After traveling to The Waldorf Astoria Park City last week, I was reminded of an old Isaac Asimov quote: "Life is pleasant — death is peaceful — it’s the transition!" This saying returned to me as I saw so much of this resort in a positive transition.
Of course, there was no sawdust or construction inside the hotel, but the restaurant renovations combining new gastronomic concepts, a new golf course moving from concept to construction, and a new lobby boutique, expanded the hotel’s ambiance with an even happier, pre-holiday anticipation. To get the sense of what is happening here, it’s important to know a little hotel history.
The Waldorf Astoria Park City is the first ski resort added to Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. The property has 175 guest rooms, suites, and wholly owned residences, and is ski-in/ski out, with a gondola adjacent to the hotel. The units all have exceptional views of ski slopes or the Wasatch Mountain Range. The resort is also home to the exceptional 16,000-square-foot Golden Door Spa, only one of five in the world.
Last year in 2010, The Waldorf Astoria Park City was purchased by Talisker, a privately held 25-year-old Toronto-based international real estate company. Talisker is the largest mountain real estate and resort operating company in Park City, Utah and has already developed three of Park City’s significant family-oriented residential communities — Tuhaye, Empire Pass and Red Cloud — collectively called the Talisker Club. In the summer of 2008, Talisker acquired Canyons Resort, then in 2010, the Waldorf Astoria Park City, so that now, the Canyons and the Waldorf Astoria Park City are also part of the Talisker Club enclave.
The newer Talisker brand coupled with the well-seasoned, traditional Waldorf Astoria’s has produced a new group of amenities: three restaurants, one retail, all opening within the next two weeks. They will include Slopes by Talisker, a renovated restaurant, with a new restaurant concept; Crave Café, a new eatery located off the main lobby; Scoop, a new poolside option; and Palette, the new lobby boutique. All are slated to open in mid-December 2011. And, in late 2013, a new 18-hole Gene Bates Signature Golf Course will be completed. It will be built around the hotel, with the Waldorf being the midpoint between the first nine and the last nine.
"These new interior and exterior options combine to create a greater sense of "living well" the mantra associated with our Golden Door Spa, and living well means to us, living well outside and inside," said Kerry Hing, general manager. "Outside, with skiing, hiking, golfing, biking, fly-fishing, and hot-air ballooning, and inside, with the creation of new dining options. For example, Slopes is a new restaurant concept. John Murcko our chef, and our Executive Chef is Clement Gelas, will use ingredients that are less heavy, often without butters or cream, and full of nutritional balance. Executive Chef Gelas was previously the Club Chef at Tuhaye Table Café, which is part of the Talisker Club. Both executive chef and chef understand how important vegetarian and vegan choices are now, and are interested in bringing these ideas, as well as more traditional, yet still healthy, fare to the table. Slopes will pay special attention to dietary needs and preferences of our guests — and that will include gluten free also."
On a personal note, I met Chef Gelas and had dinner from his personally prepared sampling menu. There was something for everyone, from the most avid vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike: warm olives, house made goat cheese, roasted Squash Soup with Rockhill Gruyere and Burgundy Truffles. Then the second course, Waguy Beef Salad, cucumber, herb salad, pickled harvest green beans; third course, a palate cleaner, Green tea sorbet, Gin fizz Cappuccino; then, local Elk, Garlic-Eggplant caviar, Bulgur "risotto," with Cardamom jus; finally, dessert, a Ginger-Lemon Verbena Creme Brulee.
The beef salad was a personal favorite, as it had as an ingredient some small, yellow female cucumber flowers. They were picked at a time when tiny cucumbers were at the base of this striking yellow flower. I lingered over those cucumber flowers as I had never seen them or eaten them before. They seemed like such an unexpected harbinger of early summer in the darkening days of late November.
Slopes will have 120 seats indoors and additional outdoor seasonal seating with views of the pool and outdoor courtyard. It will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and will also feature an extensive wine program created by Talisker’s Director of Wine & Spirits Sean Marron.
The other new eating venues are Crave Café, a quick snack/coffee/take out lunch item venue. In addition, a selection of freshly prepared meals will be available for guests who would like to enjoy a meal in the privacy of their own suite. Crave Café will be located off the main lobby, and Scoop, a poolside area where guests can enjoy drinks, gelato, and ice cream. Finally, a new luxury boutique, Palette, will be located in the hotel lobby. It will specialize in designer apparel, accessories and gifts for men, women and children, and is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
The Waldorf Astoria Park City lies at the base of The Canyons Talisker’s ski resort with over 100 ski trails. These Waldorf amenities will be open soon after the winter ski season at the Canyons opens Friday, November 25 at 9 a.m. So, for those anxious skiers who could care less about Black Friday shopping, they can finally indulge in their sport, on white Friday, 2011.