When it comes to dreamy destinations, it’s hard to beat Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel. For generations, the iconic Colonial Revival-era hotel, set into a verdant hillside overlooking the Straits of Mackinac, has been the ultimate escape for lovebirds looking for that feeling of timeless romance. Grand Hotel was the 2015 winner of the Red Hot Best Most Romantic Hotel, so we called up Dan Musser, the hotel’s president, to talk about romantic rooms, Mackinac marriages, and his picks for best spots to pop the question. Find more Red Hot Best picks in the June 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.
What is it about Grand Hotel that makes it so romantic?
Well, I think it’s the whole package. Obviously our setting is beautiful. There’s our use of fresh flowers inside the hotel and our use of live music, not canned music, throughout the hotel. And my father always said, it doesn’t cost a dime to make gentlemen put on a tie at night in the dining room, but it changes the feel of it. It elevates all of us, when we’re in the room, dressed up. All those things together—the music, the flowers, the setting, the timelessness of the island itself—make it a romantic spot.
Do you have any legendary Grand Hotel romance stories to share?
There’s a proposal, I swear, almost every day. And almost every night we have guests who are returning because they honeymooned with us and they’re back on their anniversary. There are also the friendships that occur working together with our staff—as with any seasonal business, we all work long hours and we get to know each other. The number of marriages that have happened because of summer jobs on Mackinac Island and at Grand Hotel is astounding.
What are the best spots at Grand Hotel for a romantic proposal?
One of them would have to be Sunset Rock, up by our Woods Restaurant. The carriage ride out to the restaurant is romantic and pretty. And then with just this short walk, you can get out to Sunset Rock. It’s a beautiful view over the Straits, and it’s secluded and close to the restaurant—so, you know, if everything goes well, you can finish the evening with a nice meal. And at the hotel, while the dining room is busy, there’s something very romantic about it. There’s an intimacy to it—maybe because there’s so much going on, you can hide in plain sight.
What’s the most romantic room at Grand Hotel?
We don’t have a honeymoon suite, per se, but we have “named rooms” that are decorated in the fashion of the person they are named after. And then we have rooms with balconies. And we now have two-bedroom suites with adjoining parlors. The windows are all dormers so it feels very much like the Victorian building that we are. It’s pretty much the quietest place in the hotel.
For those who don’t have it in their budget to stay for a night, they can still experience that Grand Hotel romance with an admission fee, right?
Yes—for $10, which is applied to our luncheon buffet in our main dining room. Come for the day, use your admission fee toward the luncheon, take your time. We seat all the way until 2 p.m., so you can spend a long time there, and then you can enjoy the grounds, the front porch, the tea garden. If you’re on a budget that precludes you from staying overnight, this is the perfect way to do it.