AAA Extends Five Diamond Honor to 6 Additional Hotels and 8 Restaurants for 2014

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AAA’s new 2014 Diamond Ratings are now out.  This year, AAA added 14 additional hotels and 14 restaurants to their top rating.  However, AAA also downgraded 7 hotels from a Five-Diamond Rating to a Four-Diamond Rating.  There are currently 124 Five-Diamond Hotels in North America (only about .4 percent of all hotels).

Here are the new Five-Diamond Hotels:

  • Château du Sureau, Oakhurst, Calif.
  • Wynn Tower Suites, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah
  • Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto, Canada
  • Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, Acapulco, Mexico
  • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Here are the new Five-Diamond Restaurants:

  • The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.
  • Acadia, Chicago, Ill.
  • Grace Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.
  • Sixteen, Chicago, Ill.
  • Per Se, New York, N.Y.
  • Restaurant La Tanière, Québec, Canada
  • Restaurant Le Patriarche, Québec, Canada
  • Cocina de Autor, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Congratulations to the new award winners!  About a year or so, we wrote an article detailing how much harder it would be in 2013 to pass the Five-Diamond certification.  Basically, you have to score a 78 percent now, compared to a 69 percent in the past.  From the AAA press release: Continue reading

Four Hotel Companies Make it on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For 2014 List

FortuneFortune Magazine released their 2014 Best 100 Companies to Work For List.  Google was number one again this year, but 4 hotel companies made the list.  Kimpton Hotels, Marriott International, Four Seasons Hotels, and Hyatt Hotels all made the best of list for 2014.  Kimpton, Marriott, and Four Seasons were all on the list last year.  Hyatt Hotels is the only newcomer.  Four Seasons and Marriott Hotels are two of only 13 companies that have made the list every year since it began in 1998.

Here are the 4 with their rankings from Fortune:

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The hotel minibar may soon be extinct – LA Times

minibarSay it ain’t so!  According to a recent survey by TripAdvisor, the hotel minibar was the least important amenity for U.S. travelers.  According to the LA Times article:

Only 21% of travelers ranked the mini-bar as an important amenity, compared to 89% who called free in-room wireless Internet the most important.

There is little financial reason to keep minibars. Hotel consulting firms estimate that minibars generate no more than 0.24% of total hotel revenue, with much of that eaten up by the cost to check and restock the bars.

Companies that build and sell automated minibars that electronically charge guests when a drink or snack is removed from the bar say they can cut the labor costs by up to 60%.

Still, industry experts say minibars won’t be around for long.

While it will be sad to see the minibars leaving, one of the reasons why they fell out of favor is pretty exciting.  From the article: Continue reading

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. and Jean-Michel Cousteau Launch Ritz Kids at Hotels and Resorts Around the World

Ritz-Carlton LogoHere is something that we are really excited about.  The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company to launch Ritz Kids around the world.  We’ve complained for years that hotels, especially resorts, are not nearly as kid friendly as they should be.  When we vacation with our kiddos, we want kid specific activities (think Disney!).  It sounds like the Ritz-Carlton is listening to our kids.  From the press release:

The Ritz-Carlton aims to delight their youngest guests by making memories that last well beyond their hotel stays. Ritz Kids is an engaging and immersive experience that builds upon the adventures of travel that children will always treasure at 84 hotels from Hawaii to Kazakhstan.

“We are very excited to continue our highly successful relationship with a unique individual whose entire life has been spent dedicated to preservation of the environment, with particular attention to marine conservation and education,” said Herve Humler, president and chief operating officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

The new global brand standard for children’s programming includes robust activities for resorts, in addition to multiple touch points for children at city and urban properties. The refined luxury experience for young guests aged four to 12 provides a differentiated program which engages children to explore the world around them.

“The fun and exciting activities appeal to a child’s innate love of discovery and sense of curiosity.  All kids start out as scientists, constantly asking ‘Why? What’s that? How does it work?’   I have spent my life exploring the natural wonders of the world, seeking to understand how our planet works and how we can better protect it,” said Jean-Michel Cousteau.

Here is a little peak into the upcoming program: Continue reading

Hotels that go green gain no booking advantage – LA Times

LEED-Certification-LogoInteresting article in the LA Times from Hugo Martin.  According to a recent study by Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research, green hotels (such as certified LEED hotels) do not have an advantage when it comes to attracting guests.  From the article:

Going green may be a hot trend in the hospitality industry, but hotels that earn environmental certificates do not have an advantage when it comes to attracting guests.

The finding comes from a study published recently by Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research. The study compared booking revenue at 3,000 eco-certified hotels with 6,000 other properties in North America. Environmental certificates include the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, or LEED, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

While the reason is generally unclear, there are a few guesses.  From the article: Continue reading

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company Plans on Adding 20 More Hotel Projects by 2016

Ritz-Carlton LogoRitz-Carlton announced plans to add another 20 hotels projects by the end of 2016, putting their total hotels over the century mark.  From the press release:

In the last 12 months, The Ritz-Carlton has opened three iconic properties, including Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico, The Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi a beach-front resort in the capital city of The United Arab Emirates, and the brand’s first hotel in the stunning European city of Vienna in Austria.

