The Grand America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City (SLC) exudes a calm elegance, even from the street. Top-hatted bellmen scurry to open doors and retrieve luggage under the covered portico. Upon entering the lobby, glittering chandeliers, tiled floors, mahogany walls and marble- and granite-trimmed doorways announces with certainty that luxury is at hand.
On a recent stay, check-in was efficient and the suite was as elegant as the lobby. A sitting room contained a sofa, desk and minibar disguised as a credenza. The bedroom held a king bed with an abundance of down pillows and a flat screen TV. The bathroom was comprised of a series of rooms starting with the dressing room with sink, the main bathroom with separate tub, shower and sink, and lavatory with toilet. The marble and granite on the bathroom walls and floor as well as the trim in the bedroom was extensive, much of it imported from Europe but evoking images of the endless granite quarried in nearby hills. The view from the balcony of the 16th floor faced those hills and greeted the sun as it rose in the mornings, flooding the city below with welcome light.
Located less than a mile from the Grand America Hotel is Salt Lake City's most famous tourist attraction, the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) Temple. It's easily walkable, passing by many cafes, restaurants, shopping and museums along the way. The Temple grounds are open to the public, with gardens, strolling paths and statues commemorating important events in the Mormon religion. The free Church History Museum further illustrates LDS history as well as the history of the forty-year effort to build the temple. LDS pioneers who settled in SLC struggled to grow crops and survive at the same time that they contributed time and energy to carving granite from the mountains by hand and transporting the heavy blocks by cart.
Numerous diverse restaurants populate SLC but the Garden Cafe, right inside the Grand America, serves delectable dishes. The author enjoyed appetizers of grilled, spicy octopus and a colorful yellow and red beet salad. Dinner consisted of miso poached salmon that was perfectly cooked and served with rice cakes infused with delicate flavors of coconut.