MI Travel Guide

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Detroit Fire Station to Become Foundation Hotel, Poles Included

Where: 250 West Larned [map], Detroit, MI, United States
April 4, 2014 at 10:46 AM | by | Comments (0)

Our calls have been answered!The former headquarters building of the Detroit Fire Department officially be turned into the Foundation Hotel in late 2015 after an extensive renovation.

Aside from the novelty of staying in an old fire house, you have to feel at least a little comfort in knowing that the building was probably (we hope) up to speed on its fire protection and alarm systems. If nothing more, it is a cool building that should translate well into a 100-room boutique hotel. And maybe, this could be the start of a new trend since Andre Balzas is turning another fire station in London into a hotel.

The new hotel in Detroit will be managed by Chicago-based Aparium Hotel Group, who also operate the Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, another historic building conversion. The fire house building, located at 250 West Larned in Downtown Detroit, once accommodated most of the city's emergency fire service needs. The building is included in the National Register of Historic Places, though oddly it is not a city or state-listed landmark.

It was built in 1929 in the popular Neoclassical style that dressed up many a governmental building. It remained a working fire station until 2011, after which it was used as headquarter offices.

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Grand Rapids Will Have an Iconic Hotel to Go with its Iconic Art Museum

March 14, 2014 at 1:02 PM | by | Comments (0)

So an architect designs an art museum, the first in the world to earn LEED Gold Certification, then a few years later gets a new hotel gig across the street. That makes sense and it's nice work if you can get it. CWD Real Estate Investment, developer of the property in Downtown Grand Rapids in Michigan, is banking that it will make dollars and cents when its "hotel that kinda looks like a museum" opens in 2016.

The new 5-story hotel, as yet unnamed or branded, is being designed by Thai architect Kulupat Yantrasast of wHY Architecture, who now practices in the US. Yantrasastís works have mostly been museums of which the neighboring Grand Rapids Art Museum made him a bit of an icon. CWD wants an equally iconic hotel and from the looks of the digital image above, their wish will come true.

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Historic Detroit Firehouse May Become Boutique Hotel

March 19, 2013 at 2:38 PM | by | Comments (0)

Say what you want about Detroit and its bad rap, we think itís a seriously inventive city that wonít let hard knocks destroy its spirit and we've said just as much on our brother site, Jaunted. Itís the place that'll take an old 1929 brick firehouse and decide to turn it into a $23 million boutique hotel.

The Detroit City Council is being asked to approve a deal to sell the Hans Gehrke-designed building across from Cobo Center to developer Walter Cohen and his group, 21 Century Holdings. The price? Just $1.25 million. Thatís cheaper than a Brooklyn condo, to give you some perspective.

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Hotels for Plane Spotting: The Westin at Detroit-Metro Airport

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 2501 Worldgateway Place [map], Detroit, MI, United States, 48242
September 11, 2012 at 4:32 PM | by | Comments (0)

Airport hotels get a pretty bad rap. Sure, there are the greasy, grimy ones, but we like to think that for every one of those, there's a perfectly clean business-friendly one—or, even better, an airport hotel with the luxury of an airport view. All this week we'll be taking a look at a few of our favorite hotels for plane spotting.

Today: The Westin at Detroit-Metro Airport.

Detroit-Metro Airport (DTW) consists of two terminals; this is important to know because they're far apart, with separate freeway exits and everything. For plane spotting, you'll want to hit up the larger, newer of the two: McNamara. At the center of its 70+ gates is the Westin, with easy access to the in-terminal tram and its own TSA security lane and everything. It's pretty nifty.

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Up at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel: Afternoon Tea for All

July 20, 2012 at 4:11 PM | by | Comments (0)

How many US hotels do you know that've reached 125 years of business? Well, The Grand Hotel of Michigan's Mackinac Island is one of 'em, as well as being one of the last surviving wooden construction hotels. Its history is long and tumultuous, but its summers are sunny. This week, we'll take a look around the Victorian property and the features and amenities that have made it a top seasonal destination for the last century-and-a-quarter.

Today: Afternoon Tea at The Grand Hotel

We may have spent nearly all week showing you the nooks and crannies that guests may enjoy at the 125-year-old Grand Hotel, but there is one very large way they welcome non-guests: with traditional afternoon tea.

