AAA evaluates lodgings on a scale of One to Five Diamonds, from budget-oriented hotels and motels offering basic accommodations to luxurious hotels and resorts offering extensive services and amenities — all with acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality.
Recently, we sat down with a AAA Diamond inspector who is in charge of evaluating properties and restaurants in Arizona, on what it’s like to inspect hundreds of properties every year. Here is what he had to say:
How long have you been an inspector and what is your background?
I just celebrated my third anniversary with AAA. Previously, I worked in the hospitality industry for over 15 years with several companies including Four Seasons, Rosewood and Omni Hotels. I also was the owner of a small café and wine shop.
What does a typical day consist of?
The day starts with mapping out the areas I plan on covering, and then researching any new restaurants that may have opened in that area. I try to visit at least three hotels and one restaurant daily, and maybe an attraction if necessary. Then in the evening it’s all about paperwork.
What’s the one thing members would be most surprised to learn about inspections?
People are always surprised to learn how many properties I visit. On average, an inspector will visit nearly 900 hotels, restaurants and attractions annually, approving only those that pass a rigorous on-site inspection with excellent housekeeping and physical quality being a key member-driven requirement. When you take into consideration all the travel time and the writing that’s involved, it definitely keeps us very busy.
What do you see as trends in the hospitality industry?
Green initiatives are becoming increasingly popular, and many major hotel companies now participate in a variety of programs. One that I have noticed taking off recently is the use of bath amenity dispensers, even in the higher end properties. Guests can now find upscale shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel in handy wall mounted dispensers, and hotels can eliminate thousands of half-used plastic bottles and bars of soap. Reducing costs and cutting waste have become important trends, and hopefully we will see these trends continue.
What do you love most — and least — about your job?
Love most: Traveling, discovering the latest and greatest restaurants, and meeting new people every day.
Love least: Paperwork.
There are more than 31,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels across the country. The AAA Diamond Rating Process is the only hotel and restaurant rating system that covers the entire United States and Canada as well as top destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. To learn more, visit az.aaa.com/travel/aaadiamonds.
Linda Gorman is public affairs director for AAA Arizona. Reach her at (602) 650-2716.