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“World's Finest Summer Resort” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Grand Hotel

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Grand Hotel
4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   286 Grand Avenue, P.O. Box 286, Mackinac Island, MI 49757   |  
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Ranked #5 of 13 Hotels in Mackinac Island
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
83 helpful votes 83 helpful votes
“World's Finest Summer Resort”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 21, 2008

I won’t pretend to be objective with my opinions about Grand Hotel. My wife and I have had an extended stay there every other year since 1988, and believe it to be the world’s finest summer hotel. We just returned last week from a ten-day stay, and had another great vacation. We have been close observers of the hotel and its operations through the years, and are pleased to share that things are still very much in top shape. The place pretty much speaks for itself: a well-run, festive, and relaxing resort that reflects the preferences of its Mid-west clients. The place has so many returning fans and is so universally admired across the Mid-west that I would not have normally provided this review. However, I was surprised to see some of the fairly recent and highly negative reviews, and wanted to comment.

The place is simply a spectacular physical plant, located at one of the most beautiful natural sites anywhere in this country. The weather, blue skies, lake views, and abundant flowers perfectly compliment the slower, horse-drawn atmosphere of a visit here. It is a summer hotel, so the brilliance of the surrounding nature flows into the hotel in the form of wild but complimentary décor reflecting the colors and presence of flowers and foliage. The physical plant is a blast back into time, with wood floors, decorative woodwork, and columns kept in proper historic condition. Even the occasional uneven floor and quirky bend in a hallway have been retained to remind you that you are not in another one of those Florida or East coast cookie-cutter resorts (like a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons).

A similar difference from typical resorts extends into the dining room experience. Professional waiters are recruited each year from the top resorts across northern Jamaica. Some, like the waiter we first encountered twenty years ago, have come back for many years. The service is paced in a slower, summer vacation manner. The waiters tend to leave diners alone for their vacation conversations, rather than hovering in the continual manner at your typical four-star establishment. I find that they really enjoy their profession -- which is quite respected in their home country – and find working at the hotel a good job.

The food is great. I dine regularly at top clubs and restaurants, and believe the Austrian chefs do a great job providing tasty and hot food that is entirely worth the price paid (equal to about $25 for breakfast and $60 for dinner). And, all of this is accomplished for 600-800 diners who arrive within about an hour of each other. If you are expecting service along the lines of a Ritz, want to dash through your meal, or don’t like a cheerful bustling atmosphere (something like Gallitories in New Orleans), than you probably won’t like Grand Hotel, or for that matter, Mackinac Island.

The rooms are exactly as advertised. Individual, a bit quirky, and festively decorated. For those of you who pay the lowest rate, you get a smaller accommodation and an inland view. Pay a bit more and you get the view – what do you expect? You pay that rate at a Ritz and you get the “city view”.

The overwhelming majority of people keep coming back to this institution for decades and even generations, and their patronage speaks a lot louder than folks who just simply don’t understand how to relax and enjoy yourselves in a Mid-west kind of way. The day this place becomes just another chain resort that operates according to a manual written by some window seat-demanding, wimpish, cry-baby, white glove-carrying, prissy will be the day of its demise. This is one of the best, most unique and enjoyable places anywhere and absolutely worth the money.

  • Liked — Food and service in dining room, and lake views from room.
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,388 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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English first
Batavia, IL
1 review
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2008

Beautiful grounds and views from the front. Pretentious staff with unwelcoming attitudes.

I really wanted to love The Grand. I'd been looking forward to seeing it for years. My wife, daughter and I walked along the sidewalk approaching the hotel and continued toward the front entrance - we planned to eat lunch there. Suddenly, a voice yelled from 50 yards behind us "EXCUSE ME...SIR?!" One of the staff ran after us and wanted to know if we were staying at the hotel. I told her we were just visiting for lunch. She insisted that we pay a $10/person fee to walk the grounds. If we stayed for lunch, they would apply the fee toward our lunch ($45/person).

At this point, I was feeling a little embarrassed (since she yelled at us in the middle of a crowd of people), but I was still willing to go for it. When we followed her back to the entrance where we needed to purchase the tickets, the man behind the counter was so rude that my wife insisted we leave immediately. She was right. We've been fortunate enough to stay and some wonderful resorts and hotels. I've never been to a hotel that was so unwelcoming. The policy to charge people for walking in front of the hotel is absurd. But the worst offense is the attitude of the staff. Inexcuseable.

Rick
Batavia, Illinois

  • Liked — Beautiful grounds
  • Disliked — staff attitudes and hotel policies
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
florida
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2008

The only thing Grand about THE GRAND HOTEL is the price. I do not mind paying a grand price for grand service and quality however these did not occur at this hotel.
The hotel is located on a very beautiful setting on Mackinac Island. The views from the hotel are stunning. However, staying at The Grand Hotel was average at best. The food quality is similar to that of a cafeteria and I felt more like cattle being herded than a patron at a restaurant. The dining room is very crowded and I was often bumped into and run over by the staff and other hotel guests. The luggage handling is confusing and trying to get information is difficult at best. Even getting a ride from the ferry to the hotel is difficult and there is a charge for that as well. I was very disappointed and I will not return to the Grand Hotel. However, I will return to Mackinac Island and stay at other places.

