Canada shafted in CAA/AAA new hotel ratings? Maybe not, it seems....
Okay. Finally I'm starting to understand.
An item in USA Today by hotel expert Barbara De Lollis says The American Automobile Association has put out its list of five-diamond rated hotels in North America for 2011. There are 124 hotels on the list, she said. There are something like 20 in California, nine in Las Vegas and eight in New York City, she said. The state of Connecticut has two.
Yep, one. In this ENTIRE country, stretching from Newfoundland to the coasts of B.C., from Niagara Falls to Iqualuit, there is only ONE SINGLE HOTEL IN THIS ENTIRE COUNTRY that gets a top rating.
For the record, it's the Four Seasons in Whistler, (pictured at left in all her winter glory) and good for them. But just one for Canada?
Earlier, I wrote in this space that maybe the Americans were mad at us - again - and sent all their white-glove experts to wreak havoc on our tourism industry or that, perhaps our hotels just suck. I was joking for the most part but, apparently, and this is hard for a journalist to admit, I was wrong.
Ian Jack, the very helpful spokesman for the CAA, tells me it's a very thorough process to give out the five (and four and three and two and one-diamond) awards, and that there are six evaluators stationed in Canada.
"We're not being ignored," he said. "It's not like there's some guy down in New Mexico that makes it up."
Jack said there was only one Canadian five-diamond property last year, so we shouldn't feel too badly. He also pointed out Canada has 141 places in the 4-diamond category. That's 5.7 per cent of all Canadian properties with a 4-diamond rating; higher than the 3.9 per cent of all properties in the U.S.
"We'd like to see more five-diamond properties in Canada, sure," Jack told me. "I'm told a couple just missed."
I'd put a few of those on my personal list. The Wickaninnish in Tofino, B.C. is a marvel that consistently gets great reviews in the glossy travel magazines. Ditto for the historic and spectacular Auberge Saint Antoine in Quebec City (see photo at right) Both were in the four-diamond category and might have been in the near-five category.
The Hazelton Hotel in Toronto just the other day was named to travel writer Andrew Harper's top list for all the world, which is quite something. I didn't see it on the AAA/CAA list, which surprises me. But they might not have been open in time for the rating.
Anyway, in addition to performing well in the four-diamond hotel grouping, Jack said Canadian restaurants put up a strong showing, with six food places garnering five-diamonds. That's more than 10 per cent of the 55 handed out to restaurants in Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean, so obviously we're doing something right.
For the record, the six restaurants getting top awards from the AAA/CAA folks were Eden at the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, Lumiere in Vancouver, LeBaccara in Gatineau, Quebec, Nuances and Restaurant Toque in Montreal and Langdon Hall Dining Room & Terrace in Cambridge, Ontario, featured not long ago in a story in Star Travel by Noah Richler.
For the record, however, I gotta swallow my Ontario/Toronto pride and note that this is THREE restaurant awards for Quebec versus ONE for Ontario. And TWO for Montreal compared to ZERO for Toronto.
Wait 'til they hear about this in La Belle Province.