Location: Mackinac Island, Michigan
Size: 397 rooms
Meeting Space: More than 22,000 square feet
Access: Accessible only by a ferry from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace or by a charter or private aircraft
Afternoons at the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island don’t look too terribly different than they did when it first opened in the late 1800s. Men and women still arrive by horse-drawn carriage while the Grand Hotel Orchestra serenades groups dancing in the halls indoors. Soon diners will be dressing in their finest before feasting on decadent prime rib and roast chicken dinners and, later, retiring to the 660-foot grand front porch, the world’s largest, to sit in rocking chairs and watch the sun set below Lake Huron.
The hotel is on Mackinac Island off the coast of northern Michigan in the Straits of Mackinac. The only way to reach the island is by ferry from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, or by a charter or private aircraft. Once on the island, life slows to a stroll; streets there are used as sidewalks for walkers, bicyclers and even horse-drawn carriages, since motorized vehicles are not allowed on the island. Guests of the hotel can either walk the short distance from the ferry docks to the Grand Hotel or hail a horse-drawn taxi for a nominal fee while their bags are transported from the ferry.
To call the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island an icon would be an understatement. The property has played host to five U.S. presidents over the years and has provided a stage for Mark Twain and performers like Rosemary Clooney, Pat Boone, Lou Rawls and Madonna to entertain guests of the hotel. The hotel, first opened in 1887 as a summer retreat, is a National Historic Landmark, and it will be celebrating its 134th season this year from May 1 through November 2. Owned and operated by the same family for three generations, the Grand Hotel has managed to retain its Old World charm and white glove hospitality while still providing its guests with the most modern amenities and offerings.
The Wi-Fi is free and fast throughout the historic property, where more than 22,000 square feet of meeting space provides ample room for meeting groups and visitors looking to gather and celebrate within this 397-room hotel.
There are more than 20 venue options at the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, and most of the meeting rooms and public spaces are offered free of charge when the entire group is staying at the hotel. The most popular options are the Theatre, which holds up to 1,000 guests; the Grand Pavilion, for up to 450 guests; the Terrace Room and the Brighton Pavilion, for up to 350 guests each; the Headquarters of the Capitol Club, for up to 100 guests; the Gerald R. Ford Conference Room and the Straits of Mackinac, for up to 50 guests each; and the Honorable Frank J. Kelley Conference Room, for up to 14 guests. Many of the restaurants are available to rent, as are the East and West Front Porch, which can each accommodate up to 500 guests.
Most guests of the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island will enjoy the benefits of the Modified American Plan that includes a full breakfast and dinner daily, or the Full American Plan, which also includes a Grand Luncheon Buffet. Meeting and event guests will be treated to the exceptional menus from the hotel’s catering team. Catering options include the popular hourlong Grand Cocktail Reception with premium beverages and cold and hot hors d’oeuvres, but personal convention managers can help arrange any number of private dining experiences, from cookouts to afternoon tea service. Don’t leave without trying the hotel’s famous Grand Pecan Balls; more than 60,000 are consumed each season.
When hosting a meeting, the Grand Hotel offers many complimentary amenities for groups, including meeting and function space, morning and afternoon coffee breaks, audiovisual, Wi-Fi, music for private dinner banquets and a personal convention manager to help with all the details. Groups can select from a range of musical services, floral arrangements, welcome amenities for guests and even customizable turn-down services. Babysitting is offered in-room for hotel guests at $20 per hour, and the personal convention manager will help groups arrange transportation to and from the hotel and will help organize everything from group outings to on-site activities.
Before and After Events
No two of the 397 guest rooms are the same at the Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, where individuality extends from the rooms to the activities offered on-site. Guests can take carriage rides between the front nine and back nine at the Jewel Golf Course, or play a round of pickleball, visit the stables, take a carriage tour around the island and swim in the pool before or after meetings. The personal convention manager can also arrange customized experiences, such as history talks by resident historian Bob Tagatz, private boat tours, walking tours and movie-themed tours to see where scenes from “Somewhere in Time” and “This Time for Keeps” were filmed.