Grand Celebrations to Mark 125 Years

Last month, Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel celebrated its 125th anniversary. To mark the occasion, guests enjoyed cocktail receptions, concerts and other fun activities – including a 125-foot birthday cake! Today on our blog, Ken Hayward, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the historic Mackinac Island establishment, shares a recap of the celebrations.

On July 10th, 2012 Grand Hotel turned 125 years old. It was an exciting week commemorated with a 125-foot birthday cake, cocktail receptions, presentations, fireworks, golf, bocce and croquet tournaments, and a Saturday night finale with a Governor’s Gala and live concert by John Pizarelli.

Cake preparations took place all week as Executive Chef Hans Burtscher prepared the cake. 1,600 eggs, 300 lbs of sugar, and 124 lbs of flour were used to make the cake and homemade butter cream frosting. Intricate details were placed, including 1,500 blooms of orange spray roses, red and yellow roses, white and yellow daisies, and button mums. The cake was delivered one section at time along the porch overlooking the Tea Garden. The weather was perfect as guests gathered to enjoy sparkling wine compliments of Michigan’s own L.Mawby Winery. Dan Musser III, President of Grand Hotel, delivered a speech to the crowd and then cut the ceremonial first piece.

On Thursday evening Grand Hotel hosted a community grand opening for the Grand Hotel stables. The Grand Hotel Stables were designed and built by Mackinac Island Carriage Tours for Grand Hotel and not only provide a brand new state of the art home for 12 horses but also serves as a museum with antique carriages, open to the publicdaily. Family and friends enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and refreshments as the Grand Hotel Orchestra played in the background.

On Friday the official anniversary weekend began with a presentation of a letter of congratulations by Congressman Dan Benishek to Dan Musser III. Friday evening included a cocktail reception on the front porch, dinner in the Main Dining Room, and then champagne reception compliments of Veuve Clicquot and fireworks show provided by Colonial Fireworks. Paul W. Smith of Detroit’s WJR welcomed guests from the balcony of the Presidential Suite and introduced Dan Musser III who also welcomed guests to the evening.  Paul W. Smith did a countdown and the fireworks began with music choreographed by Grand Hotel Music Director Alex Graham with each song chosen with significance to the 125th anniversary of the hotel.

Saturday morning kicked off with a presentation by Carleton Varney of Dorothy Draper and Company, Grand Hotel decorator.  Carleton shared his passion and vision behind dressing the Grand Lady. Carleton has designed every room in the hotel with 385 individually decorated guest rooms. This year he designed the Stockbridge Suite, which has many furniture items from the original Stockbridge estate. Stockbridge purchased the land on which Grand Hotel sits. Many adornments in the hotel have come from around the world, including the chandeliers in the Theatre where Carleton spoke that day. The chandeliers are from a castle in London and were going to be disposed of until Carleton saved them for part of his vision for the hotel.

Following Carleton’s speech was a special recognition to all 125 Grand Hotel employees who have served over ten years. It says a lot about the third generation family running the hotel. Two employees were recognized for 40 years of service. John Hulett, Senior Vice President and Ken Salmon, Vice President of Hospitality and Maître D. Both gentlemen received a 125th anniversary print of the hotel by artist Marlee Brown, Dan Musser III’s wife.

The morning events concluded with a Q&A session with the Musser family facilitated by Paul W. Smith. In attendance was Dan Musser, Jr. wife Amelia Musser, along with their children: daughter Robin Agnew, son Dan Musser III, wife Marlee Brown, and daughter Mimi Cunningham.  The afternoon continued with golf, bocce and croquet tournaments. At 5:30, guests visited the front porch for a cocktail reception before the evening’s Governor’s Gala where 3 former governors were in attendance. With a souvenir menu guests enjoyed a signature six-course meal and wine designed by Executive Chef Hans Burtscher.

Master of Ceremonies Paul W. Smith began the evening followed by the blessing of the meal by Reverend Ron Smith. After dinner service, speeches were delivered by Dan Musser, Jr. Chairman Grand Hotel, Mr. Dan Loepp, President and CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Governor William Milliken, Governor James Blanchard, Governor John Engler, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, a video message from Governor Rick Snyder who was away, and Dan Musser, III, President of Grand Hotel.

The evening concluded in the Theatre with a live concert performance by John Pizarelli.

For those in attendance, we are glad you were able to join Grand Hotel celebrate their 125th anniversary and we hope the memories created are as special to you as they are to us. We hope to see you in 2037 when we celebrate our 150th anniversary.

Ken Hayward is the Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the Grand Hotel. Ken is responsible for all group and individual sales efforts for Grand Hotel.  In addition, he directs advertising and public relations activities and is involved in leadership of hotel operations. Ken lives on Mackinac Island during the season and in Okemos, Michigan during the offseason with his wife, Nancy, and their two children, Alexandra and Zachary.