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Grand Hotel (Mackinac Island)

Coordinates: 45°51′4″N 84°37′33″W / 45.85111°N 84.62583°W / 45.85111; -84.62583
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Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel as seen from Lake Huron
Grand Hotel (Mackinac Island) is located in Michigan
Grand Hotel (Mackinac Island)
Location in Michigan
Grand Hotel (Mackinac Island) is located in the United States
Grand Hotel (Mackinac Island)
Location in United States
Location286 Grand Avenue, Mackinac Island, Michigan, US
Coordinates45°51′4″N 84°37′33″W / 45.85111°N 84.62583°W / 45.85111; -84.62583
ArchitectMason & Rice[1] Alphonse Howe & Charles Caskey, builders
assisted by John O. Plank[2][3]
Architectural styleQueen Anne
NRHP reference No.72000637
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMay 5, 1972[5]
Designated NHLJune 29, 1989[6]
Designated MSHSJuly 12, 1957[4]

The Grand Hotel is a historic hotel and coastal resort on Mackinac Island, Michigan, a small island located at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac within Lake Huron between the state's Upper and Lower peninsulas. Constructed in the late 19th century, the facility advertises itself as having the world's largest porch. The Grand Hotel is known for a number of notable visitors, including five U.S. presidents, inventor Thomas Edison, and author Mark Twain.

Grand Hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[7]


Mackinac Island National Park became the second National Park in the United States in 1875 (before becoming a Michigan State park in 1895). This led to a large increase in visitors to the island.[8] In 1886, the Michigan Central Railroad, Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, and Detroit and Cleveland Steamship Navigation Company formed the Mackinac Island Hotel Company. The group purchased the land on which the hotel was built and construction began, based upon the design by Detroit architects Mason and Rice. When it opened the following year, the hotel was advertised to Chicago, Erie, Montreal and Detroit residents as a summer retreat for vacationers who arrived by lake steamer and by rail from across the continent. The hotel opened on July 10, 1887, after taking a mere 93 days to complete. At its opening, nightly rates at the hotel ranged from $3 to $5 a night (equivalent to $101.73–169.56 in 2023).[9][10]

In 1957, the Grand Hotel was designated a State Historic Building. In 1972, the hotel was named to the National Register of Historic Places, and on June 29, 1989, the hotel was made a National Historic Landmark.[11]

In September 2019, Dan Musser III announced that his family, which owned the hotel "for nearly nine decades", was selling it to KSL Capital Partners.[12]


Grand Hotel

Carleton Varney, a protégé of Dorothy Draper, decorated the Grand Hotel in late 19th-century decor, including Pelargonium geraniums. Varney purposely designed the hotel so that all the rooms are different from each other in at least one aspect. There are four types of rooms: Category I, Category II, Category III, and Named Rooms. There are six two-bedroom suites consisting of two bedrooms connected by a parlor, of which two, the Grand Suite and the Carleton Varney Suite, overlook the Mackinac Bridge and the Straits of Mackinac. The presidential suite is located in the center of the hotel with a balcony over the porch. A detached structure added in early 2000 was named the Masco Cottage.[13]

Additionally, seven suites are named for and designed by seven former First Ladies of the United States. These are the Jacqueline Kennedy Suite (with carpet that includes the gold presidential eagle on a navy blue background and walls painted gold), Lady Bird Johnson Suite (yellow damask-covered walls with blue and gold wildflowers), Betty Ford Suite (green with cream and a dash of red), Rosalynn Carter Suite (with a sample of china designed for the Carter White House and wall coverings in Georgia peach), Nancy Reagan Suite (with signature red walls and Mrs. Reagan's personal touches), Barbara Bush Suite (designed with pale blue and pearl and with both Maine and Texas influences), and the Laura Bush Suite (decorated with bright cream and floral patterns inspired by the Texas prairie).[14]

Grand Hotel's front porch is the longest in the world at some 660 feet (200 m) in length, overlooking a vast Tea Garden and the resort-scale Esther Williams swimming pool.[15] These areas are often used by guests on a casual family vacation, for larger conventions, or concerts during the hotel's annual Labor Day Jazz Festival. The hotel has drawn some criticism for its policy of charging a $12 fee for non-guests to enter the building and enjoy the view from the famous porch.[16]

Before 2007, air conditioning was only available in public rooms, such as the lobby, parlor and Salle a Manger (main dining room). Due to the building's design it was difficult to add air conditioning to the guest rooms.[14] That year, the entire hotel became air conditioned after 170 guest rooms were installed with heat exchangers which cool the air through contact with the bathroom cold water system.[17][18]

