AAA REPORT: Undercover Inspectors Release Their Final Review of More Than 31,000 Restaurants

By  //  March 5, 2018

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Disney's Victoria & Albert's rated Five Diamonds

ABOVE VIDEO: Enjoy an inside peek at the leading-edge restaurants added this year to AAA’s Five Diamond list.

AAA’s anonymous inspectors have experienced all the horror stories of dining out, from being served food that hit the floor to find a hair in their hamburger. Yet, the only places that make it on AAA’s Diamond Lists are the ones that meet a rigorous set of standards.

AAA has a consumer-friendly rating system for restaurants and hotels that is unlike anything else in the industry,” said Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Development, AAA – The Auto Club Group.

“Our professionally-trained inspectors conduct unannounced, on-site evaluations every year. Properties are rated from One to Five Diamonds, based on the dining experience; which can range from a simple sandwich shop to a swanky 7-course meal. However, if quality or cleanliness is in question, the restaurant will not make the list at all.”

Click here to search “Diamond Rated” restaurants.

Defining Diamonds

To qualify, restaurants must first meet a list of common-sense standards for cleanliness, management, and appearance. Once approved, inspectors will complete a surprise inspection and assign a rating of One to Five Diamonds. Diamonds help define the dining experience a guest should expect. Review the Rating Guidelines

  • One Diamond – Quick-Serve
  • Two Diamonds – Casual
  • Three Diamonds – Trendy
  • Four Diamonds – Distinctive
  • Five Diamonds – Leading-Edge

Finding Diamonds

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA’s trip planning products:

2018 Five Diamond Award Winners

ABOVE VIDEO: Eight restaurants join AAA’s exclusive Five Diamond Restaurants list for 2018.

Last year, more than 31,000 restaurants in North America, Mexico and the Caribbean received a Diamond rating by AAA. On Wednesday, AAA announced the recipients of its coveted Five Diamond Awards. Of the 68 restaurants on the Five Diamond list, three of them are in Florida.  View the list

“It is no small feat to be named a AAA Five Diamond restaurant. Receiving this rating is a rare honor that signifies the highest-quality flavors and innovative presentations, with personalized service in memorable surroundings,” added Evans.

Restaurants receiving a Five Diamond Rating undergo a number of checks and balances including multiple unannounced evaluations and a final decision by a panel of experts to ensure credibility.

Diamond Stats

  • Total number of restaurants inspected and approved by AAA everyyear – 31,000
  • Inspection region: United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean
  • Five Diamond establishments in Florida – 10 hotels and 3 restaurants
  • Four Diamond establishments in Florida – 145 hotels and 54 restaurants (second-most in the nation)
  • Total number of AAA Five Diamond Restaurants – 68
  • Total number of AAA Four Diamond Restaurants – 665

Five Diamond Award Recipients in Florida

Victoria & Albert’s is Disney’s finest restaurant with luxurious, intimate surroundings that complement the personalized service and extensive wine list. The dinner menu offers an ever-changing culinary adventure through 10 exquisite courses. This is a long dinner of 3-4 hours or more, so settle into the classically styled plush dining room and be soothed by the gentle sound of a live harpist.

  • Palme d’Or – Coral Gables.  Classic Historic. Talented, award-winning chef Gregory Pugin and staff prepare outstanding, modern French cuisine. Located in a renowned hotel, the dining room is one of elegance, with frescoes painted on the ceilings and crystal chandeliers.
  • Salt – Fernandina Beach.  Elegant ocean views and a stylish motif enhance a casual, yet refined experience. Each menu features local and globally sourced ingredients; prime meats, organic and heirloom vegetables are all artfully prepared. The beverage selection is extensive and reasonably priced with over 300 wines.
  • Victoria & Albert’s – Lake Buena Vista.  This is Disney’s finest restaurant with luxurious, intimate surroundings that complement the personalized service and extensive wine list. The dinner menu offers an ever-changing culinary adventure through 10 exquisite courses. In addition to the main dining room, the Chef’s Table, which is located in the kitchen, and the smaller Queen Victoria Room are both available for dining. This is a long dinner of 3-4 hours or more, so settle into the classically styled plush dining room and be soothed by the gentle sound of a live harpist.

Four Diamond Award Winners

AAA Four Diamond restaurants are also an exclusive group, offering distinctive, creatively prepared cuisine, skillfully served in a notable environment. Only 2.1 percent of AAA Inspected & Approved restaurants – 665 – made the Four Diamond list for 2018, including 54 in Florida. View the list

VIDEO: State of Florida Home to 155 of AAA’s Highest Rated Hotels in North AmericaRelated Story:
VIDEO: State of Florida Home to 155 of AAA’s Highest Rated Hotels in North America

About AAA Inspections

For more than 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. AAA offers the only rating system using comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities.

With a far greater inventory than any other rating entity, AAA’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile app, the online AAA Travel Guides and Travel Planner and the AAA TourBook guides available to members at AAA offices.

AAA began field inspections of lodgings and restaurants in 1937, then went to a formal rating system in 1963 that in 1976 evolved into the Diamond Rating system for lodgings. (The Diamond Ratings for restaurants started in 1985.)

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About the Inspectors

The AAA inspectors who assign Diamond Ratings have a wide range of hospitality experience – their resumes include experience as hotel managers and food and beverage experts – that gives them an authoritative perspective. Inspectors provide an unmatched first-person, on-site view of emerging trends.

To see the complete lists of 2018 AAA Four and Five Diamond restaurants, visit AAA.com/DiamondAwards. To see which cities and states have the most award winners, see AAA Four and Five Diamond Restaurant Facts.

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