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5 Diamond hotels in Richmond & Nashville

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The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond was built in 1894, and is one of the more venerable landmarks in our city. It has consistently gotten the highest ratings from AAA and Mobil since it was renovated and remodeled in the early 90's.

The Jefferson and its Tenn. sister get 5-diamond rating



The operators of The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond have repeated their magic with a historic hotel in downtown Nashville, Tenn.

The Hermitage Hotel received AAA's five-diamond rating after completing a massive overhaul of the 123-room hotel in February.

The Jefferson secured the American Automobile Association's five-diamond rating in 1993, nearly two years after Richmonders William H. Goodwin Jr. and Beverley W. "Booty" Armstrong bought the hotel and invested millions of dollars renovating it.

The historic Richmond hotel has received the rating again, its 11th consecutive year. There are 81 other hotels on the new list, which was released yesterday.

Also, The Jefferson's Lemaire restaurant earned a five-diamond award for the ninth year.

The only other Virginia hotel on the AAA list was The Inn at Little Washington, which also retained a five-diamond rating for its restaurant.

The Inn's restaurant is one of only two in North America that has held the highest AAA rating since the program was applied to restaurants 16 years ago. The other is Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia.

Maestro, a restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton near Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia, joined the list for the first time this year.

The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., a hotel owned by CSX Corp., has received the rating for 28 consecutive years. Only two other lodgings have that distinction. CSX formerly was based in Richmond.

The owners at The Hermitage Hotel were surprised at how quickly the Tennessee hotel received the five-diamond rating. The hotel closed for 10 months for $18 million in renovations.

The Hermitage was purchased in June 2000 by Historic Hotels Nashville Inc., whose owners include Goodwin and Prem Devadas, managing director at The Jefferson, The Hermitage and Kiawah Island Resorts in South Carolina.

"We are very proud to receive this rating in such a short space of time," Devadas said. "It's a tremendous credit to our staff."

When Devadas and Goodwin announced renovation plans in 2002, they set a goal to obtain the five-diamond award for The Hermitage. It is the first Tennessee hotel to be listed since 1985.

And Goodwin hopes to earn a five-diamond at his other property - The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island - which is being built. The resort opens in four months.

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