Rancho Bernardo Inn Longest Continuously Rated AAA Four Diamond Hotel in So. Calif.

The Rancho Bernardo Inn in north San Diego County marks more than 35 years as a AAA Four Diamond hotel this year, making it the longest continuously rated AAA Four Diamond hotel in Southern California. It was first rated in 1977 for the 1978 AAA TourBook®.  It’s also one of the longest continuously rated properties nationally and internationally as well.
The Rancho Bernardo Inn is one of 85 Southern California hotels and 37 restaurants that earned the 2012 AAA Four Diamond Award® announced earlier this year by the Automobile Club of Southern California. 
It is one of the top luxury resorts in Southern California.  The Auto Club honored the Rancho Bernardo Inn for its decades of quality with an “Award of Excellence” presented to the inn located at 17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive.
Only the Silverado Resort and Spa (1976) in Napa and the Hilton San Francisco Union Square (1976) have been rated longer in California.  Travelers need to look across the U.S. to Colorado’s Lost Valley Ranch (1976) and Brown Palace Hotel and Spa (1976), Maine’s Stage Neck Inn (1976), New York’s The Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel, (1976) and Wisconsin’s The Pfister Hotel for properties that pre-date the Rancho Bernardo Inn for continuously upholding AAA Four Diamond rating standards for decades.
Internationally, only The Westin Prince Toronto (1976), and Quebec’s Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac (1976), boast a longer tenure.  Mexico City’s Sheraton Maria Isabel Hotel & Towers (1977) is tied with the Rancho Bernardo Inn in tenure as a AAA Four Diamond property. 
AAA’s Diamond rating program is the only hotel and restaurant review system in the nation that uses specially trained full-time field representatives. As part of AAA’s national network, the Auto Club’s own staff reviews establishments in Southern California without prior notification using objective and detailed rating procedures.
AAA Four Diamond lodgings are upscale in all areas. Criteria for rating at this level include: “progressively more refined and stylish. Physical attributes reflect enhanced quality throughout. Fundamental hallmarks include extensive amenities and a high degree of hospitality, service and attention to detail,” according to AAA. 
“We’re proud to recognize and applaud the Rancho Bernardo Inn in 2012 as the longest continuously rated AAA Four Diamond rated hotel in Southern California.  The inn’s employees provide their guests -- from local couples and families to out of town visitors -- very personalized service in a beautiful environment,” said the Auto Club’s Approved Accommodations Supervisor Patricia Marenco.  
The Rancho Bernardo Inn is set at the end of a north county residential area on 265 acres.  It is noted for its scenic surroundings, country club and 18-hole championship golf course with panoramic views, which has hosted the PGA and LPGA events.  Also located on the grounds, are a tennis center, spa, pool, imported fountains and award-winning El Bizcocho Italian restaurant. 
The 44-year-old iconic restaurant, rated as an outstanding AAA Four Diamond dining location, is undergoing a $2.5 million renovation and is expected to reopen in early 2013 with the new name “Avant.”  The name Avant means culturally or stylistically advanced.  A new menu will add smaller plate options in a new great room that features floor to ceiling glass windows with golf-course views and a porch.  Menu items will be sourced from local purveyors and the inn’s own garden. (The new restaurant will undergo the AAA Diamond rating process again.)
The inn opened in the late 1960s and went through its own most recent renovation in 2007.  The surroundings, location and name reflect its rustic California-Spanish style.  From the AAA TourBook®, “This inviting resort is reminiscent of a country estate and offers spacious lodgings ranging from standard guest rooms to plush suites.  Unique fountains and beautiful views abound here as well.”
Auto Club Diamond rating inspectors say that at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, “everything in the interiors is upscale, lots of stone, woods (and) high-quality materials.  The grounds offer plenty of space to roam and explore.  Rooms are most spacious and very comfortably furnished – once again with high-quality materials.”
They also say that guests find that inn staff is very welcoming, professional, and follow through with guest needs.  In addition to outstanding service, the inn is known for its seasonal puzzles set out in the lobby for guests to work on at their leisure.
The coveted AAA Four Diamond Award is presented to hotel and restaurant general managers and executive chefs to recognize the award-winning properties, which rank among the top 3.8 percent of  59,000 hotels and restaurants inspected by AAA and the Auto Club, the nation’s largest AAA affiliate.
“The Automobile Club of Southern California has been an integral part of the Southland’s fabric for 112 years, and we’re delighted to be such a long-standing AAA Four Diamond member,” said Rancho Bernardo Inn General Manager John Gates. “Our amazing staff is the reason we’re recognized with Four Diamonds, year after year.  We’re looking forward to another 35 years!”
AAA rates more properties than any other rating entity and is the only rating system that covers the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. It is one of only two that conduct physical, on-site evaluations.
Lodging inspections include at least one unannounced inspection each year. Inspectors review and rate exterior, grounds and public areas, room décor, ambiance and amenities, guest room, bathrooms, housekeeping and maintenance, management and staff and guest services. Once the inspection process is complete, properties that meet all requirements receive a rating of one to five Diamonds.
AAA approves and rates more than 59,000 lodgings and restaurants each year throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.  AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotel and restaurant listings can be found in the AAA TourBook® guides available at AAA and CAA branches across the continent. They can be accessed online at AAA.com/Travel and through downloadable eTourBookSM guides at AAA.com/ebooks. Smartphone users can locate Diamond-rated establishments using the free AAA TripTik® Mobile app or AAA Mobile Web at AAA.com/mobile.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest member of the AAA federation of motor clubs, has been serving members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club’s members benefit by roadside assistance, auto, home and life insurance products and services, exclusive member discount programs, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club’s Web site at www.AAA.com.

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Elaine Beno
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