In September 2000, my husband and I spent our honeymoon on Mackinac Island at Grand Hotel. There is truly nothing else like it in all the world.
Grand Hotel is appropriately named, because it is the Grand Dame of them all! Situated on the west end of Mackinac Island, where cars have been prohibited since a noisy early model scared the horses at the turn of the last century, Grand Hotel single-handedly transformed the tourism industry on the island.
Mackinac was starting to become a favorite getaway location for the well-to-do, but there simply weren’t enough rooms to accommodate large numbers of guests. In 1887, Grand Hotel opened its doors to tourists arriving by steamer from Chicago, Erie, Montreal, and Detroit. Today it is a staple of the island’s bustling tourism trade.
Your visit begins as soon as you arrive at the dock via ferry. Grand Hotel sends carriages with white horses, driven by men in top hats and bow ties, to pick up its guests. As your horse clip-clops up the spacious boulevard, the hotel appears between the trees, growing in size as you approach it.
Grand Hotel’s 660 foot porch is the longest in the world, and provides some breathtaking views of the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge.
Two major motion pictures have been filmed at Grand Hotel. This Time for Keeps (1949) starred Esther Williams and Jimmy Durante, and Somewhere in Time (1980) starred Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.
The hotel symbol is the red geranium, which is featured on everything from the soap wrapper in the bathroom to the carpet in all the public spaces. Upscale boutiques and classy cocktail lounges highlight the elegance of the hotel.
Keeping in line with the grandeur of days gone by, hotel guests are required to change into evening attire after 6:00 PM.
It is a bit pricey, but for such a “grand” experience the cost is well-worth it. Especially because each reservation includes an unbelievable five course dinner at the Main Dining Room (called the “Salle a Manger”) and full breakfast, which can be delivered right to your door. Grand Hotel is known for its spectacular gourmet lunch buffet, which is open to all, not just guests of the hotel.
Guests receive an identification card to carry with you on the grounds, because visitors are charged an admission fee of $12!