Mormon Businessman Brings Utah First Five-Star Hotel
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- "It's like nothing you've ever seen in Utah,"
says Kip Pitou who is President of Ski Utah, a ski trade group. The
Wall Street Journal describes it as "lavish even in the world of
Horst Schulze, who as chairman of Ritz-Carlton Hotels is well
acquainted with fine hostelry, has toured Utah's first 5-star hotel
twice. Mr. Schultze uses the term "mind-boggling" regarding the
property's lavishness and attention to detail. "It's truly thinking
out of the box to invest in a hotel like that in Salt Lake City," Mr.
It is dressed in 350,000 finished square feet of granite that was
quarried in Vermont, shipped via the St. Lawrence Seaway and across
the Atlantic to be cut in Spain, shipped back across the Atlantic and
through the Panama Canal and then by train from the West Coast to
Salt Lake City. Copper roofs, bronze balustrades, detailed
woodwork--all lead Ski Utah's Pitou to refer to this newly opened
775-room hotel as Utah's "Taj Mahal."
It is the newly opened grand hotel The Grand America, paid for in
cash and owned by Mormon businessman Earl Holding who is also a
former member of the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee.
After the International Olympic Committee in 1990 suggested that Salt
Lake City could not host an Olympics in part due to hotel
accommodations unworthy of the world's elite, Mr. Holding and his
wife, Carol, proposed in 1995 to build a hotel that will perhaps set
a new standard for the "royalty" of the Olympics.
Not only have they built it, but they've paid for it--at a cost
estimated to be from $330 million upwards to $775 million, which
would amount to $1 million per room.
Fortune magazine ranks the 74-year-old Mr. Holding, with estimated
wealth of $1 billion, as number 236 on its list of the 400 wealthiest
in the world. Normally one to stay far removed from the public eye,
Mr. Holding granted a rare interview on the occasion of the opening
of his new hotel.
How much exactly did it cost? "I don't want everybody to know. It's a lot."
Why not get banks to help with the construction? "I never did like debt much."
What did hotel consultants say in their market research studies about
such opulence in Salt Lake City? "I don't need anybody to tell me. I
haven't had any studies done at all."
According to the Wall Street Journal, rooms at The Grand America are
expected to be available in the $150 per night range, though likely
not during the Olympics. That compares with current average per night
lodging prices for Salt Lake City hotels recently surveyed at about
Grand America arrives in Salt Lake City
Australian Financial Review (Wall Street Journal) 17Jan02 B2
Does a Spartan City Really Need a Hotel Of Olympic Scale?
Wall Street Journal pgA1 10Jan02 B2
By Christina Binkley: Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
A Reclusive Oil Baron Builds `Taj Mahal' in Salt Lake City; The Aga Khan's
Holding: Maverick Entrepreneur Has Made a Fortune Through Hard Work and Patience
Salt Lake Tribune 13Feb00 B2
By Guy Boulton: Salt Lake Tribune