Mackinac Island does not permit motor vehicles (except for emergency vehicles and, in winter, snowmobiles), and transport to and from the dock to the hotel is via horse-drawn carriage. The only other motor vehicles allowed in recent history were cars brought over for the filming of Somewhere in Time. During the winter months, when ice prevents ferry transport from the mainland, the hotel is closed. The island also has a small airport (no fuel or services) for private aircraft. Horse-drawn taxis take guests from the airport to the hotel or any other island destination.[19]

Notable events[edit]

President Gerald Ford golfing on the "Grand" (front) nine of Grand Hotel's golf course, The Jewel, on July 13, 1975

U.S. Presidents Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton have visited the hotel. The hotel also hosted the first public demonstration of Thomas Edison's phonograph on the porch, as well as regular demonstrations of Edison's other new inventions. Mark Twain also made this a regular location on his speaking tours in the Midwest.[20]


Conde Nast Traveler "Gold Lists" the hotel as one of the "Best Places to Stay in the Whole World" and Travel + Leisure magazine lists it as among the "Top 100 Hotels in the World." The Wine Spectator noted the Grand Hotel with an "Award of Excellence" and it was included in Gourmet magazine's "Top 25 Hotels in the World" list. The American Automobile Association (AAA) rates the facilities as a four-diamond resort[21] and in 2009 named the Grand Hotel one of the top 10 U.S. historic hotels.[22]

In popular culture[edit]

The Grand Hotel served as a backdrop and one of the settings for the 1980 film Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Every October the hotel hosts an annual convention for fans of the classic.

The hotel also served as the setting for the 1947 musical comedy This Time for Keeps starring entertainer Jimmy Durante and swimmer Esther Williams (after whom the hotel's swimming pool is named).[20][23]

The hotel was the origin of the first World Sauntering Day in the 1970s.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eckert, Kathryn Bishop (1993). Buildings of Michigan. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 550–51. ISBN 978-0-19-509379-7.
  2. ^ Ast, William F. III (September 7, 2010). "Descendant of Grand Hotel Builder Donates Wealth of Information". The Herald-Palladium. Benton Harbor, MI. Retrieved September 8, 2010.
  3. ^ Denby, Elaine (2004). Grand Hotels: Reality and Illusion. Reaktion Books. p. 38. ISBN 1-86189-121-0.
  4. ^ Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (2009). "Grand Hotel". Historic Sites Online. Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  6. ^ "Grand Hotel". National Historic Landmark Summary Listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on October 8, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  7. ^ "Grand Hotel r". Historic Hotels of America. National Trust for Historic Preservation. Archived from the original on November 7, 2020. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  8. ^ Janiskee, Bob (May 10, 2011). "Pruning the Parks: Mackinac National Park (1875-1895)". National Parks Traveler. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  9. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  10. ^ "Grand Hotel: Hotel & History". Grand Hotel. Grand Hotel. Archived from the original on June 5, 2004. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  11. ^ "List of National Historical Landmarks" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved November 25, 2007.
  12. ^ Williams, Corey (September 11, 2019). "Owners of Mackinac Island's iconic Grand Hotel announce sale". Jackson Hole News & Guide. Associated Press. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  13. ^ Knowles, Gary. "Cruising to Mackinac Island". Madison Magazine. Archived from the original on February 12, 2007. Retrieved June 7, 2007.
  14. ^ a b "Grand Hotel: Named Rooms". Grand Hotel. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  15. ^ "Front Porch of Grand Hotel—Mackinac Island". The Best Up North. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  16. ^ "Grand Hotel: Trip Advisor Reviews". Trip Advisor. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  17. ^ "Modern Upgrade for Mackinac's Grand Hotel". Walker, MI: WZZM-TV. Associated Press. Retrieved June 6, 2007. [dead link]
  18. ^ "About Grand Hotel". Grand Hotel. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
  19. ^ Dearle, Brian. "Mackinac Island". The New Colonist. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  20. ^ a b "Grand Hotel: Facts". Grand Hotel. Archived from the original on May 27, 2007. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  21. ^ "Cruising to Mackinac Island". Madison Magazine. Archived from the original on February 12, 2007. Retrieved June 7, 2007.
  22. ^ Hunter, Heather (June 23, 2009). "AAA Inspectors Pick Their Top Ten Historic Hotels for Independence Day" (Press release). American Automobile Association. Archived from the original on April 2, 2010. Retrieved June 25, 2009.
  23. ^ "This Time For Keeps". IMDB. Archived from the original on March 27, 2007. Retrieved June 6, 2007.

External links[edit]