AAA Diamond Ratings

Decoding the AAA Diamond Ratings System

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Ever wonder how the hotel rating system works? Is there really a difference between Two Diamond and Three Diamond hotels? Is a Five Diamond hotel worth the money? Decoding the AAA rating system can help you figure out how to get the most for your money.

What Hotels Are Rated?

AAA rates hotels in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Hotels do not pay to be included in the ratings but can apply for a rating. To become AAA Approved, the hotel must first meet 27 basic requirements, covering comfort, cleanliness, and safety.

If the hotel is approved, AAA sends out anonymous raters to evaluate the hotel and assign a diamond rating from one to five. At present count, about 32,000 hotels are AAA Diamond rated.

What if the Hotel is Not Rated? Is That Bad?

Hotels that are approved but not rated by AAA appear with an FYI symbol instead of a Diamond rating. This may not be bad news; the hotel may be too new to be rated yet or may be undergoing a major renovation. However, it could possibly mean the hotel did not reach the criteria for an AAA Diamond rating.

Does the Diamond Rating Effect the Room Rates?

Sometimes, but not always. You can count on a One Diamond hotel is much less expensive than a Four Diamond hotel. Between the Two, Three, Four, and even Five Diamond hotels, however, there is a wide range of prices. A lower AAA Diamond rating does not by any means guarantee a lower room rate.

Four Diamond or Five Diamond—What's the Difference?

It is difficult to get an AAA Five Diamond rating—fewer than 100 hotels are on the list. The main difference is one of service. At a Five Diamond hotel, for instance, you'd expect to be greeted by name when you arrive and escorted to the front desk (and by just about every staff member after that), turndown service without having to request it (with fresh ice and perhaps a gift of chocolate) and a personalized wake-up call.

In general, the AAA Diamond rating system evaluates the service, amenities, and décor of each hotel. Here's an overview of what you can (generally) expect from each Diamond rating level, with example hotels pulled from around the Walt Disney World area:

AAA One Diamond

No-frills accommodations for the budget traveler:

  • Basic building and landscaping
  • Guest rooms with functional furniture, a wall-mounted TV, a clothes rack, a couple of bars of soap and a pack of tissues
  • Telephone, vending and ice machines
  • Examples: Motel 6 Orlando-Kissimmee Main Gate East

AAA Two Diamond

Still low-priced and low-frills, but with some added design and amenities

  • Good curb appeal, landscaping, and lighting in the parking lot; covered drive-up entry
  • Coordinated décor and furnishings with seating in the registration area
  • Sundries at the front desk
  • Food court, restaurant or at least continental breakfast
  • Guest rooms with inexpensive furniture, a TV in view (with remote), partially enclosed clothes rack, a vanity area outside of the bathroom, a couple of bars of soap and a box of tissues
  • Elevator, coin-op laundry, telephone, vending, ice machines
  • Examples: Disney's Pop Century Resort; Best Western Lakeside

    AAA Three Diamond

    More attention has been paid to style and décor, and amenities and services have been added:

    • Better curb appeal, landscaping, and lighting in the parking lot; porte-cochere entry
    • Carpet, wood or tile floors with accent rugs; more seating in the registration area; luggage carts
    • Small gift shop
    • Swimming pool, hot tub, and an exercise room
    • Full-service restaurant or food court (or an expanded continental breakfast) and a lounge
    • Larger guest rooms with coordinated furniture and décor, better bed linens, blackout drapes or shades, closet with hangers, TV on a credenza with remote and movie channels, coffee maker, two-line phone, video games, wall-mounted hair dryer, shampoo.

    AAA Four Diamond

    More attention has been paid to style and décor, and amenities and services have been added:

    • Excellent curb appeal, landscaping, and lighting in the parking lot; impressive architectural features; added security
    • Upscale décor and furniture; excellent quality flooring (marble, wood, granite, etc.); plenty of seating in a larger registration area; bell desk; better luggage carts
    • Upscale gift shop
    • Swimming pool with food served poolside, hot tub, steam room, exercise room with state-of-the-art equipment and lockers
    • At least one upscale, full-service restaurant and a lounge
    • Larger guest rooms with upscale or designer furniture and décor, excellent bed linens; comforters with duvet covers; closet with wood hangers; luggage racks; oversized desk; TV in a closed armoire; mini bar; iron and ironing board; marble or higher-grade tile bathrooms; upgraded shower heads; plush towels; free-standing hair dryer; makeup mirror; five-piece amenity set (shampoo, body lotion, etc.)

    AAA Five Diamond

    A much higher level of service is required for Five Diamond status, and the facilities must be quite luxurious; fewer than 100 hotels are on the list.

    • Stunning curb appeal and architectural features; extensive landscaping; valet parking
    • Antiques and paintings; live floral arrangements; highest quality flooring (polished marble, stone, distinctive tile); concierge area
    • Upscale shops
    • Swimming pool with attendants; full-service spa; exercise room with customized fitness programs
    • Multiple upscale full-service restaurants and a lounge
    • Elegantly appointed guest rooms with high-quality furniture; outstanding linens and comforters; triple sheeting; multiple pillow choices; lit closets with at least ten hangers; umbrella; robe and slippers; CD player with at least one CD; fax machine; separate shower; toilet in its own room; seven-piece amenity set