Mackinac Island has its share of daytrippers and budget travelers just as it has the luxury and season-long visitors. Paying $400/night for the Grand isn't always feasible; for some it's a dream stay to work towards, but in the meantime there's always tea. The Grand Hotel charges non-guests $10 per person and enforces a basic dress code to enter the building, to prevent the place being overrun. While you're there, afternoon tea is only $25 per person (compare to $30+ in Chicago and $36+ in New York).

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Up at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel: The Esther Williams Swimming Pool Endures

July 19, 2012 at 6:47 PM | by | Comments (0)

How many US hotels do you know that've reached 125 years of business? Well, The Grand Hotel of Michigan's Mackinac Island is one of 'em, as well as being one of the last surviving wooden construction hotels. Its history is long and tumultuous, but its summers are sunny. This week, we'll take a look around the Victorian property and the features and amenities that have made it a top seasonal destination for the last century-and-a-quarter.

Today: The grounds of The Grand Hotel

There's an excellent story that The Grand's historian, Bob Tagatz, tells. Hearing him deliver it is, naturally, leaps and bounds better than reading it here from us, but we're going to share it anyway.

The Grand Hotel has always been known for offering activities to fill those summer days spent lounging on the 600-foot-long porch (largest porch in the world, they claim). Today, those activities include croquet and bocce on the lawn, vintage baseball games, weekends dedicated to jazz or ballroom dancing and, always, live music. Rewind to 100 years ago—or 125. Seasonal resorts competed to draw the summer crowds by varying their entertainment, and The Grand had to keep up.

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Beach Town Surprise at Lake Michigan's Harbor Lights Resort

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 15 S. Second Street, PO Box 1039 [map], Frankfort, MI, United States, 49635
July 19, 2012 at 12:31 PM | by | Comments (0)

Kite flying and beach views from our room at Harbor Lights Resort

Traveling through Michiganís beach towns last week, we were looking for something special, a beach hotel that was out of the out ordinary. Maybe it was for lack of an ocean, though Lake Michigan is so vast and impressive that itís easy to be fooled. But we wanted a hotel with a little magic, a lot of sand and all the right amenities.

Pulling into Harbor Lights Resort right in lesser-known Frankfort, Michigan, we had a feeling this was the place. It wasnít that anything was wildly impressive about the exterior of Harbor Lights, though it is a pretty complex with shades of dark gray and white. It was more that there was something about the place itself.

We often talk about tangible hotel amenities, but this hotel was all about the atmosphere. Harbor Lights is located at the end of Frankfort's main drag right on the beach, and though we were only in the parking lot and couldnít yet see the water, we spied the tip of a lighthouse, the sun going down and sand on the walkways. You could hear the gulls and occasional motorized watercraft, but also the quiet din of a secluded beach. It was all the magic we needed... and we weren't even in our room yet.

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Up at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel: Dining and Drinking

July 18, 2012 at 4:43 PM | by | Comments (0)

How many US hotels do you know that've reached 125 years of business? Well, The Grand Hotel of Michigan's Mackinac Island is one of 'em, as well as being one of the last surviving wooden construction hotels. Its history is long and tumultuous, but its summers are sunny. This week, we'll take a look around the Victorian property and the features and amenities that have made it a top seasonal destination for the last century-and-a-quarter.

Today: The restaurants, bars and food at The Grand Hotel

There are signs next to the elevators, notes in the daily schedule and reminders on the lobby's bulletin board. "Seven ways to lunch," they say. "Cocktail of the day." It quickly becomes apparent that dining at The Grand Hotel—whether it's petit fours with afternoon tea or the 5-course formal dinner—is an integral part of The Grand experience.

Despite the variety of dining and drinking venues (more than you could experience with just a 2-night stay), it's actually not that difficult to enjoy several, since the majority of the room packages at The Grand are Full American Plan, meaning your breakfast, lunch and dinner and some gratuities are included.

