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I heard a rustle in the bushes ahead of me and squinted through the shadows. Two deer were nibbling on grass a few feet away. Completely unconcerned with my presence, they grazed in my direction, emerging out of the shadows and into the golden, late-afternoon light.
Giving them some space, I slowly backed away onto a trail of coral sand, paralleled by the green waters of the Virgin River, a tributary of the Colorado River that runs through Utah’s Zion National Park and its surroundings.Instead of hiking through the water like folks do on the park’s ever-popular Narrows hike, I took a seat — on an upholstered chair.
I had spent the day exploring 12 miles of park trails, and now it was time to relax. I was at Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hilton, located in Springdale, Utah, the small town that borders the entrance of Zion National Park.
The 2019 addition to Hilton’s Curio Collection is quickly becoming a favorite among travel advisors in the know. Advisors and clients alike enjoy the property’s picturesque riverside location under the view of the Watchman, one of Zion’s famous sandstone mountains, as well as its convenient location to the increasingly popular (and harder to access) U.S. national park.
The property is a short 10-minute walk to the line for the Zion Canyon Shuttle — the only mode of transportation allowed to access the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive — making it easy to catch the earliest shuttle at 7 a.m. (Folks at farther hotels end up vying for the few parking spots available in the shuttle area, tack on extra miles of walking to their day or take the Springdale Shuttle to the park entrance.)
An early start is recommended for those who want to enjoy the park in peace, and advisors should know that Zion currently requires a shuttle ticket for park access. Tickets can be reserved months in advance or the day before; although they are only $1 each, tickets are first-come, first-serve, and help the park service limit the number of visitors to the park each day.
Another plus for parkgoers are the hotel’s amenities, which allow for an adventurous-yet-relaxing nature getaway. Just feet behind my chair along the river, fellow guests were enjoying a hotel pool and Jacuzzi (in one of two pool complexes). And a short distance behind the pool, my husband was working from our riverfront room’s patio, which overlooked a lush garden view, Zion’s red rocks and the river.
Due to COVID-19, the cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant, Anthera, is available via room-service only (or it can be picked up at the hotel’s outdoor patio, which was never busy). Guests trying to get to the park before the crowds will appreciate the speed of the early-morning room service — the property even offers a “fast” menu for breakfast items such as an egg burrito, a Greek yogurt parfait and French toast. While ordering breakfast, guests can also request a packed lunch, such as a turkey and cranberry sandwich with chips, to bring on their hikes. (There is only one dining option inside the park.)
Food options from Anthera restaurant are tasty and hearty — exactly what one would want before and after a day spent outdoors. The hotel is located within walking distance of many other restaurants, but the most popular in town often require long waits, making the ease of hotel dining that much more precious.
Cliffrose aims to optimize the park-going experience in other ways, too: In the lobby, front-desk agents are happy to print out shuttle tickets and provide answers to questions about navigating the park. Guests can also purchase snacks and drinks; enjoy complimentary takeaway tea and coffee; and use a microwave here (as most room categories do not contain a kitchen).
The hotel, which was built in 1988, features a traditional motel-style layout, with guestrooms spread out across various small two-story buildings, each with their own outdoor walk-up entrance and patio — an ideal setup that allows for social distancing during the pandemic.
The new ownership has spruced up the rooms with new bedframes featuring convenient outlets and lights, as well as an updated bathroom with new wood-grain laminate flooring, a new vanity, industrial-style copper faucets and additional lighting hanging from the mirror.
While the room is compact, it has everything needed — including an empty minifridge, an espresso maker, a safe, a flat-screen television and a small seating area featuring a coffee table and couch. A bold red floral motif, a wood-grained statement wall and a navy blue bathroom and closet doors add vibrancy to the otherwise neutral palette of the room. (Note: The walls are on the thin side, so guests should opt for a second-floor room if possible.)
Cliffrose manages to be good for families with kids, thanks to its pools and a play gym. It’s also lovely for couples who want to relax at the Jacuzzi, the newly opened Five Petals spa or by the river. And friends and groups also love this property, which is popular for weddings thanks to its riverside green belt that backs up to a mountain view.
This is a property committed to allowing guests to have convenient and comfortable access to a park that has gotten increasingly more popular and exclusive. But the best part is that when guests return to Cliffrose after a long day, the hotel experience mostly feels like an extension of their time in the park.
And sometimes, lingering around the property can be more memorable than hiking a trail. During my hour watching the river, deer grazed all around me until one began walking in my direction, looked me in eye and knelt to take a sip of water. The sun was beginning to make its descent, and the red sandstone took on an orange glow.
The DetailsCliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hiltonwww.cliffroselodge.com