It’s been decades since I visited the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, however, I’d bet nothing has changed; and that’s the beauty of it. While the world waits to travel, there is nothing wrong with planning, and Michigan is an ideal place to visit when the northern states are waking up after winter, and spring is just starting to reveal itself.
The Grand Hotel is located on Mackinac Island, population 492, and where horse-drawn carriages are the preferred mode of transportation. With the exception of snowmobiles during winter, emergency and service vehicles, motorized vehicles have been prohibited since 1898. Travel on the island is either by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage.
Since 1887, the Island has been home to its defining feature, the Grand Hotel. Fitting with the old-world vibe of the island, the Grand Hotel has a dress code after 6:30 pm. Dresses, skirts, blouses, dress sweaters, and dress slacks for ladies are preferred; while gentlemen are required to wear a suit coat, necktie, and dress pants; no denim or shorts allowed.
When the Grand Hotel first opened its doors as a summer retreat for vacationers who traveled to Michigan by train, and came to Mackinac Island via steamer and boat, it was known as “America’s Summer Place” (it is seasonal), and it still is.
Since the 1930s one family nurtured and guided the hotel’s growth to a highly acclaimed and much-beloved getaway but in 2019 KSL Capital Partners LLC purchased the Grand Hotel for an undisclosed sum from the Musser family. Dan Musser III remains chairman of the hotel.
The Musser family would have been involved with the filming of Somewhere in Time, a 1980 American film starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer.
Reeve plays Richard Collier, a playwright who becomes obsessed with a photograph of a young woman at the Grand Hotel. Through self-hypnosis, he wishes himself back in time to the year 1912 to find love with actress Elise McKenna (portrayed by Seymour) but comes into conflict with Elise’s manager, William Fawcett Robinson (portrayed by Plummer), who fears that romance will derail her career and resolves to stop him.
The 18th variation of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” appears several times, allowing this film to be known for its musical score.
While the Grand Hotel is known for its hospitality, this National Landmark has been able to stay current while continuing to beguile guests with charm and its heritage.
Beginning May 3, guests can take advantage of the Grand Hotel’s Pre-Opening Package, and be one of the first guests as they reopen for the season. Additional information can be found on their website. For details about Mackinac Island visit the tourism bureau’s website.
Mackinac Island is accessible by driving to Mackinac City or St. Ignace and taking a ferry. The Starline Mackinac Island Ferry and Sheplar’s Mackinac Island Ferry offers round trip passage. The 16-min. tour offers a spectacular view of Lake Huron and the Straits of Mackinac Lighthouses. The island is also accessible by plane (Mackinac Island Airport) or private boat.