Grand Hotel is an epicenter of Mackinac Island, and a visit to the storied attraction should be on the checklist of every visitor—even if the stopover is short, it’ll be extraordinarily sweet. Read on to discover how to integrate this iconic Northern Michigan hotel into your vacation.
The Grand Hotel has undergone steady expansion since it first opened in 1887. Even in its earliest days, the Grand’s front porch—currently the longest in the world at approximately 660 feet—was a meeting place for islanders, and soldiers stationed at the then-operational Fort Mackinac would frequent the porch to chat with young ladies staying at the Grand Hotel.
The Grand has hosted luminaries like Mark Twain and a handful of US Presidents, as well as several decades worth of prominent Midwestern industrialists to whom the Grand was first marketed as a vacation getaway. Hollywood has also been helpless to the hotel’s charms: the films This Time For Keeps—a 1940’s musical-movie—and Somewhere in Time—starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour—were both shot on location at the Grand Hotel.
Staying at the Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel is home to 397 individually-decorated rooms, giving the hotel an inimitable opulence. Formal wear is mandatory during dinner hours (after 6:30 p.m.). Though the hotel maintains a classic timelessness, the establishment’s amenities are top-notch—including free Wifi throughout the property and dining options available with each stay. From single rooms to two room suites, a variety of accommodation options are available. Children under 12 stay for free at the Grand Hotel.
The Grand Hotel also features:
- Esther Williams Swimming Pool: 220-foot, heated pool lined with lounge chairs.
- Golfing at The Jewel: 18-hole course split between two sites—The Grand’s 9 holes are near the hotel, while the Woods’ 9 holes are in the interior of the island. Open to the public.
- Astor’s Salon: Full-service salon featuring a menu of salon treatments.
- Carriage Tours: Tour the island and visit the Grand’s inland horse stable.
- Outdoor Activities: Lawn games, garden tours, tennis and vintage baseball matches with 19th-century uniforms and rules.
Call 800.334.7263 to make reservations.
Visiting the Grand Hotel
Non-guests are welcome at the Grand Hotel, although a $10 fee applies upon entrance. There are a variety of ways to enjoy the Grand:
- Afternoon Tea: Enjoy pastries, tea and champagne in the Parlor from 3:30 to 5 p.m. $30 per person, plus entrance fee.
- Golf: Golf at The Jewel is open to the public.
- Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor: Classic ice cream bar open to all—no fee required.
- Dining at the Grand: Dining in the Main Dining Room runs $30, $45 and $80 per person for breakfast, luncheon buffet and dinner, respectively.
Dining at the Grand Hotel
In keeping with its elegant, Victorian-era essence, dining is a central component to any Grand Hotel experience. Reservations can be made by both guests and non-guests by calling the hotel’s concierge at 906.847.3331. The hotel manages seven different restaurants throughout the island.
- Main Dining Room: Located within the hotel with views of the Straits of Mackinac and a formal evening dress code.
- Woods: A short carriage ride from the Grand, this casual restaurant is housed in a Tudor-style mansion, replete with taxidermy and Bavarian quirks.
- Fort Mackinac Tea Room: This cafe within Fort Mackinac serves sandwiches, soup and beverages. Entrance fee to Fort Mackinac required.
- The Gate House: Casual dining restaurant between Grand Hotel and downtown Mackinac Island.
- The Jockey Club: Located at the first tee of the Jewel, offering sandwiches. Order ahead for a packed lunch for the links.
- Cawthorne’s Village Inn: Featuring an outdoor patio and a menu filled with fish specialties and other American cuisine.
- Carleton’s Tea Store: Located on the first floor of the hotel, grab a quick bite during lunch hours or a dessert and coffee throughout the day.
Events at the Grand Hotel
Aside from hosting events, banquets and balls, the Grand Hotel is home to several annual events, including:
- Labor Day Jazz Weekend: Jazz fills the Grand’s halls during the holiday weekend.
- History Weekend: Get an exclusive look at the Grand Hotel’s history with resident historian, Bob Tagatz, during this mid-September special.
- Murder Mystery Weekend: The plot thickens during this October weekend where guests assume roles in a running murder mystery game.
- Closing the Grand: At the conclusion of the summer season, the pantries and cellars are cleaned and any open rooms opened for exploration.
Article contributors: Evan Perry
Originally published on June 5, 2014