Traveling Around Brimley, Michigan: Bay Mills Resort and Casino
Bay Mills Resort on Waishkey Bay
Nestled on the banks of the Waishkey Bay is the Bay Mills Resort. Waishkey Bay lies at the eastern end of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula just up the St. Mary's River from Sault Ste Marie. The Bay Mills Tribe of the Ojibwe Indians has operated a casino in Brimley since 1984. The resort hotel has a view of the bay. The original casino that was established as the first in Michigan opened just a few miles away. They felt the need for expansion and modernization so in 1995 they opened the currently active Bay Mills Resort. The original casino still operates.
In the center of a long building that makes up the resort is the hotel lobby. It is open to a spacious area that contains a fireplace and sitting area on one side and a coffee station and the hotel front desk on the other side.
Directly to the south side of the front desk is one wing of the hotel. The other wing is some fifty feet away to the north and runs parallel to the first wing. Each wing is two story. There are approximately 35 rooms on each floor for a total of 142 rooms in the hotel.
Rates during the week are $89 and on the weekends are $10 higher. During the winter months, rates drop by $20. Each room has a refrigerator, a microwave, and features wifi and cable television. There are usually specials available.
Further to the north of the hotel lobby is the Horizon's Conference Center where business meeting space is available as well as occasional performances by national and local entertainers. When we were there last, we thoroughly enjoyed an afternoon of beer and polka music (even though we do not polka).
There are four restaurants associated with the resort. Three of them are in the main building while one is at the golf course. They are Sacy's, The Back Bay Bar & Grill, and North Winds Lounge.
Sacy's is a large, modern restaurant. In the main part of the restaurant there is a booth arrangement in the center of the room that opens into the kitchen area. Around the booths there are tables that ring the outer wall. In addition to the main room, there is a solarium area that contains some ten tables and looks out upon a pond area that has fountains spraying water into the air. It is an upscale dining experience that offers moderately priced meals that range from Northern Michigan Wildberry Stuffed French Toast for breakfast to chicken smothered in cheese and bacon for dinner. There is also a buffet for those appetites that like variety.
North Winds Lounge is a darkly panelled room with a deeply colored mahogany bar that offers drink specials, appetizers, and access to the patrons favorite games on television.
The Back Bay Bar & Grills is a sports bar without equal in the area. Large 50 inch televisions offer many different sporting events. Both comfortable booth and table seating are available. The menu consists of burgers, pizzas, nachos, and other appetizers at moderate prices. There are almost always drinks specials available.
There is an additional restaurant across the highway at the golf course - The Players Lounge. It overlooks the 18th hole on the course and offers generally lighter fare than found in the main restaurant at the resort proper.
The Main Casino
When arriving from the east on Lakeshore Drive, the first building in the connected rustic appearing complex is the larger casino. There are entrances to the casino from parking lots on both the east and west side of the building. Inside the building, the Players Club and the Administrative Offices are on the south side and the northern portion is devoted to casino activities. Next to the Players' Club are the offices that house the casino hosts.
Up the center of the large area of the casino are 10 tables that include blackjack (both single and multiple deck) games, a three card poker game, a Let It Ride game, a Roulette table, and a Craps table. Betting limits usually begin at a reasonable level.
Approximately 1,000 slot machines are to the north of the table game area. Most of the video poker machines are to the south and east of the table games. There are multi denominational machines that can be penny slots up or video poker. Along the east wall there is a video poker bar that has the poker machines built into the serving surface.
The machines are TITO (ticket in - ticket out) and do not dispense cash but rather vouchers that can be turned into cash at the casino cashier or at several machines situated for that purpose.
There is a four table poker room located next to some video poker machines along the east wall. The poker room is usually opened on demand and for tournaments which are held at least on a weekly basis.
The cashier's cage is located on the east wall. It is flanked by automatic teller machines and by several of the ticket in - ticket out machines.
The Secondary Casino
The northern end of the building complex contains the Back Bay Games & Grill. The bar and grill is a brightly lighted sports bar with many television sets. There are both tables and booths for seating. The menu includes many snack kinds of items in addition to hefty sandwiches and pizzas. Hours at the bar and grill vary and sometimes don't open till late afternoon.
To reach the restaurant area, you pass through a section with some hundred or so video poker and slot machines. They are multi denominational and multi game machines so that you can select the slot machine game you wish to play at what level - beginning at a penny or the video poker game you wish to play beginning at a nickel.
The Original Casino
Several miles away to the north is the original casino. There is ample parking on the south side of the casino that is named Kings Club. It is a plain, wide open casino with no table games.
The restaurant at Kings Club is Chums and featured sandwiches and pizza and on Fridays has a whitefish dinner special. It is not fancy and looks very utilitarian.
The video poker games are isolated in a corner of the casino and most of the space is given to slot machines. There are perhaps 250-300 machines in the casino.
There is a counter that is an extension of the Players' Club found in the main casino and provides redemption for the special offer coupons and Players' Club amenities that seem to abound. Each weekday has a special which might be free food or free play on the machines.
Golf Course and RV Park
Across Lakeshore Drive from the resort is the 4 ½ star rated Wild Bluff Golf Course. It has been declared the best golf course in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Championship Tee length is 7,056 yards and the Front Tee is 5,316 yards. The clubhouse is a multi-leveled oasis that contains the Players Lounge..
Next to the golf course is the Bay Mills RV Park. There are 76 pull thru sites that have water, electric, cable tv, and wifi access.
Both of these facilities close during the winter months.
Getting There and Getting Around
The highway is the only access to the resort. Some charter buses do arrive but most patrons drive.
The route from the Mackinac Bridge is to go north on I-75 for about 40 miles and take MI-28 (Exit 386) and go west on MI-28. At the junction (about 7 miles) take MI-221 to the right for a couple miles and turn left on Lakeshore Drive. The resort is ahead on the right.
The route from Sault Ste. Marie is to go south on Business I-75 and turn left on Mackinac Trail. In a few miles turn right on W. 6 Mile Rd which turns into Lakeshore Drive and after going through the main part of Brimley, arrival at the resort is on the right.
Because of its location, the sights of Sault Ste Marie easily accessed to the east. The sightseeing activities there include the American and Canadian Locks that transport boats on the St. Mary's River, To the west and an hour or so away is the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point and slightly further towards Newberry are the Taquamenon Falls.