MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (WXYZ) - Mackinac Island’s historic hotel with the world’s longest front porch (660 feet!) is marking a big birthday July 10.
The hotel opened for the first time on July 10, 1887. So this year marks its 125th year hosting guests.
“It’s a testament to the vision of my uncle and father that we continue to offer a distinctive travel experience in a 125-year-old building to more than 130,000 guests every season,” said Grand Hotel President R.D. Dan Musser III.
Those guests include five U.S. Presidents: Clinton, Bush, Ford, Kennedy & Truman.
QUITE THE TRADITION
Not much has changed over the years.
Guests still make their way to Mackinac by ferry or plane. Then they take horse-drawn carriages to the hotel because no cars are allowed on the island.
Smiling staff greet you along with the Grand Hotel’s 660-foot porch.
From the rocking chairs to the red geraniums, colonial architecture to the American flags, arriving there is like stepping back in time.
“This is a seasonal business,” said Musser. “We’ve never been able to be open year round, and yet we’ve never closed in 125 years through two World Wars, one depression, one great recession. So it’s kind of, I think, a big deal. And we’re excited and proud about it.”
Dan and his sister Mimi make up the third generation of the Musser family to run the hotel.
He started working there in high school.
His favorite memory?
“Well, I can say as a 16-year-old boy…when Somewhere in Time was being filmed here, I was kind of interested in what Jane Seymour was doing that summer. So I think that was a memorable moment,” said Musser with a chuckle.
The 1980 sci-fi romance featuring Grand Hotel as much of the backdrop didn’t do much at the box office, but it has become a cult classic.
In 1946, This Time for Keeps starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams was the first movie filmed there. The movie premiered in 1947.
GRAND HOTEL WEEK
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a proclamation naming July 8 – 14 “Grand Hotel Week” in Michigan.
"Grand Hotel has an iconic status in Michigan's hospitality and political history," said Governor Snyder.
Tuesday, July 10, Grand Hotel’s chef will serve a 125-foot-long cake on the iconic porch to celebrate.
The party continues the weekend of July 13-15. Friday, the hotel will have a reception and fireworks.
There there will be presentations, a concert, and tournaments on Saturday.
Plus, three former Michigan governors will join Grand Hotel guests for a Grand Cocktail Reception and special dinner in the hotel’s Main Dining Room.
The honored guests are Governors William Milliken, James Blanchard, and John Engler. Governor Rick Snyder – who will be out of the country -- will deliver a video message.
125 YEARS LATER
Over the years, the hotel has added a couple of wings, enlarged rooms, and remodeled suites after former First Ladies and Presidents.
But the high-quality service remains.
Musser credits the people.
“The over 150 staff who’ve been with us for more than 10 years – some 20 and 30 years,” Musser added.
The hotel has won the AAA Four Diamond Award for 17 consecutive years.
It was listed again as one of Travel & Leisure Magazine’s Top 500 Hotels in the World in 2011.
So, exemplary hospitality is still the rule of thumb.
And, yes, ladies and gents are still encouraged to dress for dinner in the grand dining hall and pause for a spell on the porch.
“It’s an honor to carry Grand Hotel’s legacy through the 21 st Century and to continue delivering our tradition as one of the world’s finest summer hotels,” said Musser.
Cawthorne's Village Inn has been added as an offsite dining option. The Founder's Suite is a newly decorated room at the hotel which features furniture from the Senator Stockbridge estate. Senator Stockbridge owned the land on which Grand Hotel sits.
The hotel also opened a new stable to be used by Grand Hotel and the Mackinac Island Carriage Tours.
Also, visitors can stroll through the new quasquicentennial garden.
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