Valencia has received a number of accolades this
year, including the No. 1 California hotel ranking
by U.S. News & World Report.
hotel rankings are out, and a select number of San Diego
County luxury properties have made the cut for the
uppermost tiers in 2019.
As has been
the case for much of the past several years, the Rancho
Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe, the Fairmont
Grand Del Mar in Carmel Valley and the Park Hyatt Aviara
Resort in Carlsbad received the top five-star ratings from
the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide. They were among just
18 five-star hotels in California.
three hotels, in addition to the Lodge at Torrey Pines in
La Jolla, were part of a similarly exclusive group of
five-diamond properties rated by AAA. There are only 14
hotels in California that secured this year’s
In the case
of Forbes and AAA, the top ratings are based on exacting
standards for luxury properties that are taken into
consideration during inspections and unannounced overnight
it evaluates hotels on the basis of up to 900 standards,
with an emphasis on exceptional service.
time of information overload and fake reviews online,
Forbes Travel Guide is the ultimate trusted source in
luxury travel,” said CEO Filip Boyen. “Our objective,
data-driven StarRating list features properties that
achieved an impeccable standard of excellence in
Rancho Valencia, which underwent a $30 million overhaul in
2012 after being sold two years earlier, has the extra
distinction of being named the No. 1 hotel in California
by U.S. News & World Report as part of its 2019 best
hotels in the U.S. rankings.
it ranks No. 9, while the Fairmont Grand Del Mar is 14th
and the Pendry in downtown San Diego is 24th. The No. 1
hotel is the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big
California, the Grand Del Mar and Pendry were ranked
fourth and fifth, respectively.
uses a methodology that relies on an analysis of expert
and user opinions.
Thornburg, a general manager with Rancho Valencia, said
she inaugurated a more narrowly focused training program
last year when she arrived to concentrate more heavily on
elevated service. The goal was to encourage the staff to
interact more with the guests in hopes of exceeding their
own expectations of service.
that rates for the resort’s suites and villas regularly
exceed $800 a night, superior service would seem to be a
example of over-and-above service, Thornburg recounts the
story of a couple who checked in with their especially
rambunctious dog, so she came up with the idea of
distracting the pet with a canine scavenger hunt.
applewood smoked bacon from the kitchen and put it
throughout the property and let him run around,”
Thornburg said. “Then we sent photos of the scavenger
hunt to the guest afterward.”
idea she put in place is to go the extra step when a minor
fix is needed in a guest’s room. After the repair of a
leaky faucet, for example, the hotel’s staff will leave
a couple of cookies in the shape of a hammer, along with a
note, to signal the problem was resolved, Thornburg said.
have trained staff to push into element of luxury and how
do we personalize that for our guests,” she added.
Thornburg, Dennis Clark, managing director of the Fairmont
Grand Del Mar, says it is an especially attentive staff
that deserves the credit for the continued accolades the
credit much of our success to our extraordinarily gracious
and hardworking colleagues, and the combination of these
recognitions is a powerful testament to their excellent
work,” he said.
Del Mar is among just 11 properties from around the world
that have the distinction of earning five-star awards for
their hotel as well as their restaurant and spa. Its fine
dining restaurant, Addison, joins eight other California
restaurants that have five stars. Addison is the only
five-star restaurant in San Diego County
Valencia, in addition to its hotel, also received a
five-star rating for its spa.
Travel Guide also doled out four-star rankings for select
properties, and just three San Diego County hotels made
that list. They are The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla,
the US Grant in downtown San Diego, and Viejas Casino
& Resort in Alpine, which is the only San Diego County
casino hotel to make the list.
AAA rankings, there were 23 San Diego County properties
that received four diamonds.