Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel, Plus Movies Filmed on Site
Time Travel at the Grand Hotel
This unique concept of being able to travel backward or forward in time is no longer limited just to science fiction fans who love reading books, watching television shows like the many Star Trek versions or movie going aficionados.
It can be realized by stepping back in time and seeing and experiencing the grandeur of what life was like (and still can be today) at a place called the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island which was built and opened its doors to the public in 1887.
A consortium of railroads and steamship companies were responsible for initiating the concept and bringing this Grand Hotel into existence.
The name is indeed appropriate. What could better describe this vast and magnificent hotel that has hosted guests including Presidents from the United States, foreign visitors including Heads of State, inventors, authors and other noble persons for more than a century in an elegant fashion?
This stately Grand Hotel reputedly has the most expansive front porch in the entire world. The porch is wide, and some 660 feet (200 meters) in length and has hundreds of geranium boxes planted with those perfect blooming flowers.
Wooden rocking chairs accommodate countless guests or visitors to the Grand Hotel who wish to soak up the sumptuous atmosphere overlooking the gardens below and the nearby vista of Lake Huron.
The Grand Hotel is a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition to my grandparents who have stayed at the Grand Hotel many years ago, we have several good friends who have also visited that most historic of beautiful places on Mackinac Island, Michigan.
The photos in this post have been shared by these same friends and make me all the more eager to visit this place in person someday and experience the views and ambiance of the elegant Grand Hotel.
Photos Taken at the Grand HotelClick thumbnail to view full-size
Movies Filmed at The Grand Hotel
This Time for Keeps is the title of a movie starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams which dates back to 1947. It was filmed on Mackinac Island, and one of the prime locations was at the Grand Hotel.
There is a 220 foot (67 meters) sizeable heated pool at the Grand Hotel named after the famous actress and synchronized swimming expert Esther Williams.
Synchronized swimming is very athletic but also very beautiful to watch. It is also described as water ballet. Women athletes perform rhythmic twists and turns in the water together at precisely the same time whether exposing their arms, legs or bodies and often holding their breath while underwater.
Esther Williams became a rather famous pinup girl during World War II because of frequently appearing in her bathing suit for films once MGM discovered her.
Xavier Cugat's band also performed in that movie. For those who are old enough to remember, he was a popular and charismatic band director who helped make Latin music accessible in the United States. His band performed for many years at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
Jimmy Durante started in the days of vaudeville and went on to perform on radio, in movies, and television. He was not only a good musician but quite the comedian. He always made fun of his big nose, and I remember first seeing him at my grandparent's house when they owned a TV set before my parents getting one in those early days of television.
So with our time travel theme, by watching this romantic comedy film, one can see what the Grand Hotel looked like during that time as well as viewing some of those famous personalities featured in that 1947 movie.
Somewhere in Time is the title of a classic movie made back in 1980. It is hauntingly beautiful not only due to the period costuming and setting of the Grand Hotel but also due to the most beautiful music played throughout the movie.
The 18th variation of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is one of my all time personal favorites! The Somewhere in Time music theme was based upon Rachmaninoff's masterpiece creation.
The title of this movie foretells the fact of this being a time travel movie. Christopher Reeve, the beautiful Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer are central characters in this film.
At one point the character played by Christopher Reeve travels back 68 years in time to the year 1912 to meet the famous actress Elise McKenna (played by Jane Seymour) with whom he has a romantic connection.
There are some twists and turns to the story, but these lovebirds are suddenly torn apart and once again separated by irreversible time in a dramatic climax.
Somewhere in Time Convention
At the Grand Hotel, there is an annual weekend in October where the hotel guests dress up in vintage clothing and pay homage to the movie Somewhere in Time. That must be a sight to behold!
If visitors from outer space would happen to see only Mackinac Island and not other parts of our world, they would undoubtedly have a skewed version of what life is like on earth mainly if they came on that particular weekend at the Grand Hotel.
If looking for a completely different way to spend a luxurious vacation in a dignified manner dressed in beautiful clothing dating back a century, check out the timing for the next annual Somewhere in Time convention at the Grand Hotel and make reservations. That particular weekend probably sells out fairly quickly.
No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island, so people get around by horse-drawn carriages, bicycling or by walking.
Since the island is small, just shy of four square miles, this is also like stepping back into a time before those first noisy and sputtering Model T Fords and other "horseless carriages" that began populating the highways and byways after the Grand Hotel was first built.
When my grandparents were born everyone commonly traveled with the use of horses and carriages or by railroads and steamships among other modes of transportation, and when my maternal grandmother was young, she was taken back and forth to a convent school with horses and a buggy.
That generation saw the rapid expansion of travel made easier by the use of those early automobiles and they also saw the very first airplanes. My paternal grandmother often commented to me regarding her amazement of living during the time of those first biplanes to seeing a man walk on the moon. Her first husband flew in those biplanes during World War 1.
Gardens and Grounds
The grounds of the Grand Hotel are beautiful judging from the photos that our friends took. Water views of Lake Huron, as well as aspects of the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac bridge, are breathtaking from this location.
Some people wish to sit on the grandiose porch in rocking chairs and sip on drinks delivered by accommodating and friendly hotel waitstaff. Others choose to use the exercise facilities which include the Esther Williams swimming pool, tennis courts, 18 holes of golf, jogging trails and wander the beautiful grounds in which the manicured gardens, fountains and other eye-catching attractions can be seen and enjoyed while out for a stroll.
More photos below show some of this scenery.
Grounds SceneryClick thumbnail to view full-size
Grand Hotel Interiors
Our friends chose to stay elsewhere on Mackinac Island and merely visit the Grand Hotel on several occasions.
This imposing structure with wonderful amenities comes with a not surprisingly high price tag if one wishes to stay in one of their rooms or suites which are all individually decorated. Some of the rooms are named after some of our Presidential first ladies like Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush, and Rosalyn Carter.
One day Doug and Lisa enjoyed themselves by having an Afternoon Tea at the Grand Hotel. A harpist played beautiful music during that interlude of time. Delicate little finger foods accompanied their choice of teas served in fine china.
Several times our friends simply enjoyed those rocking chairs on the porch and sipped on tasty and refreshing drinks after exploring other parts of Mackinac Island.
At a certain point approaching evening, if one wishes to stay on the front porch at the Grand Hotel, a dress code is mandated. A sense of proper decorum is maintained at the Grand Hotel keeping it in line with how life would have been more commonly observed in the past.
Visitors can wander through the public rooms of the Grand Hotel and enjoy the amenities although it costs an admission fee as of the time of this writing if not staying there as a guest.
Would you enjoy visiting the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island?
Hopefully, you enjoyed learning about this grand Mackinac Island Hotel called the Grand Hotel.
Whether you go to experience it by staying there, or merely visit it during the day as several of our friends have, or even plan to enjoy a Somewhere in Time annual convention, it will be an experience you are not likely to soon forget.
Additional Photos from Other Friends of OursClick thumbnail to view full-size
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Peggy Woods