  • Liked — The views
  • Disliked — The service, food and accommodations
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
USA
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2008

This is a beautiful hotel with some very nice features, such as the manicured and beautiful grounds and a great heated pool. If you are fortunate enough to get a lakeview room, enjoy the view! Our biggest disappointment was the lack of professional wait staff in the dining room which left a "bad taste" in our mouth after both meals we were obligated to use there (dinner and breakfast). At both dinner and breakfast, the wait staff are more comfortable cleaning and setting tables than they are attending to the needs of the diners. After taking your order, basically they show up again to serve the courses and then keep a distance that is downright chilly: no refilling water glasses, coffee, ice tea or asking how your food tastes, etc. This happened to us at both meals and was common for most people around us; people got up to refill their own coffee cups at both dinner and breakfast because of the lack of attentiveness. The food is good, but you are so frustrated with the lack of basic service that you leave disappointed. I see from many other reviews on this webpage that ours was not an isolated experience and I've provided my review to the general manager in hopes that future guests enjoy better care than we recieved. This could be a 5-star experience all-around if they trained their staff to give 5-star service. It has nothing to do with the nationality of waiters-- look at any dining room on cruise ships (who provide excellent service)-- this is a lack of training and oversight by dining room managers. If you reserve at this hotel, maybe you can decline the dinner/breakfast meals and just pay a lower room rate? I would have been happy with that arrangement and found a nice restaurant downtown: much as we did at every other hotel we enjoyed during our vacation.

  • Liked — Beautiful location, great views, nice pool
  • Disliked — Lack of professional wait staff in dining room
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West New York, New Jersey
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2008

My husband and I have just returned from a trip from visiting our friends in Michigan. While there they took us up to Mackinac City and Island. it was sooooo beautiful. While there we went to see ' The Grand Hotel' and I was shocked to learn that there was a $15 entrance fee and signs up that read after 6pm ladies must be in skirts not only in the hotel but on the grounds!
I've stayed in Quebec's Chateau Frotenac and The One and Only resort in the Bahamas. Both of these resorts are very well known and more expensive than ' The Grand' and have never charged anyone an entrance fee or had a dress code. I think it's very silly to do that nowadays anyway.

Lauren Murphy

Stayed August 2008
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
East Coast
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2008

We just returned from a family trip to the Grand Hotel. We had several rooms and used many of the hotel's facilities. While we enjoyed the views, we had major issues with the rooms and service. These ranged from confusion about luggage delivery and pick up, very slow service in the dining room, thin doors that let in the noise from the hallway ( many children...) , loud air conditioning, the pool closing at 6pm, insufficient newspapers for sale in the morning, etc...

We also encountered unhelpful and uninformed staff when making our reservations and checking in- though we also met some very helpful staff members who tried to accomodate our requests for a room change. It is not easy for the often inexperienced, foreign staff to deal with the number and variety of guests- from fundraisers attending a seminar and lawyers attending education sessions to many young couples , honeymooners, groups of tourists, daytrippers, etc...

Overall, the facilities and service were characteristic of a mid-priced hotel, the food was acceptable though mass-produced, but the location is excellent. Make sure you get a room with a view of the lake.

  • Liked — Views
  • Disliked — Service
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kansas City
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 2, 2008

My husband, daughter, and mother stayed at the Grand for one night in July. We booked a Category III room, a larger room with a view of the lake. Miraculously we were upgraded to a suite, with a large semi-circular parlor and two bedrooms, one with a king, and the other with two doubles. This was absolutely perfect for our stay.

Even without the upgrade, I think we would have loved our stay. Swimming in the Esther Williams pool was fun. Dinner was a fun experience, where we found the food to be good and the wait staff excellent and attentive.

But the most fun were the 'extras' throughout the day. The grounds were lovely, and we were able to view a wedding from the long porch. After dinner a harpist was playing in the parlor. She was very good, and even though we were on our way to somewhere else, we sat down to listen for a while, as it was beautiful. Up in the cupola we watched the sunset while listening to a pianist. Then the Grand Hotel Orchestra played in the Terrace Room. I even got my deaf-to-music husband to dance a little! Everyone was having a great time, with kids dancing with their parents, couples, and others just dancing in a group. It was a very enjoyable. We heard two bands which were both good.

For breakfast, I would recommend using the buffet instead of ordering off the menu. It took 45 minutes from the time we sat until we got our menu-ordered food. By this time my husband was completely done with his buffet meal. You expect and even desire a relaxed dinner, but I expected faster for breakfast.

We looked upon this trip as a once in a lifetime, and felt the price was well worth it. As I said, you are paying for more than just a room and two lovely meals. You are also paying for the beautiful grounds, the parlor entertainment, and cutting up the rug all night long!

  • Stayed July 2008, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Grand Hotel

Address: 286 Grand Avenue, P.O. Box 286, Mackinac Island, MI 49757
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Michigan > Upper Peninsula > Mackinac County > Mackinac Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 13 Hotels in Mackinac Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Grand Hotel 4*
Number of rooms: 385
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to America’s Summer Place. Every year since 1887, Grand Hotel has welcomed guests and families to Mackinac Island, where cars are not allowed and bikes and horse drawn carriages are the favored modes of transportation. As Travel + Leisure’s 500 World’s Best Hotels and Conde Nast Traveler's Top 5 Midwest Resorts in 2012, Grand Hotel offers outstanding accommodations where no two guest rooms are alike. Enjoy spectacular views of the Straits of Mackinac in a rocking chair on the world’s largest porch,complimentary children's programs, The Jewel golf course, swimming, tennis, lawn games, gardens, bicycling, carriage tours, shopping, Sadie's Ice Cream Parlor, and an experience you will never forget. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Grand Hotel Mackinaw Island Michigan
Grand Hotel Mackinac Island Michigan
Grand Hotel Island Mackinaw
Grand Mackinac Island

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