September 19, 2019

#185 Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel

“There are other hotels on this small time-locked island (whose name is pronounced Mack-in-awe), but Grand Hotel … sets the tone.  The immense white Greek Revival palace lives resolutely and proudly in the past. It was built in 1887 during the post-Civil War Gilded Age, when rates were $3 a night. [Now they’re between $615 - $985 for single occupancy per night.] It’s stately, 600-foot-long, pillared veranda surely one of the world’s largest porches, is perfect for watching magic sunsets play on the Mediterranean-blue waters of the lakes.  In a state where the auto industry rules, cars are banned here, and travel is by bicycle or horse carriage only.”

This hotel reminds me a lot of the Greenbrier – old timey, sort of lurid, gaudy décor, and better in idea than in reality.  Possibly coloring my opinion is the fact that everything about this Place was a hassle, and while some of that hassle was due to the Labor Day crowds, some of it is just built in.  

mackinac grand hotel

Getting there is a hassle.  I came from the UP, but left for the island from Mackinaw City – so there was a toll bridge, parking, a tram, and long line, then a ferry. The taxi service on the island is horse drawn carriages, and again, it was a hassle.  

You can’t “hail” a cab, you have to call and request one.  Again, I’m not sure if this was a product of the holiday weekend, or if it is generally the situations, but it took forever for a cab to show up.  Basically, anyone that knows me knows that I hate it when everything is just a hassle.  Was I also very tired?  Yes?  Possibly a contributing factor.  

Once at the Grand Hotel, I decided to eat at the Grand Lunch Buffet, for a buffet is was not bad for a buffet, but kind of weirdly set up.  I (luckily?) had a table on the outside, but it seemed like everything was jammed together so nobody had enough room to move around.  My chair was jostled repeatedly, the buffet line was just one long line with no clear beginning/end and the room between the buffet tables and the dining tables was barely wide enough for 2 people to walk. I heard this exchange from a “Me Big/You Tiny” (thanks TWoP Amazing Race recaps) couple:
Tiny: weaving through tablesBig: please don’t go anywhere I can’t follow?!Tiny: okay (veers to go a different direction)
Mackinac Food

Going through town, though, I did wonder what it would be like to live there full time.  It looks like 500-600 people are full time residents of the island, but what stays open after the tourist season is over?  And do you get snowed it?  What is you just work on the island?  Is there a season ferry pass?  Priority parking?  It’s something I wonder about  a lot of places I visit – who are these people, what do they do for a living, for fun, for shopping.