Austrian ambiance in Deer Valley, the Goldener Hirsch Inn carries the Eccles family values
In the early ’90s, Spence Eccles was skiing at Deer Valley with his long-time friend Stein Eriksen. A hotel had just been built at Silver Creek Village and was listed for sale. It had been named the Goldener Hirsch Inn, featuring architecture that nodded to its namesake in Salzburg, Austria.
“Dad was up skiing and took a look at it and thought it might be a fun investment for the family. And he had stayed in the original Goldener Hirsch in Salzburg in 1951,” said Hope Eccles, the now-president of the Goldener Hirsch Inn. She said the name felt serendipitous for their family.
“We love Salzburg. We’re all skiers and (love) the Alps and the mountains. So when the opportunity came up here, we were excited to take advantage of it,” she said.
Over 30 years later, the Goldener Hirsch Inn is an Eccles family jewel, featuring rooms and halls filled with Austrian antiques and art collected over the years by the family, interior design that captures the high-country alps feeling that the family loves so much, both homey and luxurious.
This summer, the Goldener Hirsch Inn racked in a new slew of awards from Travel + Leisure’s 2023 World’s Best Awards, a voter-based contest. Making their list in three categories, most notably, Goldener Hirsch won “No. 1 Best Resort in the Continental U.S.,” along with “No. 4 Best Hotel in The World” and “No. 1 Best Hotel in Utah.”
How has this boutique inn received such global recognition? In part, a dedication to reputation.
For Hope and her family, being a family-owned business motivates the Goldener Hirsch Inn toward excellence.
“Our name is closely associated with it. We’ve been in Utah a long time, we’re deeply committed to Utah and the whole region, and we intend to be here a long time. So our reputation matters,” said Hope.
The Eccles name is commonplace in Utah, sprinkled around Salt Lake City especially with an air of influence. Having roots in the state since the 1800s, the Eccles have been significant contributors to the development of the area as well as the country, from various buildings to awards to theaters — like the Rice-Eccles stadium at the University of Utah, the George S. & Dolores Dore Eccles Center Theater in Park City and the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building in Washington D.C.
This is the only hotel owned by the Eccles family, but Hope said the management and development have been almost instinctual.
“We enjoy traveling. We enjoy traveling as a family … and so, being in the hospitality business has been sort of natural. What we’re looking for is to develop a project and an experience that we would want to enjoy,” said Hope.
Beyond friendly-professionalism, the Eccles family is dedicated to creating a luxury experience that is also family-friendly.
“We are family-oriented. (We wanted) a place that you feel comfortable bringing your family, a place that’s inviting to the family and a place that entices the kids to want to come and be with their family,” said Hope.
Now, in a partnership with the Auberge Resorts Collection, the Goldener Hirsch Inn continues their dedication to excellence and charming Alpine ambiance, said Hope, explaining that Auberge shares similar values.
In November 2020, the Goldener Hirsch Inn opened a modern addition, adding 50 more rooms to the original inn’s 18, connected by a series of bridges and stairs.
“As we developed the new end, we knew we couldn’t just replicate. We needed to find something that was complementary,” said Hope.
Gesturing to my shoes, a pair of chunky Dr. Martens tassel loafers, she made the analogy: “You know, those (shoes) are so popular and it’s a take on a loafer, but it’s got a … modern sensibility. And I think that’s some of what we tried for here as well.”
The modern sensibilities felt in the new side were subtle — it is sprinkled with Austrian elements like edelweiss-inspired chandeliers in the lobby with golden spikes and clusters of white rocks, vintage Austrian ski posters recreated on canvas, a wallpaper’s woodsy scene showing deer among trees, and wall panels depicting a sepia-toned map of Salzburg.
Hope, who had just returned with her family from Salzburg and a stay at the original Goldener Hirsch a few weeks ago, joined for a tour of the inn. She navigated the maze between new and old with the ease of one’s own home, pointing out antiques and art pieces with little snippets of information — “these are from an Austrian photographer,” “those are tools for raking cranberries,” “this was cast from an old tree truck.”
The hotel’s restaurant, just as award-winning as the hotel, is housed in the original inn and serves farm-to-table, fresh, seasonal foods alongside alpine favorites like fondue, wienerschnitzel and apple streusel. For the dining area, Hope said, it was “designed to be sophisticated, but not off-putting.”
While Hope is the point person, the Eccles family is all involved, she said.
“My sisters Lisa and Katie are particularly involved in the decor and the ambiance.” For interior design, they aim to create “the warmth that you get when you’re surrounded by things that have stood the test of time … making sure that, while you get to enjoy the charm, you don’t have any of the inconveniences of old time,” said Hope.
In the original inn, this is created through architecture and antiques, collected by the Eccles family over the years. Tiered antler chandeliers, wood-burning fireplaces, hand-carved wooden furniture and, Hope’s favorites, hand-painted trousseaus — traditional wedding cabinets sent with brides as they moved in with their new husbands — are placed along the halls.
“You just imagine the lives that those couples were starting out on. And in this day and age where we have so much stuff and it’s disposable, they would’ve had that with what they had, and have felt really lucky,” she said with a smile, pointing out a slightly-askew cabinet which she is especially fond of.
To help identify dangerous areas that can be addressed and to illustrate hazardous components that can potentially be reduced in Wasatch County, the association of governments provided information about past collisions in Wasatch County.
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