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Up at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel: Inside a Room

July 17, 2012 at 5:54 PM | by | Comments (0)

How many US hotels do you know that've reached 125 years of business? Well, The Grand Hotel of Michigan's Mackinac Island is one of 'em, as well as being one of the last surviving wooden construction hotels. Its history is long and tumultuous, but its summers are sunny. This week, we'll take a look around the Victorian property and the features and amenities that have made it a top seasonal destination for the last century-and-a-quarter.

Today: Inside a regular room at The Grand

No two rooms of the 385 are alike at The Grand Hotel. Many hotels make this claim by changing the artwork or bedding but, at The Grand, the differences are substantial and noteworthy: custom wallpapers (264 specially designed for The Grand), custom colors (22 specially mixed colors), custom furniture (some taken from estates owned by the likes of Joan Crawford) and the banning of the color beige across the board. These are the opposite of the cookie-cutter, corporate hotel room; they are the vision of interior designer Carlton Varney, protťgť of Dorothy Draper and infamous fiend for color and prints.

We checked into Room 484 on the top floor of the building, with a view down the main street connecting the hotel to town and the harbor. This being our first visit to the hotel, our initial room reaction was one of "hmm, okay this is interesting. We shall see." It was very feminine, very pretty and very...grand.

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Up at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel: Getting There

July 16, 2012 at 5:46 PM | by | Comments (0)

How many US hotels do you know that've reached 125 years of business? Well, The Grand Hotel of Michigan's Mackinac Island is one of 'em, as well as being one of the last surviving wooden construction hotels. Its history is long and tumultuous, but its summers are sunny. This week, we'll take a look around the Victorian property and the features and amenities that have made it a top seasonal destination for the last century-and-a-quarter.

Today: Getting to The Grand Hotel

In the United States, there are the Great Lakes. In the Great Lakes, there is an island. On this island—Mackinac Island—there is a hotel. And at this hotel there is a fleet of carriages. To get to the airport, you must take a carriage. To get to the ferry, you must take a carriage. There are no cars on Mackinac Island, but there are these horse-drawn carriages of The Grand Hotel.

Now that we've already detailed how exactly to reach Mackinac Island, it's time to make that final mile up to the historical hotel and its white columned porch, which holds that title of "longest porch in the world." Grabbing a "taxi" at the ferry docks means hopping in a carriage, but guests of The Grand have the varnished wood ones complete with driver in top hat and finery.

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Unwrapping Mackinac Islandís Grand Hotel on Its 125th Birthday

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 286 Grand Ave., P.O. Box 286, Mackinac Island, MI, 49757
July 13, 2012 at 12:39 PM | by | Comments (2)


A look inside Grand Hotel's new horse and carriage stable on opening day

Weíve all seen Grand Hotelís striking front porch photo, the worldís largest at 600 feet. Set against the giant white wood-framed hotel, the blue waters of car-less Mackinac Island, the bursts of red geraniums, this famous porch gets lots of love and for good reason; the lofty, wrap-around water views are remarkable from here.

Looking Beyond the Front Porch
We just so happen to be rocking a chair on the porch right now as weíre here celebrating the hotelís 125th anniversary, and the views really are quite outstanding.

But so are the views inside this giant treasure chest of a hotel. And with so many special events happening here through the weekend (Tuesday marked the Grand Hotelís official 125th birthday) we canít imagine a better time to pop off the lid and look around inside.

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Is Downtown Detroit Ready for a 400-Room Crowne Plaza?

April 3, 2012 at 5:03 PM | by | Comments (3)

Could there be actual good news on the horizon for Detroit and its (lack of) hotel scene? The Free Press reports that a hotel developer is working with IHG to create a Crowne Plaza Detroit in what was once the Hotel Pontchartrain/Hotel Riverside near the convention centre.

That's 413 rooms to come back onto the market possibly next year, though the bigger news is still the in-development Aloft Downtown Detroit. At 136 rooms, the Aloft won't have the bulk of the Pontchartrain, but will have a position in a landmark, Burnham-designed building and an overall fresher design.

If both plans come through, the Aloft and Crown Plaza will debut around the same time—late-ish 2013. Fingers crossed that it coincides with the beginning of a boom in interest in Detroit. We already don't mind going to hang out in Motown; now it's time for others to follow.

[Photo: Wikimedia]