Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel is a historic hotel and coastal resort located on Mackinac Island, Michigan, a small island located at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac within Lake Huron between the state's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Constructed in the late 19th century, the facility advertises itself as having the world's largest porch. The Grand Hotel is well known for a number of notable visitors, including five U.S. presidents, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, inventor Thomas Edison, and author Mark Twain.


Mackinac ( /ˈmækɨnɔː/ mak-in-aw) is a small island, 3.776 square miles (9.780 km2) in land area, in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located in Lake Huron, at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac, between the state's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The island was a Native American settlement before European exploration began in the 17th century. It served a strategic position amidst the commerce of the Great Lakes fur trade. This led to the establishment of Fort Mackinac on the island by the British during the American Revolutionary War. It was the scene of two strategic battles during the War of 1812.

In 1886, the Michigan Central Railroad, Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, and Detroit and Cleveland Steamship Navigation Company formed the Mackinac Island Hotel Company. The group purchased the land on which the hotel was built and construction began, based upon the design by Detroit architects Mason and Rice. When it opened the following year, the hotel was advertised to Chicago, Erie, Montreal and Detroit residents as a summer retreat for vacationers who arrived by lake steamer and by rail from across the continent. At its opening, nightly rates at the hotel ranged from US$3 to US$5 a night.

Grand Hotel's front porch is purportedly the longest in the world at some 660 feet (200 m) in length, overlooking a vast Tea Garden and the resort-scale Esther Williams swimming pool. These areas are often used by guests on a casual family vacation, for large conventions, or concerts during the hotel's annual Labor Day Jazz Festival. The hotel has drawn some criticism for its charging a $10 fee for non-guests to enter the building and enjoy the view from the famous porch.

Five U.S. Presidents have visited: Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Gerald Ford (raised in Michigan), George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The hotel also hosted the first public demonstration of Thomas Edison's phonograph on the porch and regular demonstrations of other new inventions were often conducted during Edison's frequent stays. Mark Twain also made this a regular location on his speaking tours in the midwest.

In May each year, the Grand Hotel serves as the headquarters for the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce's Mackinac Policy Conference that attracts politicians, businessmen and labor leaders from across the state and the northern midwest region.


Carleton Varney, Dorothy Draper's protege, designed the Grand Hotel in its late 19th century decor including its Pelargonium geraniums. No two of the 385 guest rooms are designed alike. There are four types of rooms: Category I, Category II, Category III, and Named Rooms. There are six two-bedroom suites consisting of two bedrooms connected by a parlor. Two of these suites, the Grand Suite & the Carleton Varney suite, overlook the Mackinac Bridge and the Straits of Mackinac, while the Presidential suite is located in the center of the hotel with a balcony over the porch. A detached structure added in early 2000 was named the Masco Cottage; the facility includes two downstairs bedrooms with private bathrooms along with a kitchen, living room, and dining room area. Upstairs are two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a media parlor.

Additionally, six suites are named for and designed by six former First Ladies of the United States, including the Jacqueline Kennedy Suite (with carpet that includes the gold presidential eagle on a navy blue background and walls painted gold), Lady Bird Johnson Suite (yellow damask-covered walls with blue and gold wildflowers), Betty Ford Suite (green with cream and a dash of red), Rosalynn Carter Suite (with a sample of china designed for the Carter White House and wall coverings in Georgia peach), Nancy Reagan Suite (with signature red walls and Mrs. Reagan's personal touches) and Barbara Bush Suite (designed with pale blue and pearl and with both Maine and Texas influences).

Beginning in 2007, many rooms have air conditioning. Formerly, air conditioning was only available in public rooms, such as the lobby, parlor and Salle a Manger (main dining room). Due to the building's design it was difficult to add air conditioning to the guest rooms. Air conditioning for 170 rooms will come from newly installed water heat exchangers in the bathrooms. The exchangers cool the air through contact with the cold water system.

