AAA liberally sprinkled diamonds over the West in its 2002 list of top hotels and restaurants, announced last week.
For the first time, Las Vegas restaurants broke into the ranks of five diamonds, the highest AAA category, with Picasso at the Bellagio and Renoir at the Mirage. The Bellagio resort also made the five-diamond list for the first time; at 3,005 rooms, it is the largest hotel in that elite group, said AAA spokeswoman Janie Graziani. The other Las Vegas member is the Four Seasons.
Also added to the list were the Beverly Hills Hotel, Raffles L'Ermitage Beverly Hills and the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles near Beverly Hills. California, with a total of 11 five-diamond lodgings, has more than twice as many as any other state. By contrast, Hawaii was down to three listed hotels after the Halekulani and the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hawaii, both in Honolulu, dropped to four diamonds.
Among California restaurants, long-listed L'Orangerie in West Hollywood dropped to four diamonds, but the addition of Charles Nob Hill in San Francisco kept the California total to five restaurants with the highest ranking, the same as in 2001.
In New York, the addition of Alain Ducasse at the Essex House gave the city, and the state, a total of six five-diamond restaurants, tying Illinois for top place.