Hotel Online  Special Report
Our Favorite Hotel?

Harry Nobles & Cheryl Thompson Griggs,  March 2003

We hear this question frequently.  We hear it from clients, from colleagues, and from guests.  We are always pleased to be asked for several reasons.  First, it gives us the opportunity to reminisce and remember enjoyable experiences; it also causes us to reflect on the things that make a hotel memorable.  It is also a chance to share our thoughts with others, something we very much enjoy.
During  my AAA tenure and our many years of travel, jointly and individually, for business and pleasure, we have seen a lot of hotels.  We have visited, inspected, and rated hotels of all types and all sizes throughout the U.S. and in several foreign countires.  We will try to reach a decision with a stroll down memory lane.
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There is the wonderful small inn in Japan, situated on a cliff overlooking the river far below.  Beautiful, intimate, with a pastoral setting and an excellent staff.  Another small inn in Thailand merits a mention.  Its secluded hilltop location with a view of the Andaman Sea to the west and the Gulf of Thailand to the east, and luxurious natural landscaping all evoke very pleasant memories.  A simple, wood-dominated decor in the six rooms enhances the  sense of peaceful isolation.

A plush resort on the tip of a sun drenched peninsular in Mexico with a panoramic view of both the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez ranks very high on our list.  At the other end of the spectrum is a large resort in the Canadian Rockies that offers a breathtaking view of remote mountain splendor.

Also on the “favorite” list is a sprawling hotel complex in the heart of Bangkok.  Surrounded by spacious grounds, lush tropical landscaping, and temple-like towers, one is mentally transported to a jungle environment.

We must not omit the classic hotels and resorts that abound all over the U.S.   These include the large urban properties ranging from the historic to the ultra modern and world class ski and beach resorts with extensive recreation facilities.  We have also visited many excellent smaller country inns and B&B’s, historic and modern, and some merit inclusion on our list.  Some are famous while others are obscure; some are luxurious and some are elegantly simple. 

Despite the very wide variety of locations, types, sizes, and styles of hotels we considered in the quest for our favorite, there is one common denominator: people.  Every hotel on our favorite list is characterized by a very special atmosphere or ambience.  Ambience is not created by location, architecture, or any other physical attribute.  Although physical things can add to the effect, people alone create ambience.

One of our favorite places, albeit an unlikely example,  is an 8-room roadside motel in West Texas.  This ultimate “mom and pop” operation has large but simply furnished rooms, a gravel parking lot, and registration in the owner’s living room The 8 rooms are spotlessly and personally cleaned every day by the owners; there are no employees. 

There are no phones in the rooms.  Each  guest is asked two questions at check in:  “What time do you want to wake up, and how do you like your coffee”.  Your wake-up call is the owner knocking at your door with hot coffee.  When I asked the owners why only 8 rooms, the told me they built only as many as they were sure they could personally handle at their standard of  housekeeping, maintenance, and service.  They have succeed in creating a very special place and are firmly positioned on our list. 

So, what is our favorite hotel?  The jury is still out on that but you can be sure the final winner will be an immaculate facility run by genuinely hospitable people providing impeccable personalized service surrounded by breathtaking natural vistas, and giving guests everything they need for a truly special experience.

Harry Nobles & Cheryl Thompson Griggs


Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting
POC:  Harry Nobles
Phone:  757-564-3761
Fax:        757-564-0076


  • Former head of AAA Lodging/Dining Ratings Program. 
  • An independent consultant serving the hospitality industry. 
  • A Special Training Consultant to the Educational Institute, American Hotel/Motel Association
Also See: The Current Value of AAA Hotel Ratings / Feb 2003
Stars and Diamonds; Some Similarities and Some Differences / January 2003
AAA's Delay: Good or Bad? / July 2002
Timing Is Everything, Or Is It? / July 2002 
Boutique Hotels: Have They Gone Too Far / May 2002
People Really Do Make the Difference / Jan 2002
What Is a Boutique Hotel? / Dec 2001
The Non-negotiable Traits of Leaders / Oct 2001 
How Important is Service? / Sept 2001
Front Desk Service Mistakes / Aug 2001
Food & Beverage Mistakes & How to Correct Them / July 2001
Bell Staff Mistakes & How to Correct Them / July 2001 
Attitude vs Aptitude / June 2001
Female Business Travelers' Expectations / June 2001
Is Outsourcing Your Training a Viable Alternative? / June 2001
Unique Identity + Consistent Service = Success / May 2001
AAA Standards vs  Guests' Expectations / May 2001
Are Your Guests Better Informed Than Your Staff? / April 2001
Are U.S. Hotels Rated Differently From Other North American Hotels? / April 2001
The Design Theme - AAA / Mobil Ratings Connection / March 2001
Attitude Can Make the Difference / January 2001
How Should Casino-Hotels be Rated? / Dec 2000
Does AAA Rate Resorts Fairly? / Nov 2000
Is Your Property Suffering From Design Deficiency? / Nov 2000 
The Future of AAA Ratings / September 2000
What Is Your Optimum AAA Rating / August 2000
If You Disagree With Your AAA Rating…../ June 2000
Are AAA Ratings Always Accurate and Objective / May 2000
Creating Atmosphere / Jan 2000
What is "Atmosphere"? / December 1999
Maintaining Your AAA Rating / Nov 1999
Earning a AAA Rating vs Maintaining a AAA Rating: Which Is More Difficult?  / Oct 1999
Can Outstanding Service Offset Hotel Physical Deficiencies in the Rating Systems? / Harry Nobles / June 1999 
Consistency: The Hallmark of a Fine Hotel / September 1999
Who Should Train Your Employees  / Aug 2000 
Mobil Travel Guide Announces 1998 Mobil Four-and Five-Star Award Winners / Jan 1998 
Key to Success: Training + Follow-Up / June 2000
The Legend of the Pineapple / Harry Nobles / Feb 1999 
To Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting Index Page

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