Hotel Online  Special Report
Family Resorts: Suggested Strategies

by Cheryl Griggs, July 26, 2004

Our recent article on AAA’s rating of smaller family-owned resorts obviously struck a responsive chord.  We received many emails and phone calls from resort operators and from the traveling public.  The majority of guests and travelers expressed agreement with our observations.  Most of the operators had questions about possible corrective action.  We tried to answer each inquiry individually, and hope these additional comments will be of benefit.
The most common question from resort operators was “Is there anything we can do while waiting for AAA to address this situation”?  There is no one simple answer as each property must deal with this within its own unique context.  In some cases this uniqueness can be turned into an 
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advantage.  We are often able to assist clients develop their own “signature concept”.  Not every resort can become a world class multifaceted operation with extensive recreation facilities; fortunately, not every guest wants this experience.  We suggest a property first determine what makes it unique, and look carefully and critically at what has contributed to its success.  Then management should determine what might be done to add to that by offering new products or services.   An integral part of this initial critique will be to consider how to improve on the current product.

Another suggestion we often offer is to look at affordable physical enhancements.  While it may not be possible to address all AAA “deficiencies”, it is usually possible to shorten the list.  A key element in this step is a careful prioritization to be sure expended funds reap the maximum reward; in other words, get the “most bang for the buck”  Some properties do this on their own; others seek outside professional advice.  Whatever course chosen, the goal is always to make the finished product more appealing to your guests, while possibly improving your AAA rating.

Perhaps the most important step in this entire process is getting your guests’ input.  Ask them what they like about your current product, and what they would like to see changed or added.  You will find that while some of their suggestions coincide with the AAA ratings requirements, there may also be some interesting deviations. 
For instance, your guests may tell you that an illuminated closet or special hangers for frilly garments are not at the top of their list. Once you know what your guests consider important you can weigh that against the specifics that AAA requires, and make an informed choice.  Sometimes the choice must be to defer a AAA rating  in the short term and focus on your guests’ more immediate desires.

We never advise a client to make any change solely to gain a rating advantage.  Guest satisfaction is always the reason you do everything.  After all, the loyalty of your repeat guests has made you successful in the past, and will do so in the future.  AAA, MOBIL, and other awards may help, but your guests  are always first.

Cheryl Griggs


Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting
POC:  Harry Nobles
Toll Free (877) 220-4260
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 Small Resorts Unfairly Treated by the AAA and Mobil Rating Criteria / July 2004
Designing For Optimum Global Ratings / Cheryl Griggs / June 2004
QualAsia Formed to Provide Authoritative Organization to Inspect and Evaluate Hotels Across Asia; Harry Nobles Appointed Chairman of New Asian Hotel Rating Service / May 2004
Validity of Online Hotel Ratings / Cheryl Griggs / April 2004
Resorts Ratings Redux / Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs / February 2004
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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