Regional hotels, restaurants win Four Diamonds

By PBN Staff

AAA has recognized 12 hotels, inns and restaurants in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts with its AAA Four Diamond Award for 2006, a designation that tells travelers the properties are “upscale in all areas” – from their physical appearance, to their service.

The list includes the capital city’s newest hotel, the Hotel Providence, and the restaurant within it, L’Epicureo, which hosted a reception to honor all the award recipients March 22.

Also recognized were The Westin Providence (for the third year); Point Pleasant Inn & Resort, in Bristol (third year); the Historic Jacob Hill Inn, in Seekonk (fifth year); and in Newport, the Abigail Stoneman Inn (third year), the Cliffside Inn (second year), and the Hydrangea House Inn (first year).

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Along with L’Epicureo, the Four Diamond restaurants were Mediterraneo, in Providence (fourth year), and the Spiced Pear Restaurant, in Newport (second year).

“AAA Four Diamond Award winners know the language of customer satisfaction as they consistently deliver premier expectations, complete with superior personal service, first-class amenities and impressive surroundings,” said Mark A. Shaw, AAA Southern New England president and CEO, in a news release. “Only establishments that met the extensive quality criteria to become AAA approved receive a AAA Diamond rating.”

Along with a generally upscale feel, the Four Diamond designation, as listed on AAA’s Web site, indicates that:

— Accommodations are “progressively more refined and stylish.”

— The physical attributes “reflect an obvious enhanced level of quality throughout.”

— Guests can enjoy “an extensive array of amenities” and “a high degree of hospitality, service and attention to detail.”

Just 3.4 percent of the more than 32,000 AAA-rated lodgings and 3 percent of the nearly 25,000 AAA-rated restaurants were awarded the Four Diamond designation for 2006 – a total of 1,086 hotels and 739 restaurants.

There is one more level in AAA’s rankings – Five Diamond, defined as “first class” and “the ultimate in luxury and sophistication” – for which no Rhode Island or southeastern Massachusetts properties qualified.

Nevertheless, Four Diamond is considered prestigious enough that The Legendary Inns of Newport, which owns and operates the Abigail Stoneman Inn and the Cliffside Inn, issued a news release touting the accomplishment.

“It’s gratifying to receive this kind of acclaim and recognition for our unique style of luxury, warm hospitality and personal service,” said Winthrop Baker, group president of the Legendary Inns, in the news release. “Our guests have come to expect extraordinary experiences from us, and our unprecedented Four Diamond group awards make it clear AAA sees that we consistently deliver on those guest expectations.”

The ratings are listed in the AAA TourBook guides and on aaa.com. The nonprofit auto club has been rating hotels and other accommodations since 1963.