CHARLESTON, W.Va. - For the first time in 36 years, the Greenbrier resort is not among AAA's top-rated hotels.
AAA released its national Five Diamond Award list on Friday, and the historic resort in White Sulphur Springs wasn't on it. Instead, The Greenbrier received four diamonds.
The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the only hotel in the nation to earn AAA's Five Diamond Award every year since the rating system's inception in 1976. The Greenbrier and JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., enjoyed that status until this year.
The Mobile Travel Guide removed the Greenbrier's five-star rating in 2000. The guide is now known as the Forbes Travel Guide.
Greenbrier President Jeff Kmiec said AAA told the resort last year it would receive a lower four-diamond rating primarily due to the smaller size of bedrooms and bathrooms in about 10 per cent of the resort's 710 guest rooms.
Kmiec said the Greenbrier made it clear to AAA that it was unwilling and unable to alter the rooms' sizes.
"We simply cannot alter the footprint of the hotel in order to meet the new standard," Kmiec said in a statement released Friday to The Associated Press. "We cannot destroy hundreds of years of legacy and history for larger bathrooms."
"To quote (Greenbrier owner Jim) Justice, 'that's like asking to change the face of Mount Rushmore; we won't do it'''.
Instead, the resort updated the rooms' interiors and pointed out it recently spent more than $300 million in renovations and additions, but it didn't do enough to impress AAA.
"While we regret the AAA decision, we are more committed than ever to provide the absolute best in hospitality as we have done for the past 235 years," Kmiec said.
The ratings are based on unannounced on-site property evaluations by AAA inspectors.
AAA spokeswoman Heather Hunter said AAA doesn't discuss individual ratings or property inspections.
"The Greenbrier is one of the nation's most historic and notable hotels and we are proud to have it as AAA Approved and Four Diamond Rated hotel," Hunter said.
AAA said it awarded five diamonds to 101 U.S. hotels that provide meticulous service, exceed guest expectations and maintain standards of excellence.
Hunter defined four-diamond hotels as being "refined and stylish with upscale physical attributes, extensive amenities and a high degree of hospitality, service and attention to detail."
Joining The Greenbrier resort on the four-diamond hotel list in West Virginia is Stonewall Resort in Roanoke and the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown.