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Travel Guide's Undercover 'Guests' Take Quite a Shine to the Ritz-Carlton : HOTELS/TOURISM

December 29, 1987|Mary Ann Galante, Times staff writer

Some impressive stars have come to Orange County--and the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel has more than anyone.

But you won't find the stars listed on a marquee.

Instead, the stars will be listed in the 1988 Mobil Travel Guide, which ranks hotels on a one- to five-star basis.

Leading the local roster is the Ritz-Carlton, which has been singled out as Orange County's only Five-Star hotel for the second consecutive year. The rating is based on comments by undercover "guests" who inspected every nook and cranny of the Ritz, then judged it on service, facilities, cleanliness, and quality of food.

Mobil will officially announce its rankings next Tuesday. At least half a dozen Orange County hotels will receive the next-best, Four-Star rating from Mobil, industry sources said.

The Mobil rankings come just after the recent announcement of the American Automobile Assn.'s Diamond designations. Those designations will be listed in the 1988 California-Nevada Tourbook that is available to AAA and Auto Club members.

On the Auto Club list, the Ritz-Carlton again is the only Orange County hotel that will receive the highest honor--the Five Diamond Award.

Eleven Orange County hotels earned the Four-Diamond Award. But two others--the Disneyland Hotel and the Conestoga, both in Anaheim--have been downgraded from Four-Diamond to Three-Diamond status.

The Conestoga's general manager, William Feenan, said it is the Auto Club that has changed its standards--not his 254-room hotel. "Every year, the Auto Club surveys new hotels, and that becomes their standard," he said.

Feenan said a hotel can lose its Four-Star rating if it lacks the latest conveniences--such as ceramic (not fiberglass) bathtubs, and TV sets that are concealed in armoires, not sitting on top of dressers.

Even so, the Conestoga's Three-Star rating could cost "maybe one to two percentage points" from the 80% occupancy average it reached in 1987, he said.

Disneyland Hotel officials could not be reached for comment.

The 11 hotels with Four-Diamond status are the Anaheim Hilton & Towers, the Anaheim Marriott Hotel, the Westin South Coast Plaza, Irvine Hilton & Towers, Irvine Marriott Hotel, the Registry Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel, Hotel Meridien-Newport Beach, Newport Beach Marriott Hotel, Double Tree Hotel in Orange and the Grand Plaza Hotel in Santa Ana.

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