AAA Diamond Program Gets Overhaul

ORLANDO, FL—AAA has unveiled a transformed, modernized version of its AAA Diamond Program. The program will remain backed by professionally trained inspectors using member-driven criteria to recommend only clean, comfortable, hospitable hotels and restaurants. What is new? It is replacing ratings with designations. A Diamond designation reflects AAA’s professional inspector reviews using updated, member-centric guidelines, setting the program apart from services that leverage unverified, often biased hotel and restaurant ratings, according to the company.

“We’ve transformed the AAA Diamond Program to help travelers better understand the overall quality, range of facilities and level of services offered by a property,” said Stacey Barber, executive director, AAA Travel Information & Content. “Unlike ratings from unknown users sharing their opinions, the Diamond designations are provided by experienced professionals using consistent guidelines to tell travelers what a property offers.”

Under the new system, previously one- and two-Diamond hotels and restaurants will transition to the approved designation while three-, four- and five-Diamond establishments will retain their designations. However, the 2020 inspection cycle will be the determining factor for all properties’ future designation, according to the company.

The modernized AAA Diamond Program guidelines for hotels and restaurants reflect the latest in traveler expectations and industry trends. AAA has removed outdated criteria in favor of factors that more directly relate to guest comfort, design and layout. For example, AAA inspectors will now look for sufficient storage space and shelving for clothes and personal belongings in guest rooms, and not for ironing boards or printed guest information, to reflect modern guest expectations.

The AAA Diamond Program comprises nearly 60,000 properties in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, including nearly 27,000 hotels and more than 30,000 restaurants. To be included in the AAA Diamond Program, properties must pass an unannounced, on-site evaluation. Hotels must provide acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and restaurants must meet requirements for cleanliness, food preparation and service.

“Only the best hotels and restaurants are included in AAA’s Diamond Program—professional inspectors eliminate substandard places from consideration as a service to our members. For more than 80 years, travelers have relied on AAA’s trusted recommendations, and these latest changes only strengthen AAA as a go-to source for relevant information and advice for all trip planning needs,” added Barber.

While AAA recommends only good options for its members and travelers, additional Diamonds indicate more elaborate surroundings and attention from service staff, according to the company. Here is a breakdown of what travelers can expect at each Diamond designation.

Diamond Hotels
AAA Diamond designations for hotels represent the overall quality, range of facilities and level of hospitality offered.

Approved – 28%
Noteworthy by meeting the industry-leading standards of AAA inspections

Three Diamond – 63%
Comprehensive amenities, style and comfort level

Four Diamond – 6.5%
Upscale style and amenities enhanced with the right touch of service

Five Diamond – 0.4%
World-class luxury, amenities and indulgence for a once-in-a-lifetime experience

Diamond Restaurants
AAA Diamond designations for restaurants represent the overall food, service and vibe offered.

Approved – 71%
Noteworthy by meeting the industry-leading standards of AAA inspections

Three Diamond – 26%
Trendy food skillfully presented in a remarkable setting

Four Diamond – 2.3%
Distinctive fine dining, well-served amid upscale ambience

Five Diamond – 0.2%
Leading-edge cuisine, ingredients and preparation with extraordinary service and surroundings