salt, in Fernandina Beach, Fla.
- The number of Five Diamond hotels in Canada doubled to four with the addition of the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver and The Ritz-Carlton Montreal. The country is also home to five Five Diamond Restaurants, representing nearly 10 percent of the total.