The hotel was financed and built by the Michigan Central Railroad, Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, and the Cleveland Steamship Navigation Co. Nearly 600 workers were hired to build the initial 200-room, frame [MI White Pine] hotel in 93 days. It opened in 1887 and 129 years later it's still a symbol of grandeur and charm.
The hotel has the world's longest colonnaded front porch [660 ft.] which overlooks the Tea Garden and Lake Huron. I took the photos below early in the morning before the porch filled with guests.
Built during the Gilded Age, it was a luxurious retreat from big city dust, noise, and heat during the summer season [May - Oct.]. Room rates were $3-$5 a night. The hotel's architectural design is Colonial Revival.
The Grand literally rolls out the red carpet for its guests!
~ Main entrance into the Parlor. ~
The famous front porch has 2,500 geraniums - the hotel's trademark flower - planted in 260 white plant boxes. And who doesn't love seeing a row of American flags flying high above the porch!
The Grand has a horse-drawn 'taxi' to transport guests to and from Main Street for $5 per person. I didn't use it on this visit, but I did last year when it was raining.
It's one of the few places that still adheres to an evening dress code, for which I am grateful.
We had one last meal to enjoy at the Grand before leaving the island - breakfast in the main dining room. Although the menu offerings were completely different, our meal was just as good as dinner the night before.
[L-R: Teresa, Judith, and Lori]
[Barb, Teresa, and Judith]
Guests had the option of ordering off the menu, the buffet, or both.
I ordered off the menu: Cranberry Juice; Grits with Cinnamon Crumble; a Bacon, Cheddar and Ham Spanish Omelet with Breakfast Potatoes; and, of course, hot tea. The only perplexing question during our stay at the Grand was why they chose to put quality Harney & Sons loose-leaf tea sachets in all the rooms [a wonderful amenity], but skimped on offering only one choice of tea [Lipton's low-grade fannings grocery store teabags] for dinner and breakfast. It didn't make sense in view of everything else that is of highest quality.
After breakfast we went back to our rooms to call for luggage pick-up, and then checked out at the reservation desk. We were taking the 12:30 p.m. ferry back to the mainland, but we still had a little time to do some last minute shopping on the island before boarding the ferry.
Lori gives a farewell wave from the Grand lower level platform. It was a fabulous stay and everyone in our group enjoyed it immensely. Thanks to all the staff in every department for exceptional care.
Next post souvenir purchases, and afternoon stop on the mainland...