A Luxe Visit to the Grand Hotel
A few months back, my best friend, Keith, asked me if I wanted to spend a weekend with him at the Grand Hotel. He's a world traveler, but with the pandemic, his international travel plans were squashed. Still wanting to travel, he figured he would go to the place where his favorite movie - Somewhere in Time - was filmed, the Grand Hotel. While I heard of the hotel, mainly from him, I knew very little about it. Regardless, I'm a traveler myself so I was intrigued.
The original plan was to attend the yearly event held at the hotel in honor of the movie, but Keith wasn't able to get that weekend off from work. Still, there is no lack of themed weekends at the Grand Hotel, so we picked the Murder Mystery: The Roaring 20s weekend instead. I figured I should do my research and found out the hotel was built in 1887 during a whirlwind 90 days. Instead of writing an essay on that interesting topic, I invite you to read about the hotel's history here.
We made the thirteen-hour drive, stopping to see some interesting things both on the way up and on the way back down. I'll post about those separately, but I digress. We crossed the Mackinac Bridge over Lake Huron, which connects the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan, early Friday afternoon where we boarded a ferry to take us to Mackinac Island. From the docks, it was a quick 4/10ths of a mile walk to the Grand. This was our view as we came upon it. I decided right then that "Grand" was the perfect name for this place.
Each room at the Grand Hotel is uniquely decorated, and this was ours. Those canopies were an interesting throwback to a time when buildings weren't heated well.
The hotel has a strict dress code, resort casual during the day, and semi-formal at night. You cannot enter the main dining room without a tie if you're a man. We had a full-service plating with eleven pieces of silverware that we used throughout four courses. I used all but two! Meals at the Grand are an amazing affair where you are waited on hand & foot by a staff dressed in suits, bowties, and coattails, and the food....my god it was incredible. Unfortunately, I did not think to call ahead to request vegan food - which you certainly can do - so I ate vegetarian the whole time I was there.
The lounge area outside the main dining hall spans the hallway on the first floor of the hotel. As a note, there is a ground floor as well, which I reference a bit farther below.
A view from my table during breakfast on Saturday morning. You can spy Lake Huron out the window, a place I wish they would have sat me by.
After breakfast, I took a chilly walk along the large front "porch" and the grounds. It's so massive in size but still manages to look comfy and cozy. With sweeping views of the Lake, I would have loved warmer weather in which to sit out here in the evenings after dinner.
There are no cars allowed on this island, so horse & wagon or walking is how one gets around. These horse taxis were ample around the island, helping people get from place to place.
The grounds were gorgeous in late Fall, so I can only imagine how spectacular they are in the Spring and Summer!
The Theatre was where we attended all the Murder Mystery events. Even this room is grandiose.
This hallway spans the length of the ground floor, providing casual seating in which to sit with a coffee from the coffee shop, or relax after visiting the hotel shops.
One of the hotel's claims to fame is that the movie Somewhere in Time was filmed here. As I mentioned earlier, it's my best friend's favorite movie and the main reason for visiting the hotel in the first place. Fittingly, then, you can find an area on the ground floor that pays homage to the movie that helped put it on the map.
In the movie, Christopher Reeves character lives in 1980 Chicago as a playwright. Having writer's block, he journeys to the Grand Hotel for a getaway. While there, he discovers a picture of Jane Seymour's character as she was in 1912. This is the actual portrait from the film.
Besides all the glorious food that came with our package, we also had a cocktail hour each evening. We decided we needed a pre-cocktail hour cocktail so sat in the well-appointed Audobon Wine Bar, located on the first floor, to have a drink and sink into the big, comfy chairs.
A lush seating area that we enjoyed cocktails while sitting at. Just beyond those doors was where we had our regular cocktail hour for the Murder Mystery guests.
On Sunday morning, we again made our way to the Theatre to find out just who the killer was! The characters spent their time on stage instead of the crowd due to the pandemic. While it did take away from the overall production, it was still fun to do something like this while being cautious.
Alas, success! My wish was granted and we were seated at a window table for our final breakfast before we checked out of the hotel. While it was dark at first, the sunlight shone just enough before we finished for me to enjoy the view.
One last look at the Grand Hotel from the window of our Ferry back to the Upper Peninsula. I was sad to say goodbye but happy and rejuvenated after such an amazing, luxury weekend at one of the top 500 hotels in the world. This was a place that defies time, holding onto standards rarely seen anywhere else. The employees of the hotel all wore the kinds of uniforms you would expect to see decades ago in a place like this, during a time when traveling to such places was out of reach of common people.
If it wasn't for my best friend inviting me along, I more than likely would never have had an opportunity like this myself. The hotel package was pricey but only cost an additional $100 to add a second person so that was all I had to pay for my stay in this incredible place. I also paid for every other tank of gas and a much less glamorous night at the Econolodge in Rothschild, WI. Ha!
I will never forget this weekend. It marks not only a memorable experience but a new beginning in my life as it came at an opportune time. I hope you get to have your own memorable experience soon, no matter how big or small. No matter what it is, if you go in with the right mindset, it can never be disappointing.