MORGANTOWN, W.Va. Despite a $50 million renovation, a fifth star has once again eluded The Greenbrier.
The Mobil Travel Guide released its annual ratings of the world's finest properties Monday but gave West Virginia's historic resort only four stars for 2008.
The guide, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, issued five stars to properties in Wyoming and Utah for the first time The Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Park City, Utah.
Also on the five-star list for the first time are the Boston Harbor Hotel and The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island in South Carolina. A total of 41 lodgings, 17 restaurants and three spas earned five stars.
But landing in the second tier was The Greenbrier, which lost its fifth star in 2000 after nearly four decades. Last winter, owner CSX Corp. undertook renovations including wireless Internet, fresh guest room decor and flat-screen TVs to keep the resort attractive to a new generation of well-heeled traveler.
Managers and employees were disappointed by Monday's news, said spokeswoman Lynn Swann, "but we're not giving up. While we know what their standards are, they don't share their reports with us," she said. "However, we continue to work on those standards to make sure we meet or exceed them."
Properties worthy of four and five stars are rated in a two-part inspection process with 750 possible points 225 points for facilities and 525 points for service. Room service alone is broken down into about 40 questions.
Mobil says 75 percent of a hotel's score is based on service, 25 percent on facilities. To earn a fifth star, properties must score in the 90th percentile; landing in the 80th percentile earns four-star status.
Mobil inspectors also make unannounced, undercover visits. Their service evaluation, for example, looks to see if guests are greeted by a valet within 60 seconds upon arriving at a hotel or offered a beverage within 60 seconds after being seated at a restaurant.
The Greenbrier, which has hosted presidents, royalty and the well-heeled for nearly 150 years, has continued with minor renovations since last winter's major overhaul, including a fresh look for the north entrance with new carpeting, furniture and wall treatments.
Work to revitalize the theater corridor was to begin Monday, Swann said.
While previous president Paul Ratchford had also planned a redesign of the Main Dining Room, the resort's formal restaurant, Swann said she was not certain of the status of that project. If it does occur, it won't be before the peak season begins April 1, she said.
Last season, The Greenbrier launched Hemisphere, a pricey tasting-menu restaurant with global influences, and a modern cocktail lounge, 38-80, named for The Greenbrier's approximate latitude and longitude.
Both are closed for the winter, but Swann said they offer choices The Greenbrier could not offer in the past, when its restaurants "were almost too similar."
"The luxury traveler who wants to have that one-of-a-kind dining experience really appreciates the Hemisphere experience, but there are some guests who still prefer the Main Dining Room and that traditional experience," Swann said. "That's what's great. The Greenbrier now has choices.