By LISA MONTI
Earning the AAA Four Diamond Award is a high honor for hotels and restaurants. Winning the award year after year takes hard work and vigilance to maintain the standards the leisure travel organization uses to rate and recognize the properties.
Only 3.9 percent of the more than 58,000 hotels and restaurants inspected by AAA win the honor. This year AAA presented its Four Diamond rating to seven hotels and five restaurants in Mississippi. All have won the award for several consecutive years.
The award-winning hotels are upscale, stylish and refined, according to AAA, and their guests can expect personal service from an experienced staff along with “an extensive array of amenities in a luxurious setting.” Four Diamond Award-winning hotels make up just 5.7 percent of the 28,500 AAA approved hotels.
The 2016 winning hotels include four casino properties in Biloxi: Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, IP Casino Resort Spa and Palace Casino Resort Hotel. The Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood, Fairview Inn in Jackson and Monmouth Historic Inn in Natchez also received the Four Diamond Award.
Award-winning restaurants offer fine dining from creative chefs who use quality ingredients for their imaginative menus. Expert service by the staff also is required at the Four Diamond level.
The Mississippi restaurants receiving the Four Diamond Award are Beau Rivage’s BR Prime and Jia; IP’s thirty-two and Tien; and Purple Parrot Cafe in Hattiesburg.
Earning the award brings customers as well as bragging rights.
Jeff Segan, who oversees all of Beau Rivage’s resort amenities including the hotel and food and beverage operations, said, “People make their choices based upon information they have, and when they see the Four Diamond Award they see a clean, safe, well-maintained property with great customer service and a friendly staff.”
Segan said Beau Rivage strives to maintain its award winning level of service every day with “a lot of Southern hospitality.”
He said, “It takes a lot of hard work and training on the service side. Beau Rivage has individuals who do a great job in hiring, and we have a great culture. If people enjoy where they work, you can feel it. We work very hard and are very proud to maintain that image. ”
Among regional properties, Segan said, Beau Rivage is known for repeat business. “People have choices in this town and we strive to do a great job so they want to come back here.”
The award helps to attract new business and it also creates repeat business. “It’s an award that is very important to help you get the first time guests but you have to perform” to keep guests coming back, he said.
Monmouth Historic Inn has earned a Four Diamond rating every year since 1981. Nancy Reuther, the owner and general manager, said, “I feel that it really gives our guests confidence that there will be no surprises. It gives us a good seal of approval. It’s exciting to win, and to have it that many years is pretty special.”
AAA’s professional inspectors don’t announce their annual visits, so properties can never let their guard down. “They don’t give you advance warning but they have asked some questions while they were here. Mostly it’s done on their own,” she said.
Reuther said Monmouth is a special place to guests. “Some of our guests come here over and over again. We have one couple that has been coming to Monmouth from Texas at least twice a year since 1983.”
Maintaining a national historic landmark to AAA standards is a special challenge. The main house was built in 1818, and the gardens need tending year round. “There are so many things here that we have to keep up with. It’s like having children,” she said. “You do what you need to do and that includes many things guests don’t ever see.”
She said the award designation is displayed in the hotel registration area, on the website and other signage. “It means a lot so we put it on everything,” Reuther said.
Palace Casino general manager Keith Crosby said, “We’re extremely proud the Palace Casino Resort was recognized for the 10th time by the American Automobile Association as a Four Diamond Award hotel. This prestigious award recognizes our staff’s commitment to providing superior guest service and maintaining clean, high quality hotel accommodations.”
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