The Montage Laguna Beach is perched above the breakers in Orange County. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)
The Montage Laguna Beach, a luxury hotel that opened in 2003 along the Orange County coast, has fallen from the AAA Five Diamond firmament. After two years on the widely followed roster of top-rated lodgings that is issued annually by AAA, the Montage does not appear on the 2011 list, which was released this week by AAA's local affiliate, the Automobile Club of Southern California.
Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club, said the Montage will appear on the Four Diamond list to be issued next week. He declined to comment on why the hotel had been moved to the lower rating because, he said, "the details about the inspection are proprietary." The hotel also declined to comment on its new rating.
In guidelines posted on its website, AAA says Five Diamonds are reserved for hotels that "reflect the characteristics of the ultimate in luxury and sophistication." Four Diamonds, it says, apply to hotels that are "upscale in all areas." The ratings, which AAA says are based on inspections, are published online and in the popular AAA TourBooks, which are used by vacationers on road trips.
The 2011 Five Diamond list for Southern California includes 16 hotels, all of them veterans of prior lists. They are L’Ermitage Beverly Hills; the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows; the Peninsula Beverly Hills; Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad; St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach, and the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, both in Dana Point; the Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla; Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills; the Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey; Island Hotel Newport Beach; the Resort at Pelican Hill in Orange County; Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai; the Grand Del Mar in San Diego; Four Seasons Biltmore Santa Barbara and Simpson House Inn, both in Santa Barbara; and Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village.
In a break with past practice, AAA this year has allowed its affiliated clubs and individual hotels to announce their Five Diamond ratings before the organization discloses its full national list, which is expected to be released in January.