Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Grand Hotel - Mackinac Island, Michigan

Every state has its "crown jewels," and Mackinac Island is one of Michigan's.  The  island is  located in Lake Huron, at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac between the state's Upper and Lower Peninsulas.  High speed ferries transport people to and from the island in about 16 minutes.   The island became one of the nation's favored summer resort destinations during the Victorian era, and remains very popular today.

The famous Grand Hotel is probably the first place that comes to mind when you think of Mackinac Island, but there are many other wonderful places to visit while on the island as well.

[Internet Photo]

The hotel was built in 1887, with Michigan white pine lumber, in Queen Anne architectural styling.  It has 385 rooms with no two  decorated the same.   I've visited the island many times, but only stayed overnight on the island twice - once at the Grand Hotel and once at a Bed & Breakfast.   [Typically, we stay in Mackinaw City and ferry across to the island.]  Through the generosity of our son, we stayed in the Grand Hotel's Presidential Suite.   Five U.S. Presidents have visited the hotel.  While reading a framed letter from President Truman following his stay, I noticed an error [long before the days of computers with spell check].  As a secretary myself at the time, I took comfort in seeing even Presidential secretaries make mistakes!   ;-)

[Internet Photo]

The hotel boasts the world's largest porch - 660 feet long, overlooking a large tea garden and an Esther Williams swimming pool.

[Internet Photo]

There are no cars on the island.  Horse-drawn carriages and bikes are the mode of transportation.   My family and I have biked the island many times.  The 8.2 biking and jogging trails run along the perimeter of the island.   On one visit we passed the Michigan governor while he was taking his morning jog.  An official summer governor's residence is located on the island.   We have also taken the guided tour of the island in a horse drawn carriage.

The 1980 movie, "Somewhere in Time" starring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour,  was filmed at the Grand Hotel.

Any hotel that has an Afternoon Tea program is "grand" in my book!  As one tea director told me, "Tea always associates itself with high-end establishments."  The Grand Hotel serves Afternoon Tea daily from 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. in the "Parlor" [lobby].    The price of Afternoon Tea is $25.00 per person now, not $16  as printed on my souvenir May 27, 2002 menu.

Notice the green and red geranium border around the menu.  Carleton Varney was the Interior Designer for the Grand Hotel, and he used floral patterns with vibrant colors.  The carpeting is a red geranium pattern.

Chamber music is played during tea-time.  Below a violinist and pianist are pictured.

Tea-time table and servers are ready.

Our Server

Plated assorted savories [finger sandwiches], scones, fruit, and desserts were brought to our low table next to a sofa and chair.  The most unique food item served was a cup of salted nuts.  I had  never had that offered at tea-time, but I liked the salty option.  The tea served was English breakfast.

Located in the hotel is Carleton's Tea Store. 

They sell wonderful loose-leaf teas. I particularly enjoy a cherry flavored black tea they blend, and on more than one visit a tin of it has come home with me.   It's much more calorie friendly than the island's famous fudge made by Murdick's, Ryba's and others!  ;-)

I'm joining Bernideen's Tea Time blog today for "Friends Sharing Tea."


  1. Such a lovely post about a truly magical place.
    You have captured so many of the interesting and fun things about hotel and the acitvites they offer. Thank you for reminding me of the wonderful times I have spent on the front porch just enjoying the view from the rocking chairs.

  2. Hi Phyllis, You brought back memories of our trip to Mackinac Island a few years ago. It is an absolute wonderful place to visit!

  3. What a treat to go here. On my bucket list. A friend once said that she wanted to run down the hill screaming "Richard, Richard" from Somewhere in Time. I remember Victoria's features of the lilacs in bloom. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I've always wanted to visit!

  5. Hi Phyllis,
    I've enjoyed your post so much. I've been to the island many times also, and stayed in the Grand Hotel twice. I've never taken Tea at the hotel though. My daughter bought me the teacup and saucer they use at the hotel and I treasure it, bringing back lots of wonderful memories.
    Thanks for sharing,

  6. Beautiful! I have heard of this special place and when in Michigan I wish I had time to visit there. How wonderful to experience tea here too.

  7. Really luxury place!
    Cant' wait anymore and just want to be there.

  8. Oh myyyyyy! Mackinac Island was already on my Bucket List, but now it's even more so! Tea garden! Tea shop! MUST visit!


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