A Grand Affair at the Grand America

Afternoon Tea offers a sophisticated escape from the holiday bustle

Come the morning of Jan. 1—as long as I have been an adult—I don’t chide myself into choosing a resolution I won’t keep. Rather, I reflect on the recent holidays. Did I enjoy them? Did I make any lasting memories? Did I at least remember to take pictures?

Or, did I run around like a maniac shopping, cooking and hyper-planning or some other “only during the holidays” act that I perform in hope of pleasing others? The answers to my self-posed questions are usually a mixed bag; some good, some tedious. Of course, I love the holidays: the decorations, the parties, the music, family-time, etc. However, after every gift box has been put away, I struggle with the same feeling. Was I happy this holiday-time or just busy? Selfish? Maybe. Just ask yourself this: When was the last time you did something just for you to celebrate the merriment and joy of the holidays? The answer for me is an ideal escape from the holiday madness that happens year after year. I found that escape in the daily Afternoon Tea at the beautiful Grand America Hotel.

sub1You can feel yourself begin to slow down as soon as you walk through the hotel lobby: the grandness of your surroundings; people speaking in soft, happy voices; the elegance of the china and Murano glass chandeliers; the welcoming servers. Everything about this experience feels special, civilized and calming.

The professional tea service, now in its 14th year, is so well executed it almost feels choreographed. When first seated, you’re greeted with an introductory sweet—during my visit, a gorgeous parfait made of caramelized strawberries and Chantilly cream. I was delighted to be allowed to just savor the parfait and settle in. My husband and I enjoyed discussing our menu options. Having time to savor the room—and, as we seem to do more of at the holidays—smile politely at the other guests.

We decided to indulge in the more pricey Grand Traditions Tea, which includes a domestic and international cheese plate as well as a glass of sparkling wine. Our cheeses were a nice combination of styles ranging from semi-soft Brie to aged cheddar, served with fresh fruits and an array of crackers. Word to the wise: If you plan to make the Grand Traditions Tea part of your experience, be sure to bring an appetite. By the time the final sweets arrive, you’ll be stuffed.

Our server then helped my husband and me choose tea. I opted for the White Petal, a combination of Chamomile petals paired with osmanthus and white tea that results in a toasty, slightly sweet flavor and a liquid the color of butterscotch. My husband chose the more robust Lord Bergamot tea from the oolong and black tea menu section.

sub2The next course was a scrumptious and generous sampling of tea sandwiches and English scones. The scones were dotted with red currants and accompanied by the traditional yellow lemon curd, clotted cream and strawberry jam. The tea sandwiches included cucumber sandwiches, a Wagyu beef panini on ciabatta with sun-dried tomatoes, and black-pepper macarons with pineapple jam and goat cheese among other marvelous selections.

The nearly two-hour afternoon ended, as it should, with sweets. Chocolate mousse, lemon tarts with whipped cream cheese, moist pound-cake madeleines and impossibly airy coconut macarons.

All in all, it was the best “stop and smell the roses” holiday afternoon I’ve spent in years—a magnificent room, beautiful music by a talented harpist, surrounded by grandmothers and grandkids, multi-generation families and couples on dates. On this particular afternoon, Food and Beverage Manager Roberto Martinez discretely pointed out that six NBA players were among the patrons.

The Grand America offers two seatings for Afternoon Tea daily in the Lobby Lounge: 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., major holidays excluded. Reservations are required and must be made no later than 24 hours in advance. Afternoon Tea is $28 per adult and $20 per child 12 years and younger, while the Grand Traditions Tea is available for $47 per adult. Menu items vary seasonally. Call the hotel or go online to make reservations.

The Grand America
555 S. Main, SLC

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