I’ve been making memories on Mackinac Island since a kid. We’d cruise over to this Pure Michigan paradise (if you venture beyond Main Street, that is) every summer from a family cottage on nearby Mullet Lake in Cheboygan.
Being a frequent experience-seeker to the Mackinac Island State Park, Lake Huron shoreline, a dozen isle accommodations and almost every bar, it wasn’t a surprise to learn that others like me also love the island’s veritable grand dame of venues.
“Recently, the Grand Hotel was named the Readers’ Choice Best Historic Hotel in the United States by USA Today,” reports Ken Hayward, the Grand’s executive vice president and managing director. He shared this accolade with us on a recent visit just after musician/actor Ice-T, his wife and others in their group strolled past us into the Grand’s dining room.
Says the winning commentary on the USA Today website: “In today's travel landscape dotted with sparkling new resorts and ultra-modern skyscraper hotels, these 10 winners for Best Historic Hotel stand out from the crowd for their historic roots and unique sense of place.”
Shining as No. 1 on the national list was our 130-year-old Grand Hotel, one of Michigan’s spring/summer/fall gems for meetings and events.
As a member of the hotel’s roster of members whose personalized mug hangs at hotel’s Jockey Club, I proudly toasted this latest Grand tribute in August with my two sons, Grant and Will, while sipping a tall tonic in my chilled cup on the club’s patio overlooking the Jewel Golf Course.
In fact, that’s the island course (one of three golf courses on the island) where affable Rick David, chief operating officer at UHY Advisors, and I first enjoyed a delightful nine after a statewide conference at this American classic a long time ago. We still laugh about it.
Insider tip: If you’re thinking about a smaller meeting next season, consider the Grand’s Pontiac Room, which provides a more intimate setting for private dinners and cocktail parties. It’s located at the end of the beautiful Main Dining Room with a private porch and a view of the Straits of Mackinac.
Something different: I once participated in an event at the hotel’s Grand Stables, located just beyond that long Grand Hill where the horse carriages and bikers always stop to rest. It’s an antique carriage museum and home to Grand Hotel's horses and carriages, and sits atop the hill overlooking the Straits of Mackinac and the Jewel golf course. It’s another one of those unique island settings that adds such a different perspective for a reception or gathering.
Fun for all: The Grand Hotel tends to have more people bring their families to meetings than other venues because of the family-friendly atmosphere. The big reason is there’s so much to do to keep kids busy while the parents attend meetings and events.
Year-end surprises: Something most meeting planners might not consider is a closing-weekend event at the Grand. It’s an amazing weekend as the hotel celebrates yet another year and prepares to lock its doors for the season.
Also, consider an end-of-season (post Labor Day) meeting or event at the hotel next year; the crowds are down and the prices might be more attractive.
The official closing event is Sunday, Oct. 29 and it's a relaxing time with a special presentation by Bob Tagatz, the hotel’s historian and concierge — something to enjoy in between your meetings, of course. The special weekend package includes a casual dinner buffet on Sunday and continental breakfast Monday morning.
This event is your last opportunity to lounge on a rocking chair along the Grand’s famous porch overlooking the Mackinac Bridge and sipping your fall favorite. There’s no other place like it.
For more details, click here or call 906.847.3331.