A handful of East Valley hotels and restaurants achieved four stars in the Mobil Travel Guide’s annual ratings, identifying them as among the nation’s top places for services and quality. But for the second straight year, the Valley failed to land a five-star rating.
The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North and its companion restaurant, Acacia, received four stars as did The Phoenician and one of its restaurants, Mary Elaine’s, according to the ratings for the 2005 guide.
“We cherish these ratings. It is a really great marketing tool. It’s very important to the staff in terms of pride and morale to achieve such a high award,” said Tom Kelly, Troon North’s general manager.
Since 1958, the Mobil Travel Guide has identified restaurants and lodgings across the country for top-tier service and amenities, with high achievers winning either four or five stars. The Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix and The Boulders Resort and Golden Door in Carefree were the only other hoteliers in Arizona to receive a four-star ranking and among only 117 hoteliers across the country to be recognized with the award.
After almost a decade with five stars, The Phoenician was first given a four-star ranking in the 2003 travel guide while Mary Elaine’s dropped to a four-star rating a year later.
The Beverly Hills Hotel, the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, as well as New York’s St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton were among hotels to receive a five-star rating.
This year marked the first time any Hawaiian or Alaskan lodging or restaurant was assessed for inclusion in the travel guide.
Shane O’Flaherty, vice president for quality assurance for the Chicago-based travel guide, said there’s a fine distinction between the two rating levels, with much of the difference centering on the fulfillment and anticipation of a guest’s needs.
For example, at a five-star hotel, the delivery of room service would be more than dropping off a meal. It might also entail a server pouring wine or coffee, setting up a table with the entrees and pulling out chairs for the guests.
“For the consumer, it’s really just about having a flawless experience,” O’Flaherty said of five-star service. It’s the five-star ranking that Kelly hopes Troon will achieve next year.
“That is a very exclusive club. There are only 31 of them in the country currently. We are already among the best, but that’s really being among the elite,” Kelly said.
Kelly hopes an $18 million investment in Troon, which includes additional meeting space, luxury board rooms, another ballroom and a family-oriented pool and teen center, will help put them over the top next year.
But he and other Valley hoteliers never know when their hotel is being evaluated or which guest might be working for the Mobil travel guide.
“They always do it incognito. Otherwise, it’s really not done on an objective basis. That’s the real way to do the testing,” Kelly said.
Mark Vinciguerra, The Phoenician’s managing director, said he and his employees were “thrilled” with the results, but that they continue to focus on staff training and high-quality service.
In addition to Mary Elaine’s and Acacia, the Golden Swan at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch achieved a four-star rating, as did The Ventana Room at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson. Those restaurants were among 140 eateries across the nation to receive four stars, while just 14 restaurants achieved five stars.
The Golden Swan recently underwent a change and opened as Vu in October.