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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 | ()

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.

The Parlor on Grand Hotel's lobby floor

A Present Turned Inside Out
We have the Grandís resident historian, Bob Tagatz, to thank for sharing the best insight yet on the hotelís interior. In a free history lecture given right on the front porch, Tagatz shared a conversation he once had with the hotelís interior designer of 35 years, Carleton Varney, on how best to describe the interior. Varney said to tell guests itís their birthday and they have a choice of presents: one is wrapped in brown paper, the other in green and white striped paper with pink flowers, ribbons and bows. What would they choose? Of course the fancy package which, of course, represents the Grand.

Varney went on to say that the hotelís interior Ė the walls, floors and ceiling, and furnishing Ė are the gift wrapping around the summer memories and experience the Grand Hotel has forever focused on delivering.

No AC in Grand Hotel's offsite resto, The Woods, but the rich, deep woods interior is fascinating

We had not before thought of a hotel as a wrapped present and the metaphor brought the entire Grand Hotel experience full circle for us. It was the perfect explanation for the ornate, quirky and yet wildly stylish and posh interior of Grand Hotel. Every wall is laden with stories and kitsch nodding to everything from presidents and celebrities who have stayed at the hotel to the islandís military history and the hotel's first days in 1887.

Ticky tacky turns cool when a hotel room becomes a present!

The 385-room hotel features 264 different wallpapers and 22 registered colors throughout, which means no two walls or rooms in Grand Hotel are alike. New rooms and additions keep popping up throughout, including the new Founders Suite. Built in the Victorian era, romantic embellishments reign supreme and speak to the hotelís beginning as a magical, exclusive resort meant to sweep you away. From the Cupola Bar at the very top of the hotel with its cosmic carpet and flowery chandelier to the lobby Parlor with bright strokes of green, red and black, the Grand Hotel is a bricolage of history, color and surprise. Itís a blast to unwrap.

A closer look at our room wallpaper -- just one of 264 kinds to find at Grand Hotel

The Celebration Continues
Guests arriving today are in for a treat, too, with some of the anniversary celebrationís best events scheduled through Sunday. Already this week the hotel revealed a beautiful new stable with a family-friendly soiree (check out the antique Victorian carriages), a 125-foot cake served on the porch and a $125 Anniversary Cocktail made with Remy Martin Louis XIII Cognac (thereís also a $15 knockoff celebration cocktail).

Still to come are fireworks and Veuve Cliquot on the front porch, a Q&A with the owning Musser family, a talk with Varney, a golf tournament, a Governerís Ball, and loads of live music in Grand Hotel style.

Don't miss a free history lecture on Grand Hotel with resident historian, Bob Tagatz

Thereís so much to see inside Grand Hotel we couldnít possibly fit it all in here, but look forward to more unwrapping over the next couple weeks.

Low rates are hard to come by at Grand Hotel right now as this is peak season, but we did find a great Bed and Breakfast package for four starting at $361.

Photos: Nina Kokotas Hahn

Archived Comments:

That room...

reminds me of the ones at the Greenbrier in West Virigina. I am sure some people love this sort of decor but it kind of repulses me. I do like the dining room and the stables tho. And the nifty wallpaper!

But the view...

I had the same initial response walking into the room until I looked out the window. Situated right above the massive porch with views spanning the garden, pool, Lake and lighthouse, it all came together. Like stepping into a time warp of sorts.