Our History – America’s Original Grand Hotel™
Mackinac Island becomes a summer getaway, but accommodations are limited. The Michigan Central Railroad, Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, and Detroit and Cleveland Steamship Navigation Company form the Mackinac Island Hotel Company. Land upon which Grand Hotel will stand is purchased, hotel construction begins.
Grand Hotel opens, billed as a summer retreat for vacationers who arrive by lake steamer from Chicago, Erie, Montreal, Detroit, and by rail from across the continent. Rates are $3.00 to $5.00 a night.
Grand Hotel’s Front Porch — longest in the world — becomes the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, as well as a promenade for the elderly and a “Flirtation Walk” for island romantics. Grand Hotel Manager James “The Comet” Hayes invites an agent of Edison Phonograph to conduct regular demonstrations of the new invention.
Mark Twain lectures in the Grand Hotel Casino. Admission: $1.
The West Wing is added to the hotel.
Turn of the Century — America’s True Grand Hotel™
The automobile finds its way onto the island. Grand Hotel supports an island-wide ban. A law is passed, but not strictly enforced until the 1930s.
Hotel rates: $6.00 a day per person.
W. Stewart Woodfill, hired as a desk clerk in 1919, purchases and becomes sole owner of Grand Hotel.
A radio salon where patrons can listen to Jack Benny and other popular programs is added.
This Time For Keeps starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams is filmed on the island and at Grand Hotel.
R.D. (Dan) Musser joins the hotel staff.
Michigan Historical Association selects Grand Hotel as a State Historical Building.
Grand Hotel owner W. Stewart Woodfill appoints R.D. (Dan) Musser president of Grand Hotel.
Musser and wife Amelia begin the redesign of the hotel’s interior and exterior with the help of architect Richard Bos and decorator Carleton Varney.
The Mussers purchase Grand Hotel.
Somewhere In Time, filmed at Grand Hotel and starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer, is released.
In preparation for its centennial season, the Cupola Bar is added, the Woodfill Conference Center is completed and The Jewel golf course is renovated.
R.D. (Dan) Musser III is named president of Grand Hotel.
The East Wing is added to the hotel.
The U.S. Department of Interior designates Grand Hotel a National Historic Landmark.
The new Woods nine opens, combining with the original Grand nine to comprise The Jewel, Grand Hotel’s 18-hole golf course.
Astor’s Hair Salon and Rebecca’s are added.
Margaret’s Garden and The Audubon Wine Bar open.
Oil Paintings by Marlee, featuring original works by local artist Marlee Brown, is added to the variety of shops at Grand Hotel.
Five new Named Rooms in honor of former First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush are added to the west end of the hotel. Two new two-bedroom suites, the Grand and the Carleton Varney, are also added to the west end.
Grand Hotel & Co., Fine Jewelry is added to the variety of shops. Thirteen guest rooms are added to the west wing of the hotel, bringing the total to 343.
A new golf pro shop is added. The Vanderbilt Suite is added. Three electric boilers are added making heating water more efficient and environmentally friendly. Construction began on the Millennium Wing, a 200-seat addition to the Main Dining Room and 42 new guest rooms. This is the largest addition since the original construction of the hotel. The Millennium Wing will be completed in time for the 2001 season.
The Millennium Wing opens on the east end of the hotel. The wing features 42 new guest rooms; the Grand Pavilion, a 3,600 square-foot private meeting room and dining room; restrooms adjacent to the dining room; and new guest and service elevators.
The Jacqueline Kennedy Suite is added.
The Masco Cottage, a four-bedroom cottage attached to the east end of the hotel, is added. The swimming pool’s deck area is expanded and a new large hot tub is added.
The Grand Club, a vacation membership program allowing guests to prepay future stays at Grand Hotel at a discount, is established.
The earliest Grand Hotel has been open in its 118-year history. The Jane Seymour Suite was added featuring furniture and linens from her Grand Hotel – Mackinac Island Collection, a line of home goods she created for Saks, Inc.
