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Grand Hotel
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Reviewed October 16, 2009

Growing up in Michigan, the Grand Hotel has always been one of those "someday" destinations. As in, "Someday I will be wealthy enough to stay at the luxurious Grand Hotel".

We priced summer dates in 2008 and found the $500+ a night stay for the most basic room to be a little out of our price range (of course, this price included breakfast and dinner). So, when I saw a deal online that brought the total price down to under $260 for one night (including breakfast, but no dinner) for our family of 4, I jumped. I had read previous reviews, so I knew the hotel was old and the room decor was victorian floral ... so, I thought I was prepared.

We arrived at The Grand (I love saying that - it sounds so swanky) via horse drawn carriage after our island tour. We were immediately asked by the first employee we saw if we were hotel guests (I was prepared for this b/c of the reviews I had read - non hotel guests must pay $10 to roam the grounds). When we got to the check in desk, we had a bit of delay b/c the employee could not find our room key (they use actual metal keys on key rings here ... no plastic cards, our first sign of how old this hotel really is). The employee was apologetic and very nice ... but my kids were bored, so I decided to take them on a little walk down to the famous Esther Williams pool while DH waited for the key.

The walk to the pool was interesting. First, we were stopped by no less than 2 employees asking to see our room key (to which I replied that DH was still in line at the check in desk). Second, they were painting the hundreds of stairs leading down to the lawn that led to the pool ... so, I had to keep my kids out of the paint and to the right of the stairs at all times. These are pretty steep stairs and there are a lot of them.

Once we made it to the pool area, I took the kids for the "free" pool side snowcones I'd read about in the reviews. There was a snow cone cart with a bunch of scoop your own ice, snow cone cups and a large pump bottle of Gordon Food Service orange snow cone flavoring. My kids loved it - but I thought it was a bit of a letdown b/c I was expecting a cheery gentleman in a white suit with a candy cane striped bowtie asking me if I'd like a snow cone - not a bunch of drippy kids in swimsuits slopping orange syrup all over the pool deck while bees buzzed around.

Snowcones in hand, we found DH outside of the pool house and headed over to the lawn area where we parked the girls on a bench to eat their bounty. There were lawn games (bocci ball, horse shoes) set up and lots of people running around. The grounds were definatelty pretty and there were tons of flowers, etc.

Anyway, room key in hand, we headed up to find our room. Our room was an interior room - the cheapest room available - our view was of the roof building (the roof is dirty), some old barn/garage with bikes scattered about (employee parking, perhaps?) and other hotel rooms. The room itself was clean enough and quite spacious, but it was old and tired. The furniture was chipped, and the soft goods were faded and worn - this was really evident on the floral print dust ruffle - half of it was covered by the quilt and protected from fade, so it was very vibrant, the other half was exposed to the sun and just plain drab - the floral print chairs, and the curtains were just as drab as the faded part of the dust ruffle. The beds were actual 4 poster beds ... no headboard bolted to the wall (!) this also really dated the hotel, but I thought in a good way - when is the last time you stayed at a hotel with a free standing bed??!! But, the mattresses were kind of saggy. The room was also retrofitted for overhead sprinklers - so, there were exposed pipes on the entire ceiling. The bathroom seemed quite modern, but the hotel soaps were nothing to write home about - just seemed like typical hotel toiletries. Also, the hair dryer was not bolted down ... that was kind of neat - they trusted me not to steal the hair dryer!!! Now, that is classy.

After the brief room tour, my husband hustled the girls down to the pool for a swim before it closed (the pool closes quite early in the evening - I suppose so everyone can get dressed for dinner) while I freshened up. The pool was great according to all who swam.

We weren't eating in the main dining room b/c it wasn't included in our package. Instead, we walked down the hill to the Gate House restaurant for dinner. It was a cute/casual restaurant - on par with Chile's or something in terms of quality, but about double the cost (I think our bill was around $75 for the four of us - 2 adult meals, 2 kids' meals, no alcohol). After dinner, we walked back up to the main hotel. I was a bit nervous b/c I was not "dressed" for dinner ... neither was DH (he had a shirt and tie, but no coat). Turns out that I worried for nothing ... we didn't spot a single person on the way to our room.

