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SALT LAKE CITY -- With hand-painted walls, bronze fixtures, floor-to-ceiling stalls and fine Italian marble flooring, the restrooms at the Grand America Hotel are places you could spend hours in. Although, some people may think it would be weird if you did.
The Grand America is the front-runner in this year's "America's Best Restroom Award." Hotel Operations Director Anthony Bartholomew says the hotel takes great pride in its commodes.
"Who hand-paints the entire bathroom, uses Carrera marble on the floor, carpets from England and chandeliers in each individual stall? No one does that [but us]," he says.
How fancy are the restrooms at the Grand America? Bartholomew says they're so fancy, any time a tour group goes through the hotel they make sure a trip to the loo is on the agenda.
"Anybody who walks into the bathroom sings out praise," Bartholomew says.
He'd love to win this year's award, but Bartholomew says it's an honor just to be nominated. He says the hotel isn't campaigning to win but its guests have started doing that for them.
The contest was started by the Cintas Corporation, the restroom supplies company, almost a decade ago. Past winners include the University of Notre Dame, The Grand Casino in Biloxi, Miss., and Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield, Ohio. Survey Director David Brandt says there are two rules. The bathroom has to be very clean and it has to be unique.
"There's incontrovertible proof that most people, if they went into a filthy restroom at an establishment, would never go back to that establishment again. We know that clean, appealing restrooms translate into customer retention and customer satisfaction," he explains.
The winner receives a lot of cleaning supplies, bragging rights and a fine-looking plaque.
"The plaque we gave a couple years ago at a five-star hotel in Nashville sits right outside in their restaurant. It's nice enough to hang in a five star restaurant," Brandt says.
Bathrooms in St. Louis, Fort Wayne, Ind., and two in New York City round out the top five in this year's contest for now. Voting for the country's best bathroom ends August 31.