Ross Bridge Earn AAA's 4 Diamonds 03/17/2006
Publication: Birmingham Business Journal
Author: Tiffany Ray
The American Automobile Association has added a little shine to Alabama's developing profile as a travel destination with news that the state's newest luxury hotel, the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, has received the association's coveted four-diamond rating. It is only the third hotel in Alabama to earn the distinction.
On the heels of that news, AAA officials in Alabama say three Birmingham restaurants also have received the four-diamond rating: Ocean, Cafe DuPont and Frank Stitt's Highlands Bar & Grill.
Previously, Stitt's Bottega restaurant was the only Alabama eatery with a four-diamond rating, which it received last year.
"I think it says a lot, not just for Birmingham but for the entire state of Alabama," says Clay Ingram, a spokesman for AAA in Alabama.
"The process to be approved for a four-diamond facility, it's a very stringent process. It's done at the national level, and it's a very difficult level of achievement."
The state's latest four-diamond additions will be included in the AAA's 2007 tour book for Alabama, which will be published late this year, and listed on the association's Web site.
In its 2006 publications, AAA listed 1,086 four-diamond hotels and 739 four-diamond restaurants throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas.
Ratings, which run from one to five diamonds, are published annually. Five-diamond properties are exceedingly rare; the AAA lists only 150 - 88 hotels and 62 restaurants - throughout its coverage area.
Ingram notes AAA's Alabama office is not involved in the rating process. To maintain consistent standards, all evaluations are done on a national level; to ensure objectivity, the AAA does not charge a fee for rating properties.
Ross Bridge, which opened for business in August 2005, is the newest addition to the Retirement Systems of Alabama's network of luxury hotels and golf courses, an investment that is helping to fuel business and leisure travel within the state.
Of the two other four-diamond hotel properties in Alabama, one, the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa in Point Clear, also is an RSA property. The Wynfrey Hotel at Riverchase Galleria also has a four-diamond rating.
Bill Lang, a spokesman for PCH Hotels & Resorts Inc., which manages the RSA's hotel properties, says the Ross Bridge rating demonstrates "that we really are building quality products."
It's also a marketing boon for the new resort that Lang says will help encourage out-of-town business and leisure travelers to take a chance on Alabama and will also help attract locals to the facility.
Steve Miller, general manager of Ross Bridge, says the resort will tout the rating on its Web site and even on its letterhead.
"You know what you are getting in a four-diamond property," he says, "and a lot of people covet that level of service to make sure their meetings or their functions go smoothly."