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Heidi Knapp Rinella

Hotels, eateries honored by AAA

15 January 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Snowflakes may be in the forecast, but diamonds are showering Las Vegas.

Fourteen local restaurants and two Las Vegas hotels have been added to the roster of AAA Four Diamond Awards, ranking the city -- now with 27 -- second only to New York in number of Four Diamond restaurants.

The new restaurant honorees are Alize at the Palms; Andre's French Restaurant at Monte Carlo; Bartolotta, Okada, SW Steakhouse and Wing Lei at Wynn Las Vegas; Craftsteak, Fiamma and L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand; Hank's Fine Steaks and Martinis at Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson; Jasmine and Sensi at Bellagio; Lutece at The Venetian; and Commander's Palace, scheduled to close Tuesday at Desert Passage at the Aladdin.

The first-time hotel winners are MGM Grand and Monte Carlo.

"I think it's all part of our chefs cooking in the kitchen every night," said Denise Randazzo, vice president of public relations and advertising for Wynn Resorts Ltd. "It ties into our whole award, too, of getting the Five Diamond rating," announced earlier for Wynn Las Vegas.

Randazzo said getting four diamonds instead of five is not a disappointment.

"Not all of the restaurants were destined to be a Five Diamond experience," she said. "You want to have a variety of different types of foods, you want to have a variety of service, so you can accommodate all different types of guests."

The nods for Alize and Andre's at the Monte Carlo bring the total number of Four Diamond Awards to three for Andre Rochat, who has long had the honor for his Andre's French Restaurant in downtown Las Vegas.

"I'm certainly very proud of it," he said.

Other Las Vegas restaurants who retain Four Diamond Awards are Aureole, Fleur de Lys and the now-closed 3950 at Mandalay Bay; Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris Las Vegas; Michael's at Barbary Coast; Medici Cafe and Terrace at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas; Nobhill, Pearl, Seablue and Shibuya at MGM Grand; and Shintaro at Bellagio.

MGM Grand and the Monte Carlo both made their Four-Diamond debuts, joining 17 Nevada resorts making repeat appearances on the list.

Landing consistently high customer-service marks for a hotel with more than 5,000 rooms isn't easy. Executives of the MGM Grand -- America's biggest hotel by number of rooms -- achieved the Four-Diamond feat by making the rank a propertywide goal.

Gamal Aziz, president and chief operating officer of the hotel, said the 14-year-old MGM Grand's managers worked for the last three years toward winning Four Diamonds.

"The (Four-Diamond) rating has always been a standard by which guests select their destination and where they'll stay," Aziz said. "We wanted to make sure we have a means of communicating who we are and how important our guests and our service delivery are."

MGM Grand's Skylofts, a 51-suite boutique hotel atop the megaresort, won AAA's Five-Diamond award, the travel club's highest accolade, in October.

Las Vegas-area hotels returning to the Four-Diamond list include Green Valley Ranch Resort, the Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas Resort, Caesars Palace, the Golden Nugget, the JW Marriott, Mandalay Bay, Paris Las Vegas, the Renaissance Las Vegas, The Hotel at Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, The Venetian and Treasure Island.

Northern Nevada properties earning Four Diamonds include Bliss Mansion in Carson City, Cactus Petes Resort in Jackpot, the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort in Incline Village and Harrah's Lake Tahoe and Harvey's, both in Stateline.