Valley hotels just earned a giant snub from one group of frequent travelers.
Subscribers to Travel & Leisure Magazine, ranked only one Arizona hotel among the “100 World’s Best” in the August issue, slated to land on national newsstands today.
The magazine asked subscribers to rate hotels in several categories including rooms, facilities, location, service, restaurants, food and value.
The Enchantment Resort in Sedona, rated 93rd, barely landing a spot for a state that claims tourism as a prime industry. Five Arizona hotels squeaked onto the magazine’s “Top 100 in the Continental U.S. and Canada,” three of them in the Valley.
The Boulders Resort in Carefree fared the best among the Valley properties, ranking 43rd best in the country. The Phoenician was 45th, the Royal Palms Hotel & Casitas was 68th. Of the other Arizona properties noted — Enchantment Resort was 30th in the country, and Los Abrigados Resort & Spa, also in Sedona, was 95th.
It’s a fall from Travel & Leisure readers’ grace compared with survey results two years earlier when three Valley hotels made best in the world rankings and six were named among the 100 best in the country.
But local tourism experts said it doesn’t mean the destination is going downhill.
“The Travel & Leisure traveler is a more mature traveler,” said Doug McKenzie, spokesman for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“They are comparing us to palaces in Paris. The audience of Travel & Leisure is so small, it doesn’t reflect the 13 million people who visited Arizona (last year). Our occupancies are climbing. That’s a sign people are coming back. The facts speak for themselves.”
Occupancy is the percentage of available rooms that are actually booked. U.S. occupancy rates have been hurt by the economy, wars and fear of terrorist attacks, but Valley occupancy rates have been rising this year, while most of the country continues to decline.
The Phoenician, which has slipped somewhat in Travel & Leisure surveys for the last couple of years, but improved in other travel service rankings, is taking the slight seriously, said Mark Vinciguerra, general manager.
“Anytime a new survey comes out we do a thorough investigation,” Vinciguerra said. “First we look at the product. Then we look at the list. Then we look at how many new luxury hotels are on the list. Often, when new hotels are added, established hotels are given different ratings.”
In Travel & Leisure’s 2002 survey, a Valley hotel — the Royal Palms Hotel & Casitas in Phoenix — was ranked the 32nd best hotel in the world and fifth best in the country. In 2001, three Arizona hotels — the Ritz-Carlton Phoenix, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale and The Phoenician — made the world’s best list, and eight were named among the top 100 in the country. Two of the best in the world two years ago, according to Travel & Leisure readers — the Ritz and the Four Seasons — didn’t even make top 100 in the country this year.
The Phoenician did earn the 45th spot, but slipped a few pegs from 40th last year and 21st in 2001.
The Arizona Biltmore fell off the U.S. best list this year. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort dropped off last year.
The Boulders has gained ground, moving from 69th best in the country in 2001 to 49th in 2002 to 43rd place this year.
The Boulders sales and marketing director Ted Davis said he’s pleased at the resort’s progress.
“It’s a readers poll from a public that positions itself in the luxury market — our target market,” Davis said. “We feel good that our target market likes us, and we will continue to improve.”