Six of Kentucky’s hotels have garnered the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award 2010 for outstanding service, amenities and attention to detail.
The award winners are: The Cincinnati Marriott at RiverCenter (Covington), Griffin Gate Marriott Resort (Lexington), 21c Museum Hotel (Louisville), The Brown Hotel (Louisville), The Seelbach Hilton (Louisville) and the Marriott Louisville Downtown.
These hotels are among the finest in the country as measured by the AAA Diamond Rating Process, the premier hotel rating program in North America.
It’s a well-respected rating system of the member-driven AAA (formerly the American Automobile Association) travel, dining and insurance company. The Diamond Ratings help members decide the type of lodging experience that best fits their travel needs, and 32,000 hotels throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean have been rated in the five-tiered AAA system.
“It gives the customer a level of confidence that you have a high service level, and that you are going to get a great experience,” said Jon McFarland, general manager of The Seelbach.
The ratings are based on member feedback and the work of professional evaluators who assess hotels on a 27-point system. And every rated hotel must meet basic quality standards related to comfort, hospitality and cleanliness.
Though the hotel industry has faced a slump like most other sectors of the economy, these hotels have weathered the economic storm. And general managers of the Four Diamond hotels said things are looking up this year.
“We believe 2010 shows a lot of promise with upcoming events like the Breeder’s Cup. We look forward to see many new faces as well as the return of many loyal guests,” said Guy Genoud, assistant general manager of The Brown.
21c General Manager Clare Evans agreed: “We’ve already witnessed a much bigger pickup as of last quarter. We ended last year ahead of ‘08, and we are predicting growth this year over last.”
Now, take a closer look at the award winners:
21c Museum Hotel (21chotel.com) is an innovative mix of lodging and art. The 90-room boutique hotel in downtown Louisville features an art museum and award-winning restaurant Proof on Main. The art doesn’t stop in the museum – works are scattered throughout the hotel and in the rooms. 21c is the only American museum dedicated exclusively to 21st-century art.
Besides the unique accommodations, the 21c approach to service also sets it apart.
The hotel didn’t take too much of a hit during the economic downtown, Evans said, and has found a balance among varied travelers that keeps business brisk.
“With our strong focus on art and the museum, we’re very fortunate to have a mix of corporate and leisure travelers,” Evans said. “What is so wonderful with art is that it’s drawing people as a destination in itself.”
The Brown Hotel (brownhotel.com) is one of Louisville’s historic hotels, styled in classic English Renaissance architecture marked by a two-story lobby with a hand-painted ceiling, marble floors and carved mahogany furnishings. The Brown is often the landing place for people after a night at the adjacent Brown Theatre or Palace Theatre.
The Brown continually looks to improve service, a key to Four Diamond success, said assistant General Manager Genoud.
“Although we pride ourselves on having the very best accommodations and amenities, we continue to work tirelessly to improve them. We try to anticipate the needs of our guests and strive to exceed their expectations,”
The Seelbach Hilton is a study in contrasts (seelbachhilton.com), describing itself as a place “where European Charm Meets Southern Hospitality” and which houses “Historical Elegance with Today’s Modern Necessities.” The hotel, built in 1905, is home to a Five Diamond restaurant, The Oakroom. Recently, this historic hotel (on the National Register of Historic Places) underwent a $12 million renovation, adding new furnishings, lighting and carpeting along with 37-inch high definition televisions and high-speed Internet access.
“There was not a single upgrade made to The Seelbach Hilton without painstaking attention to detail and the highest respect for the hotel’s historic integrity,” Jon McFarland, general manager, said of the renovation. “We knew we were going to polish the building’s façade but were not sure what to do about the weather-worn original windows. We consulted with local historical boards and were easily convinced that restoring the windows, rather than replacing them was best.”
The hotel’s improvements coincide with an improvement in the hotel’s business, and McFarland sees a bright 2010.
“We have seen an uptick in the individual travel bookings, but we’re also seeing the group business coming back. It appears at this point we are going to have a better year in 2010,” he said.
Though Louisville Marriott Downtown, Cincinnati Marriott at RiverCenter and Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa all are Marriots, each hotel has its distinct service and style that sets it apart from other hotels.
The 591-room Louisville Marriott Downtown (marriott.com/hotels/travel/
sdflm-louisville-marriott-downtown), has 25 suites and 20 meeting rooms. The hotel has two restaurants, Italian and American, and a Starbucks coffeehouse.
It’s near Churchill Downs, picturesque Waterfront Park and Fourth Street Live.
The hotel has two floors of concierge rooms, with a lounge and VIP services.
The Louisville Marriott was the 2005 winner of Marriott’s Full-Service Hotel Opening of the Year, and that set the bar for excellent service, said General Manager Michael Howerton.
“The motto of hotel was identified as ‘Keep ’em Smiling,’ and it is really the focus for everyone to walk out with a memorable experience and remember why they were in the hotel,” Howerton said.
The Cincinnati Marriott at RiverCenter (marriott.com/hotels/travel/ cvgdr-cincinnati-marriott-at-rivercenter) is actually along the riverfront in Covington.
The newly renovated hotel boasts great skyline views of downtown Cincinnati, and is just minutes from the Reds and Bengals professional sports stadiums. It also connects to the Northern Kentucky Convention Center by skywalk and is known as a premier destination spot for business and corporate events in the Greater Cincinnati area. The 10 West restaurant, café and lounge offer foods, drinks and coffee. The 14-floor hotel has 321 rooms, two concierge levels and 29 meeting rooms.
The Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa hotel (marriott.com/hotels/travel/lexky-
griffin-gate-marriott-resort-and-spa) in Lexington brings a bit of luxury and leisure to horse country. The Griffin Gate, which has also been newly renovated, has a full-service spa including facial and massage services and a steam room.
The seven-floor hotel has 388 rooms, 21 suites and five concierge levels.
There’s a Rees Jones-designed 18-hole golf course, and babysitting services as well.