10 Grand Things You Might Not Know

Since 1887, Grand Hotel has been a defining feature of historic Mackinac Island, where horse-drawn carriages and bicycles are the preferred modes of transportation. Here are 10 things you never knew about Grand Hotel that make it a true American icon.

1. No two guest rooms are alike

Every one of Grand Hotel’s 390 guest rooms has its own unique character, artfully decorated by Carleton Varney of Dorothy Draper & Co. Inc. in New York City. Varney is also known for his design consultancy at the White House.

Hotel Room

2. Five U.S. Presidents have visited Grand Hotel

Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton have all experienced the elegance and unique atmosphere of Grand Hotel.

3. Grand Hotel is a third-generation family business

Taking over for his father, R.D. Musser Jr., President Dan Musser III currently handles all-day-to-day operations of the world’s largest summer resort. His sister, Vice President Mimi Cunningham, manages Grand Hotel’s 14 retail outlets and works closely with Carleton Varney on design projects at the hotel.

4. The world’s longest front porch

At 660 feet long, no other hotel in the world can match it. That includes relaxing in a rocking chair while enjoying stunning views of the Straits of Mackinac.


5. Grand Hotel maintains over 125,000 flowers

More than one ton of flower bulbs are planted each fall to create the many gardens on Grand Hotel grounds. Varieties include 25,000 tulips, 15,000 daffodils and more than 5,200 geraniums, the hotel’s signature flower.


6. You can find Grand Hotel Somewhere in Time

This 1980 classic film starring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour was filmed on location at Grand Enthusiasts of the film meet every year in October to celebrate the cinematic secrets of the timeless classic and meet cast members.

7. A pool named for a star

The Esther Williams swimming pool at Grand Hotel was named for actress Esther Williams, star of the 1947 movie This Time For Keeps, filmed at Grand Hotel.

Architecture Photography by Michigan Photographer Don Johnston

8. The legacy of Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor

Scottish Terrier Sadie, owned by hotel proprietors Amelia and R.D. Musser, Jr., was awarded Best in Show at the 2010 Westminster Dog Show. Named for this much-loved dog, Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor features Grand Hotel Pecan Ball Ice Cream, inspired by the hotel’s signature dessert and made using Michigan’s own Hudsonville ice cream.

Ice Cream

9. More than 6,000 pounds of pecans are used annually

Fresh pecans are a necessity for Grand Hotel’s signature dessert. Made with vanilla ice cream and Grand Hotel’s original fudge sauce, more than 60,000 balls are served each season.

10. A grand way to golf

Grand Hotel’s award-winning golf course, The Jewel, is the only course in the world where players are transported between the front and back nine via horse-drawn carriage.

Learn more or make reservations at grandhotel.com or call 1-800-33GRAND. Enjoy special savings during Family Added Value Days , going on now.

What is your favorite thing about the Grand Hotel?

19 thoughts on “10 Grand Things You Might Not Know

  1. The reason for the fee was when filming movies tourists would interrupt the scenes, bothering the actors, creating directing headaches. Then once Somewhere in Time was done and released fans of The cast would block the way of paying customers to The Grand. So to deter tourists from being a problem they started charging to come walk, and see The Grand. The nice thing about the”fee” if you have lunch or tea at The Grand, they remove the fee from your bill.

    Besides its really no different if you go to a museum and pay an entrance fee.

  2. Love, love, love. First time on the island was a trip with my Auntie, who, when she was in college, worked on the island during the summer. That was probably in the 1940s sometime. She took me there in the 1960s when I was around 8 years old. We did walk the porch and eat our lunch in the great restaurant and it left a lasting impression. My dream was to stay at the Grand. Well, fast forward to the 2000s and my husband made my childhood dream come true, not once, but twice! The first time was during the ‘Somewhere in Time’ event and the second time during the Lilac Festival. Not to be greedy, but I am looking forward to at least one more stay at the Grand. Nowhere like it and nowhere like Mackinac Island. Wonderful.

  3. Carl, et al., For a magnificent lunch, present your pass to the wait staff; the full $10.00 will be subtracted from the cost of the Grand Luncheon Buffet. You will love it. The Musser family and staff’s exceptional service are what make this beautiful hotel “America’s Summer Place”; it certainly is ours!

