By Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama -- With its regal architecture, luxurious décor and grand name, you might think the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah caters primarily to adult vacationers. You would be oh-so-very wrong! This upscale hotel goes out of its way to make sure families with children feel welcomed. Kids are greeted with a balloon bouquet and small packet of gourmet chocolates. Baby necessities like a rocking chair or bottle warmer can be delivered to your room, kids can borrow a pack of toys and books for their stay, and child-sized robes are provided for young guests. The Grand America is also home to incredible pools, kid-friendly teas and other family amenities.
What do children love more than a fabulous hotel pool? Two fabulous hotel pools! The outdoor pool in a regal courtyard is reminiscent of The Great Gatsby. Casual fare and kid-pleasing smoothies can be purchased poolside.
There is an equally stunning indoor pool available for use for a $10 spa fee, or with any spa or salon treatment.
Grand Spa and Salon
Kids are welcome in the hotel’s Grand Spa and Salon. Manicures and pedicures can be a hit with kids of all ages and both genders. Tweens and teens can also book a massage, with their parent’s permission of course!
When I asked my 7-year-old daughter what was her favorite part of our vacation in Salt Lake City, it wasn’t our day trip to Utah Olympic Park, or our visit to the Natural History Museum of Utah with its myriad of dinosaur bones, or the Clark Planetarium with its experiments aplenty. Although those were all super-fun (especially riding the Alpine slide and ziplining at the Olympic Park!), her favorite memory was getting side-by-side, mother-daughter pedicures at the Grand Spa and Salon. She loved picking out polish colors for both of us (dark purple with a flower on the big toes for her and light purple with sparkles for me), flipping through fashion magazines, and feeling fancy. A pre-pedicure dip in the spa pool added to the experience.
JouJou Toy Store
The Grand Hotel’s JouJou impresses all ages with a multitude of unique old-fashioned and modern toys, toadstool-shaped tables at which to do crafts, a wall of huge candy machines filled with a rainbow of goodies, a talking robot display, and interactive artwork that comes to life when wee shoppers approach them.
Fancy Family-friendly Dining
The main restaurant, the Garden Cafe, offers an extensive breakfast buffet (be sure to try the slightly-sweet, fluffy biscuits topped with salt crystals and served with strawberry cream cheese!); lunches of soups, salads and pastas; and swanky dinner selections such as lemon sole and prawns served with gnocchi, haricots verts and almond beurre blanc. Kid-friendly fare is available at all three meals. The outdoor courtyard lined with trees and bright flowers is a lovely spot to enjoy a meal.
While my daughter and I didn’t get a chance to experience the afternoon tea at the Grand America, the hotel’s fancy-schmancy lobby bar looked like the perfect place to sip tea or raspberry hot chocolate with finger sandwiches, scones with jam and lemon cream and mini pastries. Afternoon teas take place daily.
La Bonne Vie Sweets
The on-site sweets boutique, La Bonne Vie, is a child’s dream come true. It was a dream come true for this dessert-loving Travel Mama too! Choose from cupcakes with queen-sized crowns of frosting, pastel French macarons, homemade gelato, truffles and other candies, and enticing cakes and tarts. After much deliberation, I selected the lemon chiffon torte while Karissa opted for a scoop of chocolate gelato; both were delectable.
Luxury for Families
The fabrics are sumptuous. The flowers are real. The floors are made of marble or covered with ornate patterned carpeting. There is a live harpist playing in the lobby on Sundays. Nothing is overlooked at this hotel, even the rooftops are made of copper and granite making for an impressive, unobstructed view of the pool courtyard from our room’s balcony.
No less than 23 different color schemes are used in the 775 rooms at the Grand America Hotel. Our room, done up in buttery yellow with burgundy and blue accents, had an haute French feel.
For all of its opulence, I always felt at ease here, even with an often boisterous, sometimes chocolate-faced child. With pricing starting at $239, rooms are not cheap but they are very reasonable compared to other hotels of this caliber.
Karissa may be prone to hyperbole, as 7-year-olds are, but she was clearly impressed with the Grand America. After a couple of days, she declared, “This is the best hotel ever.”
Why? “Because it’s so fancy and they have buffets and that candy store that I love.”
Well, kid, I can’t argue with you there.