"" Writer's Wanderings: Mackinac Island - The Grand Hotel

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Mackinac Island - The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel certainly lives up to its name. It is an imposing white structure sitting up a hillside and overlooking the Straits of Mackinac. Its eloquence speaks of times gone by when life was much more formal and mannered.

We ended our carriage ride at the entrance road to the hotel and after thanking our driver and leaving a tip, we started ahead. A lady in a red uniformed jacket stopped each of us who were headed in the direction of the main entrance and informed us politely that if we were not registered and wished to proceed, we would need to go into the side door and purchase our pass for the day. The pass to explore the hotel and its grounds was $10. It was worth it to us to be able to see the hotel from the inside and not have to pay for a night's stay which would have been at least $350.

A little history: Mackinac Island was becoming a popular summer resort in the late 1800s but there was a lack of accommodation. In 1886 the land was purchased for the hotel and construction began. In 1887 it was opened to guests at $3-5/night. By 1897,  a second wing was added and rates soon increase to $6/night. Another wing with 47 more rooms was added in 2001. There are now 397 rooms all individually decorated. Seven of them are dedicated to former first ladies. The Grand Hotel employs some 700 people during the season.

If you have seen the movie, Somewhere In Time, filmed at the Grand Hotel, you'll know that the decor is the same. The carpet and the chairs in the lobby all are themed with the iconic red geraniums, a reflection of the geraniums that line the porch in flower boxes. 

We wandered through the lobby to look into the huge dining room. I know there were more restaurants available but who wouldn't want to dine elegantly in the main room? Well, maybe because it was expensive but if you could afford a splurge it would be wonderful. Breakfast is $30, Grand Luncheon buffet $50 and dinner is $85. I heard that you needed to pay the $10 to just get in to dine but I don't see that on their website. That could add to the price. Or perhaps it is taken off the price of the meal.

There is also a dress code during the day as well as evening. It's more relaxed during the day but in the evening ladies are asked to wear dresses or dressy slacks and tops and men are required to wear jacket and tie. That would have kept us away even if we wanted to pay the price to eat. We didn't pack any good clothes.

There are other restaurants at which you can eat. Some are off site a bit and don't require the $10 fee to get to them. The Jockey Club is one and we enjoyed a very nice lunch there after we'd explored the hotel.

We spent several moments with a cup of coffee enjoying the rockers on the 660' long porch and the warm sunshine that was so pleasant. (The porch is said to be the longest in the world.) Then we went down the front steps to the garden area which was partially blocked by construction equipment that was there to work on the Ester Williams swimming pool.

While it might be fun to spend one night there for a special occasion, we were quite happy with just a look-see. Our room at the Main Street Inn and Suites was more than adequate.

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