• GTR Earns Wine Spectator Honors

    POSTED July 18, 2017

Grand Traverse Resort & Spa’s 16th-floor restaurant overlooks gorgeous sunsets and features one of the best aerial views in northern Michigan. Unless, that is, you’re lucky enough to view the Straits of Mackinac from atop the soaring Mackinac Bridge towers … but it’s sans food and beverage there.


That’s why GTR’s 16th floor always topped my go-to list of great northern Michigan venues for meetings and small events back in the day when I was planning lots of business-related activities.

The original developer designed the restaurant floor with a great western vista to showcase the east arm of Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan in the distance, plus the surrounding Traverse City countryside and the resort’s three golf courses, which have since been added.

While the restaurant has changed names a few times over the years, and the surrounding landscape has exploded with development, the 16th floor never lost its appeal as a place to begin or end a meeting, or to host a special function during a conference or board gathering.

I loved the former Trillium Restaurant and Lounge name because the famous Michigan flower reminded me so much of travelling around the Great Lakes state. The resort gutted that old favorite watering hole of mine back in 2007 and created a new restaurant and lounge all on one floor. The old Trillium Restaurant was on 16th and its lounge was on the 17th floor.

Today, the Aerie Restaurant & Lounge continues GTR’s winning tradition by capturing a 2017 Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence.

“We’re thrilled that our wine list in Aerie was found worthy of this recognition,” says Brian Burkley, food and beverage director. “Aerie Restaurant Manager and Sommelier Max Bauer—along with Aerie Chef Bryan Petrick and their staffs—is doing an excellent job with the restaurant’s service and menu.”

This first Wine Spectator award is a culmination of casual elegance, super service and a delightful “American regional menu that spotlights locally grown produce paired with products and tastes boasting an international flair,” says J. Michael DeAgostino of the resort’s marketing team.

Hopefully that’s a sign of more awards to come.

The wine list includes international, American and Traverse City award-winning selections, which prompted the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence reviewers to give their nod of approval. Award-winning restaurants such as Aerie feature an average of 90 selections on their list, so guests are assured of discovering something new during any visit to the 16th floor.

Aerie’s west-facing dining room encompasses the bay view while the lounge/bar circles a golf course view to the east. Dining tables between the restaurant and the lounge offer an expansive northern view and can be set up to accommodate larger group events. A private dining room in the middle can seat up to 10. They’re all fun settings at which to eat, drink and meet.

MACVB Annual Educational Conference finally reaches the shores of Mackinac Island.

As I rode in the carriage from the Shepler’s Ferry terminal to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, my mind wandered to a scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” In said scene, King Arthur and his sidekick, Patsy, approach a castle while galloping and banging coconuts together. After a few moments passed and my mind wandered back to the tree-lined streets of the island, I realized it was the clippety-clop of the draft horses pulling our carriage that brought on my thoughts of Python.


First came COVID. Then came the tornado.

The northern Michigan community of Gaylord was just starting to rebound from the pandemic with its groups and events business as a new season was getting underway when a rare EF3 tornado with estimated wind speeds between 136 and 165 miles per hour struck May 20.

Two people were killed and at least 44 were injured, according to official reports at the time. West Michigan meteorologist Bill Steffen said it was the strongest tornado to strike in the U.S. that month. 


Is celebrating Michigan Wine Month a work activity? Absolutely, especially when you’re checking out wine-centric venues for possible future events. Traverse City Uncorked is offering a mobile-exclusive pass to a collection of curated wineries offering deals and discounts to redeem during Michigan Wine Month—also known as May!