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Reaching for the Stars

August 01, 2000

Hotel ratings in the United States are undertaken by a handful of private organizations. Two of the most well known are the Mobil Travel Guide and the American Automobile Assn. Mobil's widely recognized one- to five-star rating system has been in use for more than 40 years. The St. Regis Hotel in New York City, namesake of the new St. Regis to open in Century City next month, is one of only 24 five-star hotels in the U.S. this year. Here is a look at what the Mobil Travel Guide experts look for in rating a hotel a four- or five-star property:

HHHH: Properties are uniquely designed, creatively decorated, superbly maintained and have their own style. There is 24-hour front- and bell-desk service. Staff members are discreet. Guests are recognized by name and escorted to their room. The room is spacious with quality appointments and may have an outstanding view. Rooms have multiple phones, data ports and other amenities. A gift may be present for the guest. Furnishings are of quality design, with many custom-designed accents. Valet services are available 24 hours a day. A choice of complimentary newspapers is offered. The concierge desk is adequately staffed. Twenty-four-hour room service is available. Two restaurants should be available.

HHHHH: In addition to the amenities offered at a four-star property, five-star hotels are "superb in every respect." Properties are luxurious and among the best in North America. Exteriors are immaculate, with professionally planned and developed grounds. Rooms have a sense of elegance with quality products and amenities. Furnishings may be custom designed. Housekeeping is impeccable. Public areas present an aura of elegance. Concierge service is available 24 hours a day. Concierge staff are creative in handling requests. Twenty-four-hour room service is available and caters to virtually any culinary request. There is attention to detail and personal recognition of guest needs.

Only five hotels in California have achieved the Mobil Five-Star rating:

* The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows, Beverly Hills

* The Peninsula, Beverly Hills

* Chateau du Sureau, Oakhurst

* L'Ermitage, Beverly Hills

* Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco

Source: Mobil Travel Guide Web site

Researched by NONA YATES/Los Angeles Times

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