Back to Main Blog

Modern Technology in Surprising Places

Sure, we are going to be 127 this July, but keeping up with today’s technology is a priority at Grand Hotel.

Recently we have installed 20 charging station lockers in the phone booths located across from the Concierge desk in the Parlor.  Each locker holds and has charging cords for, old and new version iPhones and iPads, Android system tablets,  phones, and Blackberries.   Multiple phones or devices can be placed in one locker as long as they use different chargers.

Guests choose a locker and set their personal combination.  Items can be left safe and secure for as long as required, and if additional adapters are needed for devices not listed, these can be supplied as well.

We anticipate the charging stations to be a useful convenience for those guests who have forgotten or misplaced their charger.  Though we know, that never happens on vacation, right?







The Musser Suite – By Carleton Varney


Last week before the official opening of the 128th season Carleton Varney of Dorothy Draper and Company the interior designer for the entire hotel who has been working with the family since 1979 visited Grand Hotel to decorate and furnish our brand new one bedroom suite, the Musser Suite in honor of R.D. Musser, Chairman of Grand Hotel. Mr. Musser worked at Grand Hotel from 1951 until he passed away in April of 2013.

The suite features a bedroom with a king bed, seating area, wet bar, and separate parlor with spectacular views of the Mackinac Bridge and Straits of Mackinac. The Musser Suite is located at the West end of the 4th floor of the hotel in current attic space that runs the entire length of the front of the building. This suite is one of seven that will be completed over the next few years as part of the Cupola Suites.

With the final touches in place Mr. Varney has shared his design inspiration below in this week’s blog.  Mr. Varney also has additional information on

To see more pictures and reservation information please visit



The Grand Hotel – now into its 128th year – has added the Musser Suite, a living room/one-bedroom suite with a view over the Great Lakes and magical Mackinac Bridge.

This has also been the year of the publication of my book, Decorating in the Grand Manor, a design memoir I have dedicated to the memory of Mr. R.D. Musser, Jr. – a friend with whom I shared many years creating new ways to make Grand Hotel the finest summer resort in America. Today, I am happy, and fortunate, to be working with Dan Musser III, a gentleman trained in the wonderful world of hospitality, moving forward with new ideas and projects that will add glamour as well as ingenious contemporary standards to Grand Hotel’s standard of excellence.

I, in my 50 years of decorating, have always enjoyed working with the resorts that are privately owned, where every detail is carefully considered.

The Musser Suite has been styled to be one of the finest decorated projects of my career. the walls of the parlor have been upholstered in deep, rich, lilac purple damask and the carpeting, custom-woven in Connemara, Ireland, is a rich cream, scarlet red, aubergine and chartreuse open plaid. Draw draperies on the bay windows include sheers of a white silk stripe and over-draperies of aquamarine-like blue under valances of cream damask and lilac silk.

Furnishings in the suite are a medley of French designs with comfortable seating covered in floral print, combined with azalea red velvet and malachite green. The suite includes a wet bar/service area in the entry foyer as well as a king-size bedroom with walls covered in malachite and green wall covering and a white, tassel-design, wooden carved bed trimmed with soft lilac.

The suite combines the luxury that the Grand has always offered its guests – damask walls, custom designed carpets, crystal fixtures – with the simplicity and comfort of today. Deep cushy sofas, king size tassel detailed bedding and amenities, service bar, along with the beauty of color that Mr. Musser has always said represents the Mackinac Island style.
The Lilac Festival has always been a highlight of the summer season on Mackinac and for the Musser Suite, all the lilac colors have been incorporated, from deep purple to lavender and white.
Memorabilia from the collection of the late Mr. Musser is used for wall art and appointments.

It’s an amazing and elegant addition to Grand Hotel that I am sure you will enjoy staying in as much as I enjoyed decorating it.

Carleton Varney



Arts Weekend Theatre Program Announced

Rob RoznowskiToday’s guest blogger is Rob Roznowