By Peter Covino

A&E Editor

The travel people have spoken.

AAA’s undercover inspectors have been hard at work making surprise visits at hotels and restaurants throughout North America and are ready to announce the top rated places to dine and sleep across the country.

For every property to be approved by AAA, hotels and restaurants must meet requirements for everything from cleanliness, food preparation, service and more. Nearly 28,000 hotels have been approved and are ranked one to five diamonds, with five diamond properties representing the ultimate in luxury. The other diamond ratings: One diamond (budget-oriented); Two diamond (enhanced); three diamond (distinguished) and four diamond (refined).

The ranking process is similar for restaurants, with five diamond restaurants having a leading-edge designation, one diamond rated for quick-serve establishments.

Only 0.4 percent of all hotels are designated five diamonds by AAA and 0.2 percent of all restaurants receive the coveted five diamond designation.

Only the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World (2014) received the five diamond rating for hotels in Central Florida.

The only restaurant in Central Florida receiving the five diamond designation is Victoria & Alberts (2000) at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Restaurants receiving four diamond designation in Central Florida are: A Land Remembered (2008; Cala Bella (2008): Christini’s Ristorante Italiano (2005); NORMAN’S (2004) and Primo (2004); Bull & Bear Restaurant (2010; ) Capa (2014; ) The Venetian Chop House (2004;) Todd English’s bluezoo (2004) and Luma on Park (2010).

All restaurants and hotels have been previous recipients of the diamond status, and have received the designation since the year indicated after their name.

“AAA Diamonds are the most reliable and respected ratings in the industry,” said Joseph J Richardson Jr., President and CEO, AAA – the Auto Club Group. “Travelers can depend on Diamond Ratings, because AAA personally inspects more properties than any other professional rating system in North America and is the only one that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect properties on an annual basis.”

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile app, the Diamonds website, online TripTik Travel Planner mapping and routing tool, searchable online AAA Travel Guides and AAA TourBook guides available to members at AAA offices.

To be AAA Approved:

Properties must pass an unannounced, on-site evaluation. Hotels must provide acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality; and restaurants must meet requirements for cleanliness, food preparation and service.