Good Life

The Good Life: The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

2013-06-24T00:00:00Z 2013-07-10T09:27:04Z The Good Life: The Grand Hotel on Mackinac IslandGeorge Aquino nwitimes.com
June 24, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A Good Reason To Visit – You are not going to find a more iconic hotel front porch in the America than The Grand Hotel’s 660 ft. long wooden porch on Mackinac Island. An oversized American flag swish with the lake breeze in front of the hotel’s white facade with majestic views of the Straights of Mackinac. The hotel’s manicured gardens and lobby areas opened as the summer playground for America’s railroad barons and the country’s elite in 1887. Mackinac Island itself boasts eight miles of shoreline, a rich history and a main street downtown free from motor vehicles - where horse drawn carriages and bicycles are the primary form of transportation. The Grand Hotel epitomizes the turn of the century elegance that is deeply embedded in the rich history of this American classic.

First Impressions – Getting picked up at the island’s main ferry dock by the hotel’s horse-drawn carriage is the utmost status symbol on the island. You arrive at the hotel’s front porch after about a fifteen-minute ride through downtown’s main street and back roads dressed with quaint turn-of-the century homes and inns.

Guest Rooms – The hotel boasts that no two guest rooms are alike (of the 385 rooms and suites). I have never been a fan of interior designer Carlton Varney’s flair for the bright and floral, however, his inspirations for The Grand Hotel work wonders as a timeless tribute to her rich history. All rooms are equipped with “modern” amenities such as Wi-Fi, air conditioning, cable television, safe and mini bar. The hotel has seven First Lady themed suits; from the Jackie Kennedy to the Laura Bush suite.

Dining – The hotel’s Main Dining Room is the epicenter for all meals – rightfully so with its grand buffets and sweeping views of the water. Enjoy other casual options such as The Jockey Club, The Woods, and The Gate House. The kids will enjoy an after dinner treat at Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor.

Activities – There are ample activities available at the hotel and on the island. Enjoy a swim in the Grand Pool or a round of golf on the hotel grounds, or better yet, rent a bicycle and take in the charm of the island along the scenic bike route.

Final Impressions – The beauty of The Grand Hotel is its discipline to be true to its history and theme. The Musser family, owners of the hotel, has done a fabulous job of balancing the hotel’s historic aura with the modern amenities expected by travelers.

Some Facts about The Grand Hotel:

At 660 feet, Grand Hotel's Front Porch is the world's largest, and is visible as you approach the island from the Straits of Mackinac.

No motorized vehicles are allowed on Michigan's Mackinac Island. All transportation is provided by horse and carriage or bicycle.

Mackinac Island is accessible only by ferryboat or plane.

More than 130,000 overnight guests stay at Grand Hotel each season.

The 5,000,000th guest in Grand Hotel history checked in on June 26, 2006.

While more than one million people visit Mackinac Island each year, the island has only 600 year-round residents.

It takes 500,000 gallons of water to fill Grand Hotel's swimming pool, which was named for actress Esther Williams who starred in the 1947 movie This Time for Keeps, shot at Grand Hotel.

The 1980 film Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer, was filmed on location at Grand Hotel. The movie now has a huge following, with a fan club that meets at Grand Hotel each October.

There are more than 500 horses on Mackinac Island.

Five U.S. Presidents — Clinton, Bush, Ford, Kennedy, and Truman — have visited Grand Hotel.

Grand Hotel's kitchen staff of more than 100 prepares and serves as many as 4,000 meals per day.

Each season, more than 83,000 pounds of prime rib, 23,500 pounds of ham, 83,500 pounds of potatoes, 23,000 pounds of carrots, 14,000 pounds of strawberries, and 6,500 pounds of pecans are served to Grand Hotel’s dining guests.

One ton of bulbs are planted in the fall, including 25,000 tulips and 15,000 daffodils.

More than 125,000 bedding plants (annuals) are used to create the many gardens on Grand Hotel grounds.

The Grand's famous Front Porch flowers include 2,500 geraniums-the hotel's trademark flower-in 260 planting boxes with seven tons of potting soil. More than 5,200 geraniums can be seen in all its flowerbeds combined.

More than 50,000 Grand Pecan Balls, the Hotel's most popular dessert, are served each season.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Open from May 3 to October 27

Hotel Rates Starting from $289 per person (Full American Plan)

Website: grandhotel.com

8288- Two of the Grand Hotels iconic symbol - the hotel's horse drawn carriage and front porch.

8299 - Carleton Varney Designed Room

8329 - Arrival at the hotel

Hotel staff folds one of the American Flags on the front porch

8654 - The Grand Fountain at Night

8336 - Afternoon Tea in the hotel's lobby

8394 - The Grand Fountain

8607 - The Main Dining Room

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