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California & the West

Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., resort, 7 others join 5-diamond hotels list

Rancho Valencia Resort in Rancho Santa Fe and two resorts in Mexico join AAA's five-diamond crowd.

If you want a bit more luxury travel in the new year, check out eight hotels that just made AAA's list of five-diamond properties. Recipients of the organization's top award include a San Diego County resort, two in Mexico and one in Denver.

Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., is among eight hotels to enter the big bling rating for 2014. The resort about half an hour northeast of San Diego is a prestigious Relais & Chateaux property. It opened in 1989 and recently underwent a $30 million face-lift.

The resort last year also ranked 25th on the 100 best hotels and resorts in the world selected by Conde Nast Traveler readers.

For those keeping score, California now has 18 five-diamond hotels, more than any other state.

Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort at Lake Buena Visa, Fla., also made the list. In the announcement, it was singled out for extras such as iPads in each room that allow guests to read the newspaper and control in-room lights and temperature, among other things.

"Five Diamond establishments stand apart by redefining personalized service, using creativity to enhance guest comfort and providing memorable experiences," Michael Petrone, director of Inspections & Diamond Ratings, said in the statement.

Others new to the five-diamond world include:

--Four Seasons Hotel Denver
--Grand Luxxe in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
--One&Only Palmilla in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
--Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto
--The Langham Chicago
--The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman at Seven Mile Beach in the Cayman Islands.

Six restaurants made the five-diamond list too, including Saison in San Francisco and Twist in Las Vegas.

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