  4. Geeze us3ch2 — guess you didn’t care for it! I’ve had the good fortune to travel pretty extensively around the world, staying in many highly ranked properties and I’ve been to The Grand Hotel several times. For me, it truly deserves its high marks. Mr.Varney has more than successfully made it “America’s Summer Place.” It combines the best of glorious, sparkling days on the Great Lakes, gracious and attentive service, elegant dining, classy and classic comfort, Old World charm and tradition, and bright, unbridled New World enthusiasm and exhilaration. Good thing we don’t all like the same things. We can all go to the places we truly enjoy and avoid those we don’t like. For me, Varney and The Grand Hotel totally “nailed it.” I’ll be back as soon as I can get there. Guess I won’t be seeing you, but I hope you do enjoy wherever you go!

  5. The Grand Hotel charges a $10 fee to enter the entire hotel. It covers quite a bit. They started charging a fee when the movie Somewhere in Time became popular. The hotel was becoming to crowded and the people who were paying to stay there weren’t being able to fully enjoy it.

  6. I couldn’t agree with you more, Cheryl! My husband, myself and daughters had the privilege of staying at the Grand Hotel last week for a couple of days, and OH! It was magnificent! I guess it is a “different” if you are a guest at the hotel. But our experience is just that…”One of the best”. The hotel may have dated decor, but I think that goes with the charm of the Grand Hotel. It was warm, welcoming, and relaxing. We could not get enough of the views, and grounds. I would have love to stay there at least one day more to take it all in. Our room had views of the sprawling green grounds and waterfalls, and the majestic Lake MI. Every night was spend on our balcony taking it all in. The service, food, views, pool, sitting on the rocking chair after dinner…and so many amazing photo ops just kept me in awe of this place. I felt this place was worth every penny!

  7. Most people will disagree with you. Some visitors just “don’t get it” and that’s ok. This is truly one of the BEST places in the country to stay for a summer vacation that is truly GRAND!

  8. I absolutely hate the ‘over the top’ decorating at the GH. There is nothing about it that is attractive, the wallpapers don’t match the gaudy curtains which doesn’t compliment the gaudy carpeting. The old girl is seriously in need of a facelift and the guy who did it last should not even be allowed to submit a proposal since we’ve all seen what he’s capable of. A couple of years ago we took family friends (visiting from China) to the Grand Buffet and toured the hotel. They were shocked at how ugly the inside of the hotel was in such a beautiful building and I couldn’t say one thing to defend it. Sorry, Grand Hotel, you’re not as beautiful as you think you are — but you’re still enchanting from a distance!

  9. I haven’t been near the Grand in a few years, but I think they used to let you wander around – for a fee (maybe $5-10 per person).
    The one thing I dislike about the island.

  10. I went with a group of women from Win Some women’s Retreat a few years ago and had a wonderful time. It was very affordable going as a group and the service was spectacular. The flood was wonderful and we enjoyed seeing all the different rooms.

  11. Our family visit the island last August I love the island and been there many times. This time we did pay the price to go inside the Grand Hotel for a self guided tour. I enjoy every inch of the Grand Hotel: the lobby, conference room, all of the pictures that hung on the walls, dinner-theatre, cigar lounge, especially the salon with all of the pictures of old Hollywood stars that hung across the top of the wall ( stylist were very nice and I am a stylist also), gift shop, and I could go on. Very much worth the money and I feel honor to have walk through the Grand Hotel and hope someday to stay the night there. Beautiful Beauitful Beautiful

  12. In the years when my family vacationed on the UP, there was no fee, and I remember walking the entire length of the ‘longest porch’ at will; probably a contributing factor to becoming an architect…

  13. You CAN explore the hotel grounds and interior, including the porch, for a nominal fee. This fee was instituted several years ago, when kids not staying at the hotel, decided to ride their skateboards up and down the front porch, resulting in the owner assessing a “fee” to come on the grounds, thinking this would discourage disrespectful riff raff. :) The fee of $10.00 per person is well worth it. Be sure to visit the Cupola Bar on the top floor of the hotel…the view from that perch are unsurpassed! :)

  14. “Somewhere in Time” is my all-time favorite movie! It stars Jane Seymour and Christopher REEVE – no S.

  15. Absolutely love the island, and the hotel is beautiful. One small pique, you’re not even allowed to approach the hotel unless you have a reservation. I understand they don’t want a bunch of nonsense around the guests, but come on… why can’t I at least check out the 660 foot deck? Wouldn’t that encourage me to rent a room more often?

    Ah well, still love the island and the whole straits area!

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