by Stephen Jermanok
Built to impress the luminaries coming to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Olympics, the 24-story Grand America Hotel is not only the premier property in Salt Lake City, but it’s one of the finest resorts in America.
Deserving of its AAA Five Diamond Award, you walk into the opulent lobby to find Italian glass chandeliers from Murano, French cherry wood furniture and English wool carpeting. The lavish look might give you the idea that this upscale property is only welcoming to adults. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Within the resort’s confines are a children’s toy store, a French pastry shop and an outdoor pool. Upon arrival, children are given a welcome gift, and waiting for them in the room are kid-sized robes and a plate of cookies. A crib, rocking chair, stroller, bottle warmer, diaper genie and bath accessories are all available upon request.
Only a 15-minute drive from the international airport, surrounded by the snowcapped peaks of the Wasatch mountain range, the Grand America has a perfect locale for winter skiing or summer exploring. A bus arrives in the morning to pick up skiers and drive them a mere 20 minutes to the ski resort of Alta. The local light rail system, TRAX, runs directly in front of the hotel to visit all the downtown sites, like City Creek Center, a high-end retail shopping center, and Temple Square, the headquarters of the Mormon church. A bike-sharing program brings you to other fun neighborhoods in the city like the residential 9th and 9th neighborhood. Wherever you head during the day, rest assured that you picked the right spot to lay your weary head at night. The Grand America is grand, indeed.
Our Editor Loves
- French-inspired toy store onsite
- Outdoor infinity pool with mountain views
- Delicious Sunday brunch in the Garden Cafe
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The 24-story hotel offers 775 rooms, including 396 suites. We stayed in the spacious Executive Suite. Open the door and you enter a large living room area with a sofa, rattan chairs, desk, French balcony and a flat-screen television. Walk through the thick French doors to arrive at the bedroom and its two queen beds, second television and another balcony. A walk-in closet leads to the comfortable bathroom, complete with a sunken bath, separate shower, closed-in toilet and Gilchrest and Soames bath amenities. The bathroom is lined with Carrera marble and the furniture is all cherry wood. Wi-Fi and a morning newspaper are complimentary.
There is the opportunity to get an executive suite with a full kitchen and washer and dryer, if you happen to be staying in the area for a considerable period of time. If you have a family with older children, you might want to request two adjacent rooms that overlook the outdoor pool. That way, you're closest to the pool and all the action. The more affordable rooms, with a small sitting area and desk located inside the bedroom, are called the Premier Rooms.
The outdoor infinity pool has glorious vistas of the mountains, and waiter service to keep you refreshed; there's also another swimming pool inside. If you want to take a break from swimming, consider having traditional afternoon tea with scones and sandwiches in the Lobby Lounge.
Just off the lobby, JouJou is a French-inspired boutique toy store. The whimsical windows outside the store, depicting such fairy tales as Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland, are worth a visit alone. Inside, you'll find handcrafted toys, classic books and games, a play area and candy. That will whet your appetite for La Bonne Vie, the French patisserie down the hallway. The macarons are made daily, along with cupcakes, gelato and beverages like hot chocolate and lattes.
In the winter, go skiing at either the Alta, Brighton and/or Solitude ski areas, which are all less than a 30-minute drive from the hotel. In the summer, there's plenty to explore, from museums to botanical gardens.
Start your day at the hotel's signature restaurant, The Garden CafÃ©. The daily buffet features pancakes, waffles, eggs made to order, tender bacon, sausage links, fruit, yogurt, cereal, smoked salmon, pastries, bagels and other breads. Far more elaborate is the Sunday brunch, where you can listen to a live jazz band while savoring a gluttonous feast that features a seafood station, crepes station, sushi station, omelet station and a dessert table that would make grown men weep, not to mention kids.
For a more casual breakfast, consider walking across the street to Grand America's sister property, Little America, and its Coffee Shop. The restaurant offers Belgian waffles, pancakes, eggs, omelets, oatmeal, cereal and more. The Lobby Lounge inside Grand America also serves a continental breakfast, a light lunch, and teatime in the afternoon, with scones and petite sandwiches. During the summer, dining is available poolside at The Garden CafÃ©. Options include sandwiches, salads and burgers with fries. There's also the opportunity to order 24-hour in-room dining if younger children are petered out from their day of skiing or swimming.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Every afternoon, a harpist or pianist plays in the Lobby Lounge.
Wi-Fi is complimentary throughout the building and has a very strong signal.
The concierge is incredibly helpful, booking restaurants and giving directions on a map.
The bus for Alta stops directly in front of the hotel during the ski season.
The fitness center on the 3rd floor features treadmills, bicycles, ellipticals, free weights, and a sauna and steam room in both the men's and women's locker rooms.
The Art of Smart Timing
The legendary champagne powder starts to drop in the mountains in December and continues through mid-April. Many skiers love March, when the days are longer and warmer. In April and May, you'll find wildflowers blooming at Red Butte Garden. In summer, Salt Lake City is home to many music festivals. Average highs are in the upper 80s, but the mountain air keeps it comfortable.
For Mom and Dad
Take advantage of Grand America's spa, the finest spa in the city, and indulge in an 80-minute Couples Massage. Chocolates and champagne are available before or afterward.