By Joseph Cinque
From the grand openings of new spas and resorts, to the most exquisite vacation destinations for the summer and fall, to the newest recipients to be honored with International Diamond Awards, you will be the first to know where to plan your next travel adventure.
One of the definitions for the word passion is an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction. As the president of The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, it has been my driving philosophy that excellence results only from such intense conviction. Passion must be the motivating force behind whatever it is that you choose to do in life. My passion has always been centered around the hospitality industry. Whether appreciating the art of a fine dining establishment, enjoying the relaxing pleasures of a world-class resort, or taking in the delights of a private luxury cruise, I find everything about global travel and the luxury service industry to be exhilarating, and I am fortunate to have found a way to meld my passion into a rewarding career at one of the world’s most prestigious organizations.
The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences first planted roots in New York City in 1949 as a restaurant rating review board. Later, when I took over and revamped the organization, we expanded our categories and began adding a rigorous rating system for myriad of other hospitality and tourism related industries including hotels, airlines, resorts, spas, and cruise ships, as well as products such as automobiles. Through the hard work and dedication of a passionate team of trustees and support staff, we have grown The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences to such acclaim that our International Star Diamond Award is recognized as one of the highest accolades worldwide for rating five-star venues. Today, the Star Diamond Award is the most prestigious and coveted, as well as the only truly global awards program in the world.
At the heart of our daily operations, we are a service organization that supports the hospitality industry, but to take it to a deeper level, we are about the business of perfection and the pursuit of excellence. To earn the Five Star Diamond Award, an establishment must come highly recommended from a number of well-regarded sources that are discerning world travelers. After careful internal review from our international board of trustees we embark on the rewarding journey of vetting the venue in various categories of performance. As a perfectionist, I find that service is always the most important category and it is the factor that influences our award decisions the most heavily. The delivery of top-notch, white-glove service relies equal parts on the leaders at the helm of a business as much as the staff that executes the service plan. Gastronomy, attitude, quality, and cleanliness are also important considerations in determining if an establishment is strong enough to carry our emblem of success.
While the coveted Five Star Diamond Award is our elite standard, there is a Six Star Diamond that is reserved for a very rare few. The City of New York was the first recipient of the Six Star Diamond Award. Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, is another extraordinary example of a Six Star Diamond property, along with the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo and The Peninsula Hong Kong.
Naturally receiving the International Star Diamond Award is quite the honor, but the monetary return on such a pinnacle of achievement is also unparalleled. Recently Rhode Island became the first U.S. state to receive the award; it is only the 10th destination in the history of The Academy to receive such a prestigious honor. At the presentation ceremony, Governor Donald L. Carcieri explained that this award represents more than $1 billion in revenue for their state. Previous destination winners include Baden-Baden, Germany; Japan; New York City; Lucerne, Switzerland; and Turks & Caicos amongst others. Because of my background in tourism, travel, and hospitality, and the access that I have to the world’s most elite properties, in the coming issues I will use this column to share the newest trends in the world of luxury travel. From the grand openings of new spas and resorts, to the most exquisite vacation destinations for the summer and fall, to the newest recipients to be honored with International Diamond Awards, you will be the first to know where to plan your next travel adventure. We are in the midst of a changing worldview and in light of our refreshed social and economic mindset, I am even more of a firm believer in the pursuit of excellence and the fact that true luxury is not always about the price point-it is about perfection, beauty, taste, class, quality, and most of all, a powerful driving force of nature: Passion.