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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston
 

Fifth diamond for Venetian equals Wynn

21 October 2007

What a difference a diamond makes.

Casting its eyes jealously up and down the Strip for years, the Venetian has longed to join the highest tier of luxury hotels by winning top honors from AAA and the Mobil Travel Guide.

The competition grew more serious a year ago after the two-year-old Wynn Las Vegas next door won its first AAA Five Diamond. Wynn and the Venetian are engaged in a rivalry for the same customers, from high rollers to spa aficionados. And even though the Venetian's four-diamond shadow falls across Wynn's five-diamond property, Wynn has held superior bragging rights to those who keep score of diamonds and stars.

But for more than a week, the Venetian has been biting its lip - quietly savoring but not announcing that it has won AAA's Five Diamond award. The resort got the heads-up from AAA, which doesn't reveal the Five Diamond winners until Nov. 9.

Ultimately, the winner is Las Vegas, which has proved that top-notch service and attention to detail are possible in a megaresort with more than 10 times the number of rooms of the typical American hotel.

The Venetian, with more than 4,000 rooms, is the largest property to be recognized with AAA's top honor. The Bellagio, with nearly 4,000 rooms, is a six-time Five Diamond award winner.

The Four Seasons Hotel, the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Las Vegas and the Skylofts suites at MGM Grand have previously won the award and still await this year's news.

The top honors are a big deal for discerning travelers, including moneyed tourists discovering Las Vegas, said Chris Hoag, director of marketing for Tripres.com, a travel reservations site operated by Prestige Travel in Las Vegas.

"Any property that's willing to put their efforts into (the awards) will be rewarded," said Hoag, a former room sales manager with MGM Mirage.

That's because a five-star or four-star property in Las Vegas will typically beat a similarly rated boutique hotel in bigger cities on price, Hoag said. Las Vegas properties, unlike hotels elsewhere, aggressively seek to fill their hotels to capacity.

The Skylofts and Wynn were new to last year's list, propelling Las Vegas rapidly up the ladder and within striking distance of the rankings awarded to the Los Angeles area and New York City, which won five and six Five Diamond hotel honors, respectively, last year.

Four restaurants in Las Vegas also won the Five Diamond award last year.

There are fewer top honors in Mobil Travel Guide's star ranking system. Last year, Mobil awarded Las Vegas' first five-star ranking to the Tower Suites at Wynn Las Vegas. The rest of Wynn Las Vegas, the Venetian, the Bellagio and the Four Seasons have four-star Mobil rankings.