Hotel Online  Special Report
5 Star vs 5 Diamond: 
What’s the Difference?

by Harry Nobles & Cheryl Griggs - November 2004

Mobil has just released its Five Star hotel ratings for 2005; AAA promptly followed with its 2005 Five Diamond nominations.  What  is the difference between a Mobil Five Star rating and the AAA Five Diamond award?  The more pertinent question might be “Is there a difference?”. 

There are some differences and also some similarities.  Both lists represent the absolute ultimate in hotel physical facilities, service, and atmosphere.  Another shared attribute is price; Five Star and Five Diamond hotels are among the world’s most expensive accommodations.  Room rates often exceed $500.00 a night; food, beverages, and other charges are equally costly.  After all, these are not “overnight stops”; rather they are destinations for well heeled pleasure seekers and/or business travelers on a generous expense account.

Both organizations base the ultimate rating on an unscheduled and anonymous overnight experience and detailed evaluation of the property.  AAA’s inspection staff is comprised of approximately 60 full-time “Tourism Editors” who inspect and rate all AAA approved lodgings.  The Mobil Five Star decision makers  are a much smaller group and tend to focus on current Five Star recipients and those with aspirations and potential for the top rating,  while a field staff visits and inspects the lower rated properties.

The number of Five Star and Five Diamond rated hotels caught our attention; Mobil awarded the top rating to 31 of approximately 9000 lodgings in the U.S. and Canada.  AAA evaluated more than 31,000 hotels and rated 85 at the Five Diamond level.  Of the 85 Five Diamond hotels, Mobil awarded the Five Star rating to 28.  AAA gave the Five Diamond rating to 24 of the 31 Mobil Five Star hotels.  What do these statistics tell us about the two rating organizations?

We can see that despite some differences in methodology and philosophy, the final results are quite similar. 

Is one award better than the other?   We think not; both awards recognize the best lodgings in North America and both are prestigious, prized by the industry, and trusted by the traveling public.  Neither system is perfect, but they are credible.


Harry Nobles Hospitality Consulting
POC:  Harry Nobles
Toll Free: 800 750 5666

Also See: Strategic Alliance Announced, Committed to Hospitality Excellence / August 2004
Family Resorts: Suggested Strategies / Cheryl Griggs / July 2004
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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