The Gate House, a casual bar/restaurant just a short walk down Grand Hill, is added to Grand Hotel’s offsite dining options. The hotel welcomes its 5,000,000th overnight guest.
Air conditioning is added to 170 guest rooms makes Grand Hotel entirely air conditioned. Grand Hotel celebrates its 120th birthday.
For the first time in Grand Hotel history, regular selective dinner was served on the Front Porch during the summer season.
Grand Hotel is certified as a Green Lodging Michigan Leader by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth. The commitment to reducing Grand Hotel’s carbon footprint is an ongoing process that began in 2007 when a state-of-the-art air-conditioning system was installed using water for cooling guest rooms which is then used to heat the Esther Williams Swimming Pool. As part of the hotel’s green initiative, a “Green Team” constantly looks for new and creative ways to benefit our planet.
The Trophy Room is added celebrating Sadie, the Scottish Terrier owned by Amelia Musser, wife of Grand Hotel Chairman R.D. Musser. Sadie won Best In Show at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in addition to 112 other shows around the United States. Located just off the west end of the Parlor, the Trophy Room features her ribbons, trophies and photographs, and is accessible to Grand Hotel guests and those visiting the hotel for the day. Quattro’s Quarters is added to The Gate House restaurant. Quattro’s Quarters is named after 10-year old Dan Musser IV, nicknamed Quattro because he is the fourth generation Dan Musser. The game room will feature classic arcade games.
The Laura Bush Suite is added as the seventh First Lady Named Room. Capitol Bedding creates a private label set, Grand Hotel Touch of Softness. One hundred eighty beds will be placed in guest rooms. Autumn Blaze maples are planted on either side of Cadotte Avenue leading up to Grand Hotel as part of a two-year project to replace dying Norway maples. The project is set for completion in the fall of 2011. A partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan titled “Live Healthy. Live Grand” debuts highlighting healthy dining options, and recreational and stress reducing activities at Grand Hotel.
Grand Hotel celebrates its 125th Anniversary. The historic year was commemorated with a weekend filled with memorable events: Saturday night dinner with former Michigan governors in attendance, presentation by Grand Hotel interior decorator Carleton Varney, fireworks, a live performance by John Pizzarelli and more. A special edition 125th anniversary coffee table book is published. Cawthorne’s Village Inn is added to Grand Hotel dining options. Grand Hotel hosts a full schedule of vintage 1860s rules baseball games and opens its new horse stable, home to 12 horses and 20 antique carriages. The Stockbridge Suite also opens its doors, featuring furniture from the estate of Francis B. Stockbridge, who once owned the land on which the hotel sits.
Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor is added in what was Margaret’s Garden. Margaret’s Garden is moved to the lower lobby. Adding the Grand Hotel Touch of Softness Sleep Sets to all guest rooms is completed. Air conditioning is added to Woods restaurant. An outdoor hot tub is added to the deck of Masco Cottage. Two new weekend packages are added: Grand Garden Show featuring Proven Winners and the Live Healthy Live Grand Weekend, partnering with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
The Musser Suite is added at the west end of the fourth floor. This one-bedroom suite features an entryway with a wet bar. Steps up to the right lead into a large parlor with a view of the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge. To the left of the entry is the bedroom with a dormer sitting area. The suite is named after Mr. Musser who passed away in April 2013. Grand Hotel President Dan Musser III and his father discussed the Cupola Suites project for many years. The suite is decorated by Carleton Varney of Dorothy Draper & Company in New York who Mr. Musser hired in 1976 and has continued to be the designer of all Grand Hotel interiors since then. The Musser Suite is the first of the Cupola Suites project that will lead to dormers lining the fourth floor of the front of the hotel, which is how the hotel’s exterior looked as late as 1915.
The fourth floor project has continued with the addition of new Cupola Suites. Each suite has a bedroom with a king bed, which is entered through a parlor, and the option of connecting to a bedroom with two queen beds. Beautiful stone work and new sculpted walls have been added to define our flower beds in the Tea Garden. The season is 184 nights long, the longest ever.