Fading Landmark

For the traveler in search of class and comfort over the past three-quarters of a century, there has been only one hostelry of note between Denver and the West Coast: the Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City. More than that, the Hotel Utah has occupied a position of special social and religious note in the very heart of Salt Lake City and the very heart of Mormondom.

The hotel is almost an integral part of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, housing the Mormon Temple and the Tabernacle. The office tower of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in an adjoining block. Of course, the Hotel Utah is owned by the Mormon Church, although in recent years it has been managed by Westin Hotels. Across Main Street is ZCMI, the Mormon-owned department store. This is as close as America comes to having an equivalent to Vatican City. The Hotel Utah is to Salt Lake City what the Biltmore is to Los Angeles, the Brown Palace is to Denver and the Mark Hopkins, Fairmont or St. Francis is to San Francisco--and more. But the church has announced that it plans to close the 10-story hotel on Aug. 31 and convert the building into additional church offices and meeting space. The move is part of a plan to withdraw the church gradually from competitive private enterprises. Besides, the hotel, while a national historic land-mark, has been losing money.

Many in Salt Lake are upset with the church's decision, but it is not likely to be changed. Thus, both Mormon and non-Mormon travelers have just one more summer in which to sleep and dine in one of the unique inns of America.

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