Mackinac Island does not permit motor vehicles (except for emergency vehicles and, in winter, snowmobiles) and transport to and from the dock to the hotel is via horse-drawn carriage. The only other motor vehicles allowed in recent history were cars brought over for the filming of Somewhere in Time. During the winter months, when ice prevents ferry transport from the mainland, the hotel is closed. The island also has a small airport (no fuel or services) that is handy for private aircraft. The horse-drawn taxis will take you from the airport to the hotel or any other destination.

The hotel is owned by R.D. (Dan) Musser III.

The Grand Hotel has a wide array of activities including an 18 hole golf course is composed of the Grand nine, across the street from the hotel; and the Woods nine, set in the interior of Mackinac Island. The grounds contain landscape architecture. Tennis can be enjoyed on the beautiful setting of four Har Tru based clay courts. Lessons are available throughout the summer.The Esther Williams Swimming Pool is a favorite gathering place for guests. The heated 500,000-gallon, 220-foot-long (67 m) serpentine-shaped pool is ideal for sunning, swimming or just soaking up the beauty of the surrounding gardens. Poolside food and beverage service is available (seasonal). A sauna and two whirlpools are adjacent to the pool. The Grand Hotel rents bicycles that are ideal for exploring Mackinac Island at ones own speed. The Vita Course is a half-mile outdoor exercise course on the hotel grounds. Along the jogging trail, exercise stations are designed to challenge and motivate. Also, a complete exercise facility is located adjacent to the swimming pool.

Grand Hotel contains speciality retail for the use of guests and non-guests with a charge of $10 to enter (as of 2011). Oil Paintings by Marlee is a gallery featuring the oil paintings of local artist Marlee Brown. Brown is the wife of R.D. (Dan) Musser III (hotel owner).

Salle a Manger (Main Dining Room) serves breakfast and dinner daily on the American Plan. The Grand Luncheon Buffet is served daily to guests and those not registered. The Fort Mackinac Tea Room offers the ability to lunch within the walls of Fort Mackinac and features a breathtaking view of the Straits of Mackinac. The Gate House is the newest Grand Hotel restaurant located at the bottom of the Grand Hill. Open for both lunch and dinner, this casual bar/restaurant features televisions to watch the game and live music. The Jockey Club at the Grand Stand overlooks the first tee of The Jewel and is a casual retreat for lunch entrées, sandwiches, and snacks with your favorite beverages. Woods and Bobby's Bar is just a short carriage ride away from Grand Hotel. Woods is a restaurant brimming with Bavarian charm. The dinner menu includes a selection of appetizers, soups, salads, entrées, desserts and selections from Grand Hotel's award-winning wine list. At Bobby's Bar you can enjoy beverages and test your skill on the U.S.'s oldest operating duckpin bowling alley. Bar options include the Terrace Room, the Audubon Wine Bar, the Geranium Bar and the Cupola Bar. The Cupola Bar is located at the top of the hotel and features a breathtaking view of the Straits of Mackinac.


In 1957, the Grand Hotel was designated a State Historical Building. In 1972, the hotel was named to the National Register of Historic Places, and on June 29, 1989, the hotel was made a National Historic Landmark.

Conde Nast Traveler "Gold Lists" the hotel as one of the "Best Places to Stay in the Whole World" and Travel + Leisure magazine's lists it as among the "Top 100 Hotels in the World." The Wine Spectator noted the Grand Hotel with and "Award of Excellence" and Gourmet magazine's "Top 25 Hotels in the World" list. The American Automobile Association (AAA) rates the facilities as a four-diamond resort. and in 2009 named the Grand Hotel one of the top 10 U.S. historic hotels.

In popular culture

The Grand Hotel served as a backdrop for the 1980 film Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Every October the hotel hosts an annual convention for fans of the cult-classic.

The hotel also served as the setting for the 1947 musical-comedy This Time for Keeps starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams (after whom the hotel's swimming pool is named).

It is seen in ghost hunters for paranormal activity.

Building Activity

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