Around 11:00pm, DH started complaining of a pounding headache. Niether of us had any pain reliever, so I sent him down to the lobby b/c I was sure there would be tylenol or something avaialable to purchase. Nope. Nothing. One of the employees even checked her own purse but came up empty.

The next moring, we packed up our bags and headed down to breakfast. Our servers were very attentive and the dining room was pretty grand (the grandest thing we'd seen so far), but the breakfast buffet left a lot to be desired. It was Big Boy quality with some crepes thrown in for good measure. Seriously, I was disappointed with the quality and the selection. But, on a positive note, the bathroom off the dining room was really cool and pretty.

After breakfast, we checked out and caught a transfer to the docks. It was a chilly, dreary morning and the forecast was calling for heavy rains by late morning - we wanted to get off the island and in our dry car before the storm hit.

Overall, I felt The Grand was just and old hotel getting by on reputation. The public areas were old and tired ... the floors creaked, the stairs were crooked and the couches seemed to be from the 1970's. In numerous places throughout the hotel, there were so many layers of old paint that the surface was sort of "soft" to the touch and you could easily have left an impression with your fingernail.

The staff did not seem at all snooty like I'd read in previous reviews. Yes, there were a lot of non-native English speakers, but everyone seemed pleasant.

I would have liked to spent some more time exploring the hotel, but we were pressed for time on our departure day due to weather.

My advice is this: if you must stay at The Grand Hotel to satisfy some desire to stay there, go ahead - just make sure you get some sort of deal b/c $500+ a night for a room with a horrible view is way too much to spend to sleep here and eat a couple of mediocre meals. But, if you just want to visit - pay the $10 fee and explore the grounds. I will not stay here again, but I would pay $10 to visit and walk around the grounds.

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled with family
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6  Thank fourwearytravelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 16, 2009

We stayed at the Grand Hotel for a marriage conference, and it was truly a luxurious experience. Staying there feels like a trip to the past, both because of the period decor, and because after 6 pm there is a 'dress code' (dresses for ladies, coats and ties for gentlemen). Our room wasn't huge, but it was spotless, and I'm sure there are bigger rooms available for a little extra money. Cool fact - every single guest room is decorated differently.

The real luxury of staying here was the meals. Breakfast and the Grand Luncheon Buffet were superb, but dinner was what justified to us the money we spent on the hotel. At a fancy restaurant, I'm sure that dinner would have cost half our hotel rate. An appetizer, soup, salad, and an incredible entree (sea salt and rosemary prime rib), plus dessert, all at a nice leisurely pace with live music. It's no wonder we had to dress up to eat dinner.

Staying here isn't cheap, but everything on the island is higher than normal. Perfect for a romantic getaway. But don't bother bringing kids - they just wouldn't appreciate the prime rib.

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled on business
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3  Thank duke86Lansing_MI
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 16, 2009

In October I went with 3 friends for a two night Fall getaway to Mackinac Island. We took advantage of the off-season rates and stayed at the Grand Hotel. We had all been to the island previously, but had never stayed at the Grand Hotel. The consensus was that we would all love to have a return visit. Although the weather was cold and damp, being on the island, and staying at the Grand Hotel in particular, provided a delightful change from our usual daily lives. The hotel is truly one of a kind. Perhaps it does not have all of the high gloss of today's mega hotel chains, but what it does have is character. The grounds are beautifully maintained (even in the cool autumn weather) and each room is decorated differently. From what I could see, they all had the same palette, using the geranium colors as the theme. Our room did not have a view (we looked out on a roof) but it was adequate and roomy. It was a bit jarring at first to see the exposed pipes in the ceiling, but updating a building from 1887 probably made them a necessity.

