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Grand Hotel – More Than Just A LONG Porch

July 11, 2012

Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan celebrated its 125th birthday!

 July 10, 2012

A visitor’s first view of Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Ironically, it was a month ago today that my husband and escorted friends from South Dakota on their first trip to the Island so they could see Grand Hotel in person and it was 25 years ago this month that I had the opportunity to “spend the night on Mackinac Island” for the first time (at the Chippewa Hotel not Grand Hotel) and it was during Grand Hotel’s 100th birthday celebration.

I believe I have mentioned before that I have traveled throughout North America and to Europe and I can honestly say that Mackinac Island is my absolute all-time favorite place in the world. And Grand Hotel is the Island’s majestic centerpiece.

Approaching Grand Hotel by foot, by carriage, by bicycle or by horse….it is an awesome sight.

The final approach to the hotel entrance and the incredibly long porch.

Opened in 1887.

The Grand Hotel decked out in its birthday finery.

Celebrating 125 years.

While I haven’t had the opportunity to actually spend the night at this magical place, I have enjoyed many Grand Buffet luncheons, self-guided tours, and plenty of golf.  But last month, during our Island visit with our friends, I had the ultimate Grand Hotel experience, a “behind-the-scenes” tour with the hotel’s iconic historian, Bob Tagatz.   I believe the tours are available throughout this summer as part of the birthday celebration.

It was an almost 3 hour tour and it was absolutely wonderful.  I learned there is more to Grand Hotel than the long porch.  Check out some of our behind the scenes photos.

View from the center of the main floor looking west.

View from center of main floor looking east toward the main dining room.

An elegant dining room with an incredible view of the Straits of Mackinac.

The formal dinner place setting – don’t think I want to do those dishes.

A lounge in the center of the main hall. Those are doors at the rear of the lounge. Do you know what is behind these doors?

Behind the doors is a place where guests can listen to the “big band” and dance the night away.

After the music and dancing, guests can enjoy a night cap at this unique bar.

The Carlton Varney decor of this main conference/banquet room was a bit shocking, but it actually started to wear on us the longer we stayed in the room.

Just another view of this unusual conference/banquet room in all its pink and red glory.

The best part of the tour was the kitchen.  Staff were busy preparing the evening’s formal dinner and it was fascinating to watch.

This is where all those dirty dishes go to get cleaned.

Dishwasher conveyor belt.

Just a few of the clean dishes!

Did you know that Grand Hotel was once the home to a “speakeasy” during Prohbition.  We had a chance to see the “back room” and hear some wild stories.

The former “back room” is now a banquet room.

Quite a chandelier in the former speakeasy.

A very busy laundry room.

Wine is kept under lock and key.

Loading Dock at Grand Hotel – yes, deliveries are by horse and dray.

Once the tour was completed, we rested our weary feet in the main hall and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of this grand old hotel.

A reception had been set up on the porch, but the afternoon rainstorm resulted in some fancy footwork by staff to move the tables inside.

Grand Hotel Harpist



Photo credits: Linda Sorensen and Yvonne Campbell

From → 6. Detours

  1. These are awesome, Linda. Thanks for sharing for those of us who haven’t had the opportunities you’ve had.

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