Imagine an island where bicycles and horse and carriage rides are the main mode of transportation; a place of such complete relaxation that it feels as if time has stood still.
No, we’re not referring to a remote island in the Caribbean, but to Mackinac Island, right in the heart of the US. During the Victorian era, the island was a top destination for vacationers who arrived by boat to escape the summer heat from the likes of Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit. Just a few hours’ flight from most of the US, the island’s unique history—which includes the filming of one of the most romantic movies of all time, “Somewhere in Time”—and charm now covet meeting and incentive groups. The Grand Hotel accommodates these groups in 390-rooms and 22,000 sf of meeting space, but the value of this hotel goes way beyond its size.
Keeping true to its 19th century heydays when guests danced to Strauss’ waltzes, dined on whitefish and strolled along the broad decks, the hotel offers guided garden tours amid century-old lilac, white cedar and maple trees and more than 150 flower varieties. Carriage tours of downtown Mackinac Island feature fur trade era homes and shops (including world-famous fudge), grand Victorian cottages, restaurants and art galleries. Guided tours of Fort Mackinac, a National Historic Landmark are entertaining in their own right. Daily afternoon tea is accompanied by a chamber music recital, and lawn games such as bocce ball and croquet still reign supreme. Golfing comes with sweeping views of Lake Huron and Round Island, Mackinac Bridge and the Upper Peninsula.
Indoors, more than three-dozen themed rooms ensure no two guest rooms are alike—whether based on the lives of US Presidents and First Ladies, various historical time periods or prominent historical figures. Rooms are loaded with all of the modern-day creature comforts so groups get the best of both worlds. Culinary options at the Grand Hotel reflect a period in time when dining was an occasion; the Main Dining Room overlooks the Straits of Mackinac, still requiring a coat and tie for gentlemen and dress or pantsuit for ladies. Casual dining options—including an on-site ice cream parlor—are also available, while still possessing this sense of occasion in their own right.