Breakfast was included as part of our hotel package and it was delicious, with excellent service. There was a choice of juice, fruit, main dish, and an assortment of breads/pastry. One of our party was delighted to see trout on the breakfast menu and ordered it both days. They also featured quiche, omelets, French toast, etc. The wait staff was friendly and attentive--we never had to ask for refills of coffee or water.

Even in the off-season, there is plenty to do at the hotel. We enjoyed the espresso and harp music each evening and also enjoyed the band music for the ballroom dancing. There are some shops in the hotel, free internet, areas for reading and cards, and game rooms. One of our favorite spots was the Cupola Bar. It is an intimate and uniquely decorated bar with a beautiful view of the bridge and the lakes.

The service throughout our stay was very good, with one exception at the end of our trip. Unfortunately, the hotel had one of our bags sent via the wrong ferry line to St. Ignace instead of Mackinaw City. I can see how this happens with their system of having guests leave bags in the hall for pickup and delivery to the ferry.

It would be interesting to see what a visit to the Grand Hotel would be like in the height of tourist season. It may very well take on a totally different atmosphere. As for our group, we thoroughly enjoyed spending a few autumn days relaxing in the elegant surroundings.

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled with friends
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2  Thank 4Hfriend
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 13, 2009

We have stayed numerous times at Grand Hotel on business trips (Mackinac is a popular conference destination in Michigan). This summer we stayed for the first time with our toddler (under 2 years old). It was AMAZAING! We were shocked at how family friendly the hotel was. Our little girl was treated like a princess by every member of the staff - the main dining room staff was the most attentive, friendly and accomodating. Without doubt, the dinners were the most enjoyable and memorable we have had with a toddler. On our second dinner, a woman come up to us and said, "I was hoping we would be seated near you again. We so enjoyed watching your daughter dance last night." Our daughter was able to run through the parlor, run up and down the porch, up and down the stairs, up and down the halls, etc. She had such a great time and we had a great time watching her be a kid and enjoyed staying in a hotel that welcomed little ones...

We had such a great time that we will make an extra trip to Grand Hotel annually with our family and not just for business.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with family
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Thank ELDerby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 11, 2009

Grand Hotel is a memorable trip back in time and a wonderful vacation experience. This trip was no exception. Again we found ourselves immersed in the atmosphere and enjoying every moment of it...from the endless hallways, each worthy of a tour just to see the endless array of beautiful carpets...to the wonderful 100 + year slanted stairways to the incredible porch. The decorating is an amazing burst of color and pattern...the parlor is so beautiful. I been to many hotels and never walked around taking pictures of carpeting and furnishings, until Grand Hotel.

Our room was again wonderful...and again as we toured the hallways every day we peeked in each room being made up and were again assured that we would love any room we were given. Service was immpecable as always....from housekeeping to the dining room...from the doorman to the servers at high tea...we were always treated well and with great efficiency, even though it was the "off season".

I find it hard to believe, but the food was even more amazing on this trip. The starters were very unique...saki & tangerine shrimp was my favorite, salad combinations were astonishing, soups superb...especially the cold soups...very flavorful. You could taste all of the fresh herbs picked below our balconey each morning. My favorite was the lavender in my brocollini. Main courses were perfection. My favorite was the halibut with calamari bolognese. When I mention to my waiter how wonderful it was he brought me an additional dish full of it. I was in heaven.

Grand Hotel is a totally relaxing experience. It rained a whole day of our trip and I was perfectly content to sit in the beautiful parlor, be served tea and enjoy a good book. I was so relaxed I believe I dozed for a bit..something I NEVER do in public.

We love dressing for dinner every night, watching the sunset from the top of the Cupola Bar before dinner...dancing after dinner. On this trip we wanted to watch the Packer game on one night so we went to Grand's Gate House and had a great time there as well.

I can't say enough about Grand Hotel. It is our favorite hotel in the states and we hope to return again and again.

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank schnig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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