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The Grand Hotel

As we continue to battle one of the most oppressive summers ever, it occurred to me there may be some of you out there in blog land who might want to consider a place where you don’t talk about the heat index – a place where the daytime temp hovers around 80 degrees. Consider Mackinac Island and The Grand Hotel. The island has no cars and no smog, the air is cool and clean, air conditioners are optional, and you will wrap up in a pashmina at night and just say, “Ahhhhh.”

With that thought in mind, I set up an appointment with Bob Tagatz, resident historian at the Grand Hotelon Mackinac Island while on my family vacation. Bob knows everything about the history of the Grand Hotel and a bunch of weird facts which I will share with you later. The Grand Hotel truly is the grand dame of Mackinac Island. She’s classically beautiful, interesting, flirtatious and promises to deliver one great time if you stay with her. Can you imagine being built in1887 with the notoriety of being one of the world’s greatest summer resort?

The lobby of The Grand Hotel

If you can throw together a quick trip alone with your husband or significant other, I promise you, as a card carrying tour guide at Mackinac Island from 1975-1979, you will fall in love again and not look back. If you can’t do that, the Grand Hotel has tons of programs for kids.  In fact, they even serve free snow cones at the pool.

First, a quick history of the Grand. The Grand Hotel was built in 93 days with 600 laborers working 3 shifts a day and no electricity.  The Grand has had over 33 expansions over the years and is one of the most “green hotels” in the US.

Carlton Varney, president of  Dorothy Draper & Company of New York, the oldest established interior decorating firm in the US, is the Grand’s formidable and quite famous decorator.

Carlton Varney


Mr. Varney continues to embrace Ms Draper’s motto, “shock you without clashing you.”  With that theme in mind, the Grand is filled with bold graphic patterns embellished with splashes of geranium pink, cornwall blue and county club greens.  And yes, each of the 385 suites and rooms have a completely unique decor.




Here are some of Bob’s fun facts..

  • The Grand Hotel plants over 5,000 geraniums in their flower beds on the grounds.
  • When golfing, the front nine is called the “Grand”, the second nine,” The Woods”, and they are separated by one and a quarter miles, and the only horse-drawn carriage ride between nines in the US.
  • Five U.S presidents have stayed there: Clinton, Bush, Ford, Kennedy and Truman.
  • More than 50,000 of the Grand’s most decadent and delicious signature desert, the famous pecan balls, are served each summer.

Once you get to Mackinac Island, you can bike, hike, swim, ride horseback and play tennis–all of these amenities are provided by the Grand or can be arranged by their staff.  The pool was made famous by the movie “This Time for Keeps” starring Ester Williams.  I haven’t seen the ghost of Ester around the pool, but they serve a drop dead delicious rum punch.

How to get there: If you book a trip from Nashville, you fly to Detroit or Chicago, quite inexpensively, on Southwest Airlines; you then connect via a puddle jumper to a small town called Pelston, MI.  Pelston is about 40 minutes south of Mackinac with shuttles running continually.  Once in Mackinac City, you can take a ferry – they run almost every 30 minutes to Mackinac Island.

Once there, the Grand Hotel with its impeccable customer service will cater to your ever need. Promise.

To book your next stay, call your travel agent or go the Grand’s website:

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