All year long, AAA sends out anonymous inspectors to snoop on North American hotels and restaurants to see which are worthy of its coveted Diamond awards.
Now inspectors (described only by their numbers) are weighing in on their favorite places to stay and eat at the travel membership organization’s top 10 summer destinations, which include Anaheim (Disneyland, of course), Las Vegas and Honolulu.
AAA announced their picks Tuesday in time for vacation planning.
1. Orlando, Fla: Disney’s Port Orleans Resort-Riverside and the resort’s Boathouse Waterfront Dining, each rated Three Diamond. Wow factors: horse-drawn carriage rides at the resort, vintage boats inside the restaurant where you can dine on Prince Edward Island steamed mussels and Atlantic swordfish.
2. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Blue Horizon Hotel and Absinthe Bistro, each rated Three Diamond. Wow factors: city views at the hotel, bohemian vibe at the restaurant with a vintage chandelier.
3. Cancun, Mexico: Hyatt Ziva Cancun (Four Diamond), La Habichuela Sunset (Three Diamond). Wow factors: hotel has been renovated and has great swimming beaches, the Maya-themed restaurant prepares “time-honored recipes … of the Pezzotti family.”
4. Seattle, Wash.: Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Altura (each rates Four Diamond). Wow factors: “historic … Italian Renaissance-style hotel,” and exotic dishes made from fresh ingredients at the restaurant.
5. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Sanctuary Cap Cana by Alsol (Four Diamond), Api Beach Restaurant (Two Diamond). Wow factors: the resort “has a historical feel with breathtaking sea views,” the restaurant has beach views too along with arepa (corn cakes), ceviche and empanadas.
6. Honolulu, Hawaii: Hokulani Waikiki by Hilton Grand Vacations Club (Three Diamond), Chef Mavro (Five Diamond). Wow factors: hotel has roof-top views of the ocean and Diamond Head, the restaurant serves “imaginative and creative dishes.”
7. Anaheim: Disneyland Hotel (Four Diamond), Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen (Two Diamond). Wow factors: castle-themed headboards that “come to life with lights and music” at the hotel, beignets that taste like New Orleans originals at the restaurant.
8. Anchorage, Alaska: Crowne Plaza Anchorage Midtown, Kincaid Grill, which both have Three Diamond ratings. Wow factors: Guestrooms with soothing amenities such as “pillow mist, resting cream and foot balm,” and a seasonal and innovative menu at the restaurant.
9. Las Vegas: Aria Sky Suites, Joël Robuchon, each rated Five Diamond. Wow factors: Free limo ride from the airport to the hotel with its panoramic views, and dining where “every course is a piece of art and tastes as amazing as it looks.”
10. Montego Bay, Jamaica: Iberostar Rose Hall Suites (Four Diamond), MVP Smokehouse (One Diamond). Wow factors: All-inclusive resort offer lots of extras for families with kids, such as a lazy river and water park, and eating at the outdoor restaurant is all about smoked jerk chicken and pork.
AAA based its list of destinations on bookings for trips between June 1 and Aug. 15. To read more about the summer favorites, go to www.AAA.com/DiamondSummer