MACKINAC ISLAND AND THE GRAND HOTEL OFFER A BACK IN TIME FEELING

BY ARLENE BECKER

Rounding the curve on the ferry from St. Ignace or Mackinac City on Lake Huron, your first sight of Mackinac is the magnificent sparkling white pine vectoring Grand Hotel, the largest summer hotel in the world! With its sweeping 660 foot colonnaded wrap around porch with thousands of ruby red geraniums, and American Flags, the hotel is a breathless sight. Staying there as a guest you’ll feel you’re back in the time when the hotel opened in 1887.

No motor vehicles are allowed on Mackinac. Transportation is via horseback, horse drawn carriages, or bicycles. All the 24 hour taxis are horse drawn. You can even rent your own horse and buggy and go for a ride around the eight mile around the island highway.

The Grand wears its antiquity with pride. Rooms are decorated individually in Victorian styles with wallpaper, drapes and bedspreads to match. Several accommodations have white porches with built in benches, to sit and enjoy the view of the water and heavily wooded island.

Gorgeous new Cupola suites are decorated with antique knick knacks and nooks and crannies. Many suites have living rooms, dining rooms, and special seating areas stepped up from huge bedrooms.

For a super posh experience, the Grand’s four bedroom Masco Cottage offers a personal chef. With the antique-filled lobby and book lined library the Grand resembles an English manor house.

A dress code mandates jackets and ties for males over the age of fourteen in the public rooms, and similar dress for women after six P.M. Dinner is an elegant affair with live orchestra music. Waiters wear green morning coats. After dinner, chamber music is played and ‘demitasse’ coffees are offered. Old-fashioned afternoon teas include champagne, and finger sandwiches. A violinist and pianist play background music.

All stays include multi course breakfasts and dinners. Nineteenth century games are croquet and Bocce Ball.

A 220 foot pool and fitness center offer more things to do. Bicycles are available.

A golf course is across the street. A horse drawn carriage drives golfers to the last nine holes a couple of miles away. Interesting tours of the Grand’s history are given by the hotel’s on site historian.

Two films were made here. One was “Somewhere in Time” which starred Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour. Each October, there’s a “Somewhere in Time” weekend. Many guests dress in 1912 clothing. On Saturday night costumed guests promenade in their early twentieth century clothes. Guests are given maps where the film’s scenes were shot. The movie is shown and often actors from the movie attend.

Pic of Grand Hotel

Other special weekends include: Jazz; wine appreciation; Ballroom dancing; and a Murder Mystery weekend. In June for “The Titanic Weekend”, guests dress up in styles of the days of the Titanic. Huge hats, dressy lace gloves and men’s top and bowler hats are prevalent.

Interesting things to do on Mackinac include a horse drawn island tour and a visit to an 18th century fort, where you can see how the soldiers lived, and see demonstrations of musket and canon firing.

Sample the island’s famous fudge. Mackinac has several houses from the early 18th century, as well as the original trading post for John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Trading Company.

Night life includes the Grand’s Cupola Bar with a jazz pianist, and Big Band music for dancing in its Ballroom.

Bike eight miles around the island. Lake Huron is on one side of the road, and limestone formations are on the other. The most famous is the towering Arch Rock which is part of the public horse drawn tour.

Mackinac Island, 1-800-4lilacs; the Grand, 1-800-33grand