Hotel Online  Special Report
Resorts Ratings Redux

Harry Nobles & Cheryl Thompson Griggs,  February 2004

In November 2000 we published an article entitled Does AAA Rate Resorts Fairly?  In that article we addressed the need for consistency and uniformity in regard to the AAA Diamond rating criteria used for resorts compared to urban properties.  We suggested in that article that criteria and standards should be uniformly applied to all properties.  
We also acknowledged some “judicious discretion” by inspectors, but always within the overall context of the AAA Diamond Ratings Guidelines.  We still believe this is the right approach.  Failure to follow these guidelines could cause a return to the pre-1989 days when AAA first published its criteria.  Compilation 
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and publication of these detailed standards have done much to improve AAA’s consistency and credibility.  The system is not yet perfect, but it is much better than it was.

Since publishing our article in November 2000, we have visited  resorts in the U.S. and in several foreign countries.  This has not caused us to change our position on the need for consistent application of the ratings requirements; we do, however, suggest that this consistent application could be more realistic and practical. 

We do not advocate that inspectors randomly and unilaterally ignore the established standards and guidelines.  We suggest it may be time for AAA to revisit the ratings criteria for resorts, particularly the physical requirements at the 4 Diamond level.  We believe there should be somewhat less rigid physical  requirements for guestrooms and more emphasis on the recreation facilities.  We believe this can be done without any degradation of ratings consistency and value, if properly supervised and monitored.

Since a revision by AAA is not likely to happen immediately, what can resorts do in the meantime?  They might determine what their physical weak points are and look at implementing a realistic correction program.  They might look at the most cost effective ways to address needed physical improvements. We always advise our clients to focus on what is important to their guests rather than solely on what is important to the ratings organizations.  Obviously there must be a balance between these two priorities. Since they are seldom mutually exclusive, it is usually possible to achieve a practical compromise.  The final decision is almost always based on financial considerations.

There is more than one way to address this problem and resort operators should explore as many options as possible, and many choose to seek outside help and advice. 

Harry Nobles & Cheryl 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: Are Your Trainers Trained? / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Thompson Grigg /  January 2004 
The Language of Service / Cheryl Griggs / October 2003
Hotel Renovation Ideas vs AAA Ratings Criteria / Harry Nobles / October 2003
New Employee Orientation: Necessity or Luxury?  /  July 2003
Save the Best - Replace the Rest / July 2003
AAA and Mobil Ratings As a Sales Tool / May 2003
How Well Do You Know Your Competitor? / May 2003
Our Favorite Hotel?  / March 2003
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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