Alan and I have been visiting Mackinac Island together for almost 50 years, and we always admire the massive Grand Hotel, which appears like an Agatha Christie vision of late nineteenth-century grandeur in the Straits of Mackinac as you round the corner and come into port. The Grand Hotel is the world’s largest summer hotel and is famous for its 600-foot veranda, which holds the title for being the world’s longest porch. The porch is lined with rocking chairs and scarlet Pelargonium geraniums …and it overlooks vast expanses of lawn, tea gardens, and the Esther Williams Swimming Pool, which was designed for the movie star, Esther Williams, who starred in the 1947 movie filmed here,
This Time for Keeps, although the hotel has become even more famous as the setting for the ultimately romantic movie, Somewhere in Time, filmed in 1980 with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeves. My parents used to stay at this National Historic Landmark once in a while, and I’ve long heard tales of the hotel’s elegance! For example, each of the 385 guest rooms are unique; no two are alike!Also, it has original, award-winning cuisine. However, since the price has risen sharply from the $3-5 it cost per night 125+ years ago when it opened in 1887, Alan and I never felt like we could afford such a splurge. Over the years the Grand Hotel has won many awards, such as being named in one of the Conde Nast Traveler “Gold Lists” as “One of the Best Places to Stay in the Whole World” and AAA’s 2009 list of “The Top Ten U.S. Historic Hotels.” So, this summer Alan decided to attend the University of Michigan’s Internal Medicine Update at the Grand Hotel, which offered a special, corporate rate, and so we stayed there. What a treat! 🙂Although we’ve walked up to the Grand many times, this time we enjoyed riding in a Grand Hotel carriage, driven by horses named “Pontiac” and “Ford.” (No cars are allowed on Mackinac Island.) Our room was very spacious and completely charming! While Alan attended lectures, I sat in their airy roof-top cupola overlooking the Straits and wrote my heart out! After his sessions were over, we enjoyed meandering through the gardens and swimming in their 220-foot long pool. We used to imagine that it would be cold, but not so. It was perfectly heated and swimming was a daily highlight! As the weather was a balmy 80°, we even tried their free Sno-Kones! I was surprised by the number of children and the warm, family atmosphere. This was also true of the dining room. Although children were present, they did have on their “Grand manners”
(as one grandfather told me, who’d been bringing his family here for years). During the dinner hour, the dress code requires coats and ties for men and dresses or pant suits for women (and it’s strictly enforced; we saw a man in a Hawaii shirt being politely ushered off the porch one evening). Breakfast and dinner were included in our price, and we savored every dish and every meal! One night I had a tenderloin of beef, which has apparently been on the menu since 1880 and is still delicious! We attended a reception by the U. Michigan one evening on the porch and were delighted to see George and Rose. Rose worked with Alan as a chaplain at PRCH for many years, and George is an internist in GR. It’s always such a surprise and joy to meet friends unexpectedly! After dinner we’d sit on the porch or stroll down to the beach and catch the sunsets …and one night we even caught the blue moon rising in all its glory. At the far end of the hotel was one garden we’d never noticed before, and I’d like to leave you with the sentiment written on the garden plague: “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
(All the photos were taken last weekend during our stay at the Grand.)