Auburn University’s The Laurel Hotel & Spa has been awarded a Five Diamond designation by AAA Travels, recognizing it as offering world-class luxury, amenities and indulgence for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Laurel Hotel & Spa is operated by Auburn-based Ithaka Hospitality Partners in collaboration with Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences. The Laurel Hotel & Spa is a one-of-a-kind teaching hotel adjacent to the Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center (RCSC), the home to Auburn University’s esteemed Horst Schulze School of Hospitality Management, which opened its doors in August 2022.
Only 89 hotels across the United States carry this prestigious recognition, and the property is the first in the state of Alabama to receive the honor.
“I am ecstatic that The Laurel Hotel & Spa has received this fantastic recognition in its very first year of operation,” said Hans van der Reijden, founder & CEO of Ithaka Hospitality Partners. “This is fantastic news for our owners, the hospitality management students and academic team and for our entire hotel team, led by General Manager Josh Head. We are immensely proud to be the first hotel in the state of Alabama to receive a Five Diamond designation and are excited to share this accolade as part of our larger goal to establish Auburn as a world-class destination for both hospitality and education.”
The Laurel Hotel & Spa is the first teaching hotel in the United States and among only a few in the world to achieve this prestigious status.
“This is tremendous news and a wonderful testament to all of the very hard work invested by faculty, students and industry partners in helping us further live out our vision and mission, which is focused on delivering a very differential form of hospitality education,” said Martin O’Neill, head, Horst Schulze School of Hospitality Management. “No doubt the first of many such accolades to come. Honestly, I could not be prouder!”
The property sits atop culinary labs and classrooms as well as 1856 – Culinary Residence, the world’s first teaching restaurant to serve a tasting menu, currently helmed by Chef in Residence Ford Fry and Master Sommelier Thomas Price. The Laurel Hotel & Spa also features a rooftop lounge and infinity pool with cabanas. A rooftop garden operated in partnership with Auburn University’s Department of Horticulture provides produce used at 1856 – Culinary Residence and by students in culinary laboratories.