Hotel Online  Special Report
Does AAA Rate Resorts Fairly?

November 2000 - Is it fair to use the same rating criteria for resorts as for urban hotels?  Should a large resort complex with extensive recreation facilities be held to the same standard  as a 150-room  hotel located in a downtown area and contained in one building?

Should a rustic ski resort in a remote location be expected to have the same room  decor and furnishings as the urban hotel?  Should there be  more tolerance for the rustic ambience and natural surroundings?  Should more unpretentious decor and furnishings be acceptable?  Should a resort’s extensive recreational facilities offset some deficiencies in room size, decor style, and furnishings?   

The more complicated questions  might deal with the results rather than the process.  Would different standards adversely affect AAA’s goal of international consistency?  The current goal is to ensure that a particular rating in one area is consistent with that same rating nationwide.  For example, a 4-Diamond rated property in Vermont meets the same criteria as a 4-Diamond property in Texas or Canada.  In my opinion, this a valid goal and I hope it does not change. I have always believed that “regional” ratings would diminish  AAA’s credibility.

While AAA applies different classifications to different type properties, the basic physical requirements and criteria are very similar.  Service expectations vary some depending on the classification, and are defined as limited, moderate, and full service.  Resorts are classified as full service.  Should there be more lenient service expectations at a resort? Are some 4 or 5-Diamond services incompatible with the resort atmosphere?

How much leniency can be allowed without undermining  the integrity of AAA’s rating process?  My answer: Some judicious discretion by the inspector is appropriate, but always within the context of, and consistent with,  the AAA Diamond Ratings Guidelines. 

What can resorts do pending changes in AAA’s ratings criteria?  I advise clients to decide which is more important: getting a specific AAA rating or providing the services and facilities their guests want.  Since these are usually not mutually exclusive, many choose to pursue both goals.  This can be a wise choice if  the two goals are properly prioritized.  

Some thoughts about prioritizing these goals next month.


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: 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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