Shepherdstown inn among 3 W.Va. spots to rate four diamonds
SHEPHERDSTOWN – The Eastern Panhandle’s hot spot for German food and fine lodging has been awarded a four-diamond rating from AAA.
The Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown again was among businesses given the coveted designation – a step below AAA’s top Five-Diamond award made this year to just 101 destinations in the United States.
The ratings, made public late last week, are based on unannounced on-site property evaluations by AAA inspectors.
Only two other businesses in West Virginia – The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs and Stonewall Resort in Roanoke near Weston – won four diamonds in the 2013 ratings.
The Bavarian, founded in 1977 by Erwin and Carol Asam, today operates under the direction of the couple’s sons, David and Christian.
The Bavarian has long garnered praise from both locals and out-of-town visitors, many from D.C. and Baltimore, for an outstanding Sunday brunch and other traditional German offerings from a kitchen overseen by German-born executive chef Wolfgang Vomend, as a setting for weddings and other special events, for the 11-acre site’s lovely views overlooking the Potomac, for the Bavarian’s annual fall Oktoberfest celebration with German music and dancing, and more.
The Bavarian has been a staple on both AAA’s four-diamond list as well as Mobile Travel Guide’s four-star ratings system since the 1980s.
The newest resort making AAA’s list is Stonewall, built a decade ago in the region where famed Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson grew up. Stonewall features lakeside cottages, nature trails, a spa, restaurants and an 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course.
But for The Greenbrier, the four-diamond designation marked a decline. It’s the first time in 36 years that the historic resort wasn’t named to AAA’s Five-Diamond list.
Now The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the only hotel in the nation to earn AAA’s Five Diamond Award every year since the rating system began in 1976.
The Greenbrier, which dates to 1778, and JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., enjoyed that status until this year.
Greenbrier President Jeff Kmiec said AAA alerted resort officials last year that The Greenbrier would receive a four-diamond rating primarily because of the size of bedrooms and bathrooms in about 10 percent of the resort’s 710 guest rooms.
“We simply cannot alter the footprint of the hotel in order to meet the new standard,’’ Kmiec said in a statement. “We cannot destroy hundreds of years of legacy and history for larger bathrooms.
“To quote (Greenbrier owner Jim) Justice, `That’s like asking to change the face of Mount Rushmore; we won’t do it.’”
Instead, the resort updated the rooms’ interiors. Since Justice purchased the resort in 2009, more than $300 million has gone into renovations and additions.
“While we regret the AAA decision, we are more committed than ever to provide the absolute best in hospitality as we have done for the past 235 years,” Kmiec said.
Twenty-six U.S. presidents, including Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, have stayed at The Greenbrier over the years.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report