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Mackinac Island, Michigan

Grand Hotel: ‘America’s Summer Place’ on Mackinac Island

By Shannon Doe Ewing

Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan is a unique piece of American history. Opening in 1887 as an upscale summer retreat, this property is famed for hosting presidents and filming iconic movies such as “Somewhere in Time” (1980), starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer. It also lays claim to having the world’s longest front porch, which holds a life-size chessboard. You will no doubt be delighted to explore this beautiful Victorian hotel, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

A Grand Welcome and Experience

I arrived on property via horse and carriage to be greeted by friendly staff in formal attire at the grand staircase. The journey through the island prepares you for its Old World feel, and then Grand Hotel comes into view. Impressive, enormous and glamorous in every way, it has been on Travel and Leisure’s list of the World’s Best Hotels.

A particular claim to fame is that each of the 390 rooms is individually decorated – no two are alike – and many of them are themed rooms, such as the Jacqueline Kennedy Suite. Although formal in their design, the rooms are very comfortable. My room had a lovely balcony with a view across the property and was decorated in a beautiful Victorian fashion, with every modern comfort and amenity available.

Historic Visits and Events

You can see photographs and other memorabilia throughout the property that share the stories and history about the hotel’s many famous visitors, an impressive roster that includes five U.S presidents. Another fantastic film, “This Time for Keeps,” starring Esther Williams, was shot on location at Grand Hotel in 1947. The gorgeous serpent-shaped swimming pool on property is named after the famous leading actress.

Activities on Property

One highlight of Grand Hotel is how fun it is to experience so many leisurely activities. I had a beautiful stroll through the lush and colorful gardens, where there were so many families enjoying lawn games, taking formal portraits and having reunions. You can play a game of bocce ball or croquet in the Tea Gardens, or check out the fabulous golf course or tennis courts.

Spectacular Luncheon Buffet, Afternoon Tea and More

I was so impressed by the opulent decor of the formal dining room. The luncheon buffet has an array of traditional foodie favorites. I was delighted to enjoy raw oysters, candied salmon, roasted meats and an array of gourmet sides and desserts, just to mention a few items on the menu. It’s exceptionally fresh and a feast for the eyes.

Be sure to take your afternoon tea at the hotel parlor for some dainties and desserts. I really enjoyed the live chamber music being performed, and the art of high tea is always such a treat to experience. It has been served at Grand Hotel for more than 125 years.

The hotel has a tradition of honoring a dress code after 6:30 p.m. – gentlemen are required to wear a coat and tie, and ladies wear either a dress or pantsuit. This is a wonderful opportunity to dress up in your finest and enjoy the formal dinner experience. With a five-course dinner and a live orchestra for ambiance and dancing, it’s a perfect evening out for families or for a romantic celebration.

Be sure to visit Grand Hotel during your stay on Mackinac Island. It’s a spectacular property that will impress and inspire the romantic in you.

For more information, please visit us:

Official Grand Hotel Travel Information

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