Even grand dames need an occasional sprucing up, and that's why the revered El Tovar Hotel on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park will be closed for three months beginning January 2, 2014.
Built in 1905 by the Sante Fe Railway, the 78-room hotel is to Grand Canyon what The Ahwahnee is to Yosemite National Park and the Lake Hotel is to Yellowstone National Park: a sumptuous, pampering, and charming lodging, one that comes with some breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon.
But eight years have passed since it last received any significant makeover, and the time has come to freshen up the old lady, said Bruce Brossman, sales and marketing director for Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which manages the historic hotel as well as the other lodgings on the South Rim.
"We will be doing all 66 guest rooms (there are 12 suites), soft goods, drapes, carpet, paint, mattresses, bedding, all that kind of stuff," he said Friday. "We’ll probably use the same kind of artwork. We will repurpose the furniture. We’ll take it out and have it refreshed, maybe put marble tops on them. Basically gussy up the furniture, repair it if needed, and reuse it."
Back in 2005 the work was much more significant, with wall-hung sinks taken out, old tubs removed by being cut in half so they can be taken out of rooms, the kitchen was gutted and redone. This time around the approach is, basically, to freshen the hotel's look and replace items that have seen a lot of wear and tear.
“The carpets, everything will get a deep cleaning," Mr. Brossman said. "The kitchen will probably get a super deep cleaning. I don’t know what updates, because in 2005 it was gutted, so it’s in pretty good shape."
The hotel's exterior likely will get a fresh coat of paint, the bar and dining room probably new carpet, and the interior walls will be restained, he said.
“It’s going to be nice. It’s going to be fresher, cleaner. The goal will be to keep the public spaces very similar to how they appeared in 1905," Mr. Brossman said.
Because El Tovar and its dining room will be out of commission for three months at the start of 2014, the Arizona Room, which has spectacular views into the canyon from tables along the north wall, will remain open for lunch and dinner in January and February rather than closing as usual.
If demand dictates more rooms are needed, Xanterra could open the 198-room Yavapai Lodge, said Mr. Brossman, but he doesn't anticipate that in light of the fact that El Tovar only has 78 rooms and the first three months of the year are somewhat slow compared to the spring, summer and fall seasons.