We visit the island at least once a year and have stayed at Grand Hotel several times. We most recently stayed last year for a weekend, but this is a review of the hotel as a family resort from a week-long stay with our kids (then 14, 11, and 4) a few years ago.
Most people asked what in the world we did on the island for a whole week, but honestly we left not having done many of the things on our list. The older kids went to the pool, played games in the parlor (now Sadie’s trophy room), hung in the arcade (complementary tokens given out), and endlessly explored the island on their bikes. Mackinac is a safe place and our only instruction, after arming them with a cell phone, was, “Don’t get on a ferry”. They loved the freedom. Our younger daughter went to the children’s programs for about three hours each day, which included lunch and is complementary…that’s a remarkable amenity! For any families more accustomed to the $50 - $80 daily fees at other resorts, this is a huge savings. Rebecca’s Room is like a giant play room where younger kids can play, draw, read, whatever. We also played bocce and croquet on the lawn, enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails and Cokes on the porch while the kids played giant chess, and ran over to the Jockey Club in pajamas for s’mores at night. There is a special menu for kids at dinner as well as a buffet of favorites like pizza, chicken nuggets, and mac n’ cheese.
There are a lot of adult evening options in the hotel and related restaurants, but we hung out mostly at the Audubon and Cupola when we weren't in town. You’ll see the same servers in different locations throughout the week, and they’ll remember what you drink. The service throughout the hotel is consistently very good and frequently outstanding. One night we mentioned to the sommelier how bummed the kids were that the pretzel bread served at dinner isn’t available at breakfast. The next morning: pretzel bread in our breakfast basket. Service does occasionally lack (ironically, often at the main restaurant, Salle a Manger), but if you have a problem tell someone because our experience is that service recovery is taken seriously. I was not happy with our server at dinner one night and the maitre d’ came by to correct the situation immediately. The food is generally very good but we have had a few disappointing misses, along with a couple of questionable management choices (Lipton tea at breakfast? Really?).
We upgraded to a lake view room, requesting more space over a better view, and got a great dbl/dbl room with a rollaway that had plenty of space for our family. I’ve stayed all over the hotel and I’m certain this was one of the largest rooms that isn’t a suite. We couldn’t have put our whole family comfortably in some of the smaller interior rooms.
A general note about the rooms and the setting: this is an historic hotel and the entire guest experience is designed to reflect that. It creaks, it has exposed fire code pipes, the televisions are grudgingly included, and I'd never decorate my family room like this. But there is something cool about getting a metal key that says Room #8 instead of a plastic card for room 2019. If your expectation of a great vacation setting is the Emirates Palace, this might not be the place for you. I was one who was mildly disappointed when the A/C was installed. We find it elegant but comfortable, where we can relax, sink into the lobby sofas and laugh with the kids without getting the stink eye from some disapproving matron. We don’t let them run through the hallways and there is a dress code to respect, but that’s just common courtesy. Proper dress is required on the main floor, porch, and entertainment areas. The 4-yr-old daughter loved dressing up; the tweenaged son…not so much. Guests wearing jeans or other casual clothes in the evenings can exit/enter the hotel near the salon and take the elevator by Marlee’s gallery to the guest room floors upstairs.
Away from the hotel on the island there are so many things to do besides eat far too much fudge: take horses through the trails up island, hire a carriage to tour the residential areas, fly kites. Some things we weren’t sure about, or thought would be lame, were more fun than we thought. We hadn’t been to the Fort in a few years and ended up staying way longer than expected. The new Manoogian Art Museum is an absolute gem, with a space downstairs where kids can spend a lot of time coloring, drawing, and generally creating whatever they feel like. Highly recommended! Behind the museum, off the park, there is a stairway that leads up to the East Bluff. If you walk it at night tons of bats will fly around you. It gives me the heebiejeebies but the kids think it’s awesome.
If you’re considering where to take your family, Grand Hotel is a super option. Check their website for packages with rooms and you'll find rooms for 2012 from $310/night in the summer, less than many other island hotels. We’ve been to some great family resorts in the US (Wequassett, The Broadmoor, and Sea Island/ The Cloister) but our favorite is Grand Hotel. We’ll be back again this summer
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Hotel Mackinaw Island Michigan
- Grand Hotel Mackinac Island Michigan
- Grand Hotel Island Mackinaw
- Grand Mackinac Island