Busy and loud, with many tourists coming to eat and shop
Dated decor in rooms
Mackinac Island’s best known property, Grand Hotel is a tourist destination unto itself. Built in 1887, this big white building with a vast porch has 390 guest rooms, and charges non-guests admission to experience its preserved 19th-century grandeur. There’s plenty to do besides shop and eat at the four pearl, resort-like property, which has a 220-foot-long swimming pool, two nine-hole golf courses, and a full schedule of children’s activities during the summer. One of the biggest draws is the five-course dinner in the hotel’s Main Dining Room, which maintains a strict formal dress code in the evening. The hotel puts on a number of themed weekends, complete with period costumes, including the popular Somewhere in Time weekend at end of October, which is based on the 1980 movie filmed at the hotel. The busy, cruise-ship like atmosphere might turn some guests off, but it’s certainly a landmark not to be missed during a visit to the island.
Impressive exterior filled with old-fashioned, casual elegance
Perched on a hillside, the stately white building has what the hotel claims is the longest porch in the world. It’s lined with American flags and white rocking chairs, and overlooks the lake. A red carpet covers the main stairway. Inside, the space has a more casual, Victorian elegance than gilded formality. The walls and carpeting are made up of bright grassy greens, crimsons, and pinks. Charming details abound, including black-and-white checkered floors, velvet-covered couches, and white wicker chairs. The expansive Main Dining Room seats 1000 people and has a sunny green and gold color scheme and white mirrored columns. Since the doubles as a tourist site, charging admission to non-guests, there’s plenty of activity -- it's not the place for a quiet weekend.
On an expansive hillside property, a short walk to Main Street and ferry docks
The hotel sits on top of a hill on Mackinac Island, a 15- to 20-minute walk from the ferry docks and the restaurants and shops on Main Street. The hotel transports luggage directly from the ferries to guest rooms. Hotel guests get a discount on the Shepler’s Ferry. Cars are not allowed on the island, but horse-drawn taxi service is available.
Rooms and suites filled with frilly florals and bright colors
Each of the hotel’s 390 rooms and suites are unique, and more than three dozen come with a theme. The Roslyn Carter First Lady Suite, for example, has a royal-blue carpet with a Presidential-esque seal. The suites were designed by New York decorator Carleton Varney, who was Jimmy Carter’s White House decorator. Decor in non-themed rooms tends to be heavy on florals, bright colors, and frilly upholstery, and the spaces can feel a little more 1950s than 1880s. Although some rooms have been refurbished, those with older furnishings have a slight mustiness and the walls in all rooms are on the thin side. All rooms have minibars, safes, flat-screen TVs, irons, hairdryers, and coffeemakers. Lake-facing rooms have large balconies with beautiful views of the water. Bathrooms come with the hotel’s trademark geranium-scented toiletries.
Variety of rstaurants and shops, large swimming pool, and two golf courses
The Grand Hotel is filled with restaurants and shops. The Main Dining Room serves both a cooked and a continental breakfast, a buffet lunch, and a formal five-course dinner. Many packages include breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Gate House, Cawthorne’s Village Inn, and the Jockey Club, by the golf course, are more casual alternatives. There’s an ice cream parlor and tea shop, along with several stores selling everything from clothing to artwork and a full-service salon and spa. The hotel’s enormous outdoor pool is named for actress and competitive swimmer Esther Williams, who starred in the 1947 movie This Time for Keeps, which was filmed at the hotel. Children have access to a large, colorful game room and a full menu of activities between Memorial and Labor Day. There are also two nine-hole golf courses: The Grand is located across from the hotel, with views of Lake Huron and Round Island, while The Woods is set in the interior of Mackinac Island. Golfers are transported between the two courses via horse-drawn carriage. There is plenty of meeting space, including the two-story Woodfill Conference Center. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel, and tipping isn't allowed.