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.

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.

Porch

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.

Garden

6. You can find Grand Hotel Somewhere in Time

This 1980 classic film starring Christopher Reeve 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. In fact, Jane Seymour is planning on attending this year.

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.

What is your favorite thing about the Grand Hotel?

Fascinating Facts about Five Michigan Islands

Michigan’s islands are stunningly beautiful and rich with history – from functioning as a lush habitat for endangered wildlife to serving as the former stomping grounds of an American king – each island offers unique qualities and attractions. Here are some interesting facts about the islands that you may not be aware of. 

Curious for more information on Michigan islands? Be sure to check out our pages on Belle Isle and Isle Royale, just to name a few!

Les Cheneaux Islands

  1. “Les Cheneaux” is French for “the channels.”
  2. There are 36 islands that make up the Les Cheneaux Islands.
  3. The Les Chenaux Islands Antique Boat Show and Festival is the world’s largest antique wooden boat show. The next boat show takes place on Saturday, August 8 2015.
  4. You can learn how to build boats at the Great Lakes Boat Building School.
  5. Nicknamed Michigan’s Land of Water.
Les Cheneaux Island

Les Cheneaux Islands – Photo courtesy of Chris Arace

Mackinac Island

  1. Since 1898, motorized vehicles have been prohibited on Mackinac Island- there are more than 500 horses on the island for transportation.
  2. Fort Mackinac is home to the oldest surviving building in Michigan – Officers’ Stone Quarters.
  3. Doud’s Market, America’s oldest family-owned grocery store, has resided on the island for 131 years.
  4. The island’s Grand Hotel has the world’s largest front porch at 660 feet long!
  5. Five U.S. presidents have visited the Grand Hotel including Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island – Photo Courtesy of Grand Hotel

Beaver Island

  1. This island has a population of 600 people, mostly of Irish descent.
  2. Totaling 56 square miles, it is the largest island in Lake Michigan.
  3. The island is home to the Michigan monkey-flower, a federally-classified endangered species.
  4. Protar’s House, the Marine Museum and the Old Mormon Print Shop museum are major tourist attractions.
  5. The island was the only American territory ruled by a king.
Beaver Island

Beaver Island – Photo courtesy of Chris Arace

Drummond Island

  1. Drummond island is the largest freshwater island in the United States.
  2. The island boasts a population of 1,058 people.
  3. A main attraction is the DeTour Reef Light, an 83-foot tall lighthouse that marks a dangerous reef to help guide ship traffic from and to Lake Huron and Lake Superior through the St. Marys River.
  4. There are more than 13 ecosystems on the island including six forest types, five swamp-marsh types, inland lakes and rivers, and sand dunes.
  5. The island is ideal for bird watching as it is home to a host of avian species including loons, grebes, waterfowls and owls.
Drummond Island

Drummond Island – Photo courtesy of Modern Explorers

Manitou Islands

  1. The Manitou islands are surrounded by over 50 known shipwreck sites, dating back to 1835.
  2. North Manitou Island is nearly eight miles long and over four miles wide.
  3. South Manitou Island is three miles wide and three miles long.
  4. North Manitou Island is powered by solar electricity.
  5. The South Manitou Island Light is a popular attraction among tourists. Between 1871 and 1958, ships took refuge here during severe thunderstorms.
Manitou Island Light

South Manitou Island Light, Manitou Islands – Photo courtesy of Michigan Nut Photography

Are you planning any trips to see Michigan islands this summer? Tell us below!

Join Pure Michigan and Under the Radar for a virtual trip around Mackinac Island

There are many scenic destinations in Pure Michigan, including the iconic shores of Mackinac Island. Mackinac Island is a place where you can enjoy the simple life. Take a horse-drawn carriage or bike around the island, where cars have been prohibited for more than 100 years, sample the world-famous fudge from confectioners who have perfected their recipes or take in the views on the world’s longest porch at Grand Hotel. There is so much to experience when visiting this Great Lakes gem.

As the first state in the United States to ever conduct a real-time virtual guided tour, Pure Michigan is offering you the opportunity to experience Mackinac Island – virtually! We’re partnering with Georama, a real-time vicarious travel platform, so you can virtually tour the island just by simply logging into michigan.org/live on Thursday, June 11 at 12 noon to 4 pm Eastern. Tom Daldin, host of PBS show Under the Radar, will serve as your travel guide and adventure lead in this digital exploration.

Photo courtesy of Instagrammer (at)Jacquelynn_Joy

Have a question about Mackinac Island you’ve always wanted answered? With the interactive live-stream, you can ask Tom questions on the spot – and get a response immediately – as we take you through the town on a sightseeing adventure.

Begin your journey by taking a ferry ride to Mackinac Island before getting an up-close and personal view of the island.

We’ll take you to downtown Mackinac, home to some of the most lovely shops and art galleries in the state, offering you a chance to peek inside as well as interact with people on the streets to get their thoughts on the island known as America’s fudge capital.

Photo courtesy of Grand Hotel

We’ll also tour Douds Market, America’s oldest family-owned grocery store for 131 years so you can see some of the store’s specialty items and get a history lesson on the market.

From there we’ll visit Fort Mackinac and round out our journey with a trip to the gloriously-designed Grand Hotel. We’ll give you a new perspective of this landmark and invite you to join us as we sip tea on the Grand’s famous front porch all while surrounded by 2,500 gorgeous geraniums.

We’re excited for you to join us on this Pure Michigan adventure! See you at michigan.org/live on Thursday, June 11 at 12 noon to 4pm.