The Historic Driftwood Lodge
The Driftwood Lodge was originally conceived by Bill and Joyce Mundy of St. Louis, Missouri. They relocated to southern Utah in the early 1950s when Bill became director of the Hurricane Mesa Test Site. Joyce Mundy designed the first buildings in 1954, consisting of a main lodge with living quarters for the Mundy family, as well as a 12-unit motel.
By 1958, the Mundys had decided to expand, adding four additional motel units, increasing the front desk area and adding a restaurant. During the expansion Bill Mundy was offered and accepted a position that would take the family back to the Midwest. The Driftwood Lodge was suddenly for sale.
Austen and Helen Excell, long-time residents and owners of a very popular restaurant in Springdale called the Canyon Inn, saw the Driftwood as a promising opportunity, and by May 1959, Austen, Helen, and their four children became the owners/operators of the Driftwood Lodge. Over time, Austen and Helen built up a loyal and enthusiastic clientele by offering quiet, clean and tasteful accommodations on spacious grounds, and simple but excellent homemade food in the Driftwood Restaurant, ultimately setting the hospitality standard in Zion Canyon. As the Driftwood’s popularity grew and visitation to Zion National Park increased, the Excells expanded their lodging. They added four more motel units near the Virgin River and another building in 1978 which housed seven rooms. In 1991, they added a two-story building with nineteen rooms. This signature building, with its tall open gables, its rough-hewn timbers and its natural colors, defines the Driftwood Lodge today and it has been emulated by subsequent lodging in the Zion Canyon area.
By 1992, Austen and Helen, then in their 70s, made the decision to close the Driftwood Restaurant permanently. This sent shockwaves through Springdale and Driftwood patrons around the world. For half a decade after the restaurant closed, travelers would still stop in to reminisce and mourn the restaurant’s closure.
In 2003, the new Suites were built, offering spacious accomodation and fantastic canyon views.
In 2004, the family once again jumped into the restaurant business with the opening of Pentimento, using some of the existing space of the old Driftwood Restaurant. A charming addition for diners was a unique covered terrace offering stunning views of The Watchman and the Driftwood gardens.
By 2006, the Excell family had decided to retire from the hospitality business completely. At the time of its sale in May 2006, the new owners, Hans and Christina Dunzinger took over with the commitment to continue the nearly 50-year tradition of hospitality and service.
Hans and Christina bring more then 30 years of Austrian hospitality tradition. Hans studied Hotel and Restaurant Management in Innsbruck, Austria and acquired experience working for several hotels and restaurants in Austria, Germany and Argentina. Christina, an accomplished artist and interior designer, whose decorating abilities were vital in the transformation of the lobby, bar and restaurant, as well as the Lodge's rooms, continues to be an intregal part of the ongoing improvements. Peter Stempel, a local architect and a contributing teacher at the Delaware School of Design, helped the Dunzingers bring to life their vision of the new Driftwood Lodge.
During the 2007/2008 winter season Hans and Christina once again made major renovations with improvements to the suites and the front entrance to the Lodge. New furnishings and other comfortable amenities for the suites, include flat-paneled televisions in both the bedroom and new sitting area. Our guests' lodging experience will be further enhanced by the incredible views of the Canyon either from inside the rooms or comfortably seated in the Adirondack chairs on the patio and balcony. The inviting new entrance to the Lodge, landscaped with native Southwest species, includes a new terrace with a breathtaking view of the West Temple, perfect for dining! Our extensive lawns and old cottonwoods along the river create a serene and relaxing world after a strenuous day in Zion. To further accommodate our guests the Shuttle bus to Zion National Park stops at the Lodge throughout the day during the summer season.
During the 2008/2009 winter season, Hans and Christina made renovations to the Narrows Building, updating all of the bathrooms and adding all new furnishings to the rooms.
On March 13, 2009, Executive Chef Jeff Crosland opened his restaurant, Parallel Eighty-Eight, at the Driftwood Lodge. Owner and Chef Jeff Crosland is classically French-trained from Le Cordon Bleu Western Culinary Institute, and has been in the restaurant industry for more than 15 years. World-class gourmet dishes and an extensive wine bar and cheese list can be experienced in the surroundings of this spectacular, breathtaking geographical location in southwestern Utah.
Chef Jeff Crosland created a unique dining experience for his patrons when he brought to life his vision of the Watchman Table. Experience the Watchman and dine under the eucalyptus tree in front of the majestic Watchman mountain in Zion. Chef Crosland will chat with you, gather information and prepare a personalized 5-course gourmet tasting menu of his choice that is sure to amaze and delight your senses. Reservations are required for the Watchman Table and there is a maximum of 4 people per experience.
During the 2009/2010 winter season, Hans and Christina completely renovated the West Temple Building, changing the room configurations to make the bathrooms bigger and to enclose the amenities areas. They added glass back doors and windows, replaced the carpets, added new furnishings, larger fridges, microwaves and flat-screen televisions. The Angel's Landing Building was updated with new counter tops and prototypes of new bathrooms and closets. A building housing the ice machine and new guest laundry was constructed in a centralized location near the pool.
In October of 2010, Hans and Christina installed solar panels to heat the water in the West Temple and Watchman Buildings. With this improvement all rooms at the Lodge will have water heated by solar energy.
During the 2010/2011 winter season, the Angel's Landing Building underwent construction to remodel all of the bathrooms in the building as well as adding closets, larger refrigerators and adding a microwave to each room.
In 2011, foundations will be laid for the two new building additions to the Lodge down by the Virgin River.
It is the wish of Hans and Christina Dunzinger to make every visit to the Driftwood Lodge a wonderful experience for their guests.