Five hotels and two restaurants in the Santa Ynez Valley continued their individual strings of consecutive Four Diamond ratings from the American Automobile Association, according to the recently released AAA lists.

Leading the local list of hotels with the most consecutive Four Diamond Awards is the Ballard Inn at 2436 Baseline Ave., which has earned the rating for the past 25 years, followed by the Santa Ynez Inn at 3627 Sagunto St. with 16 straight years and the Chumash Casino Resort Hotel at 3400 Highway 246 in Santa Ynez with 14 consecutive years.

Hotel Corque at 400 Alisal Road in Solvang made the list for seven straight years, and Fess Parker Wine Country Inn at 2860 Grand Ave. in Los Olivos now has six consecutive years on the list.

Both restaurants — the Ballard Inn Restaurant and the Willows inside the Chumash Casino — made the list for the 13th consecutive year.

Establishments earn ratings from One Diamond to Five Diamonds after professional inspectors make unannounced visits to evaluate hotels for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality and restaurants for cleanliness, food preparation and service.

If the establishments meet published standards, they are designated AAA Inspected & Approved.

After hotels and restaurants earn that designation, inspectors review lists of attributes and assign ratings based on the extensiveness of services, facilities and amenities at each location.

Four Diamond hotels are described by AAA as “refined and stylish, providing upscale physical attributes, extensive amenities and a high degree of hospitality, service and attention to detail,” and those named to the latest list represented 5.9 percent of AAA Inspected & Approved hotels.

Four Diamond restaurants provide “distinctive fine dining, creatively prepared, skillfully served, often by a wine steward, amid upscale ambience,” and those on the new list represented just 2.1 percent of restaurants designated AAA Inspected & Approved.

California boasts the most 2017 Four Diamond Award winners in the United States with 173 hotels and 70 restaurants. The rating system also covers establishments in Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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