No less than six new Ritz-Carlton hotels are scheduled to open in the last quarter of this year, including two properties in China; The Ritz-Carlton, Chengdu and The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin; The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba will add to the stunning Caribbean portfolio; and the luxury brand is slated to open in three new countries with The Ritz-Carlton, Herzliya, Israel; The Ritz-Carlton, Almaty in Kazakhstan and The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore in India.

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Forbes Travel Guide Releases Mid-2013 Star Award Winners

ForbesWe’ve heard for quite a while that Forbes Travel (formerly Mobil) has really ramped-up their inspections of hotels, restaurants, and spas in an attempt to compete with AAA.  They have just announced that they will now update their list of twice a year, instead of just once each year.  From their press release:

Just in time for fall travel season, Forbes Travel Guide reveals its inaugural update to the official Forbes Travel Guide Star Rating list, adding eight new Five-Star hotels, restaurants and spas; 47 new Four-Star hotels, restaurants and spas; and 36 new Recommended hotels and restaurants. Though we’ve been hard at work inspecting and rating the world’s best hotels, restaurants and spas for more than 55 years, we’ve never before revealed new additions to our list outside of our annual announcement (which takes place each winter—watch in January for even more Star Rating news).

With the addition of the 8 new Five-Star hotels, Forbes now has 83 Five-Star hotels.

Here is the full list of current Forbes Five-Star Hotels: Continue reading

JD Power: Following Two Years of Declines, Hotel Guest Satisfaction Increases to a Seven-Year High

JD Power LogoThe new JD Power 2013 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study have just been released.  After two years of declines, hotel guest satisfaction increases to a seven-year high.  From the press release:

Overall guest satisfaction averages 777 on a 1,000-point scale, up 20 points from 2012. This marks the highest satisfaction index score for the hotel industry since the introduction of the current study methodology in 2006. Satisfaction has increased in all seven factors, with the largest increases in reservation, cost and fees, and check-in/check-out.  

“The fact that guest satisfaction has turned a corner is great news for an industry that has struggled to sufficiently meet guest expectations in the past few years,” said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “Many hotel chains are finally benefitting from the long-term investments they have been making to improve their properties in terms of staffing, rooms and facilities. Furthermore, cost and fees satisfaction has increased while the factor has simultaneously declined in relative importance to overall satisfaction across all segments, indicating reduced price sensitivity among guests. These are all positive changes for the industry.”

Once again, The Ritz-Carlton claimed the top spot for the luxury brands.  Here are the top ranking hotels by division:

Will Room Service Be Eliminated at Full Service Hotels?

Welcome to the New York Hilton MidtownAn article about the New York Hilton Hotel eliminating room service has been everywhere these last few days.  Originally appearing on Crain’s New York Business site, we’ve seen similar articles everywhere from the Yahoo front page to the New York Times.  From the Crain’s New York Business Article:

The New York Hilton Midtown is the largest hotel in the city, with nearly 2,000 rooms. In August, it will earn another distinction: It will discontinue room service.   The move will eliminate 55 jobs. It could also ignite an industrywide trend. Other hotels, such as the Hudson in New York and the Public in Chicago, are already nibbling at the concept, offering meals delivered in brown paper bags.

The hotel will be adding cafeteria style dining instead.  From the article:

The Hilton property on Sixth Avenue, between West 53rd and West 54th streets, will open a downmarket grab-and-go restaurant this summer called Herb n’ Kitchen, a cafeteria-style eatery that will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. The plan was announced in October as part of a larger initiative at the hotel chain, which is simplifying its food offerings at Double Tree by Hilton and Embassy Suites as well.   What it didn’t mention then, however, is that Herb n’ Kitchen will replace the room-service operation at the midtown hotel.   “Like most full-service hotels, New York Hilton Midtown has continued to see a decline in traditional room-service requests over the last several years,” said a spokesman in a statement. The Hilton Hawaiian Village was the first Hilton to eliminate room service. In October, it put away the china and linen in favor of takeout.

From the New York Times Article:

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Marriott to Offer Complimentary Breakfast for Marriott Rewards Gold & Platinum Members

Marriott LogoStarting on June 22nd, Marriott Hotels will begin to offer a free continental breakfast to their Gold and Platinum Marriott Rewards members.  From the Marriott press release:

It’s been said breakfast is the most important meal of the day and now it’s on us. Beginning June 22nd, Marriott Rewards Gold and Platinum Elite members and a guest will receive complimentary continental breakfast* seven days a week at  participating JW Marriott®, Autograph Collection® , Renaissance® and Marriott® Hotels in the U.S. and Canada.  Any time the lounge is closed, Gold and Platinum Elite members will have a choice of continental breakfast for two in the hotels’ restaurant or 750 points**.  As always, outside the U.S. and Canada, they’ll receive free continental breakfast daily at participating hotels.

“Taking care of our best guests is our most important mission.  While we have been offering complimentary breakfast on the weekdays in our concierge lounges for three decades, we think our members will find great value in receiving complimentary breakfast every day of the week,” said Ed French, senior vice president, Marriott Rewards.

In order to become a Gold Rewards Member, you typically have to stay at a Marriott Hotel over 50 nights.  Platinum benefits start at 75 nights.

Source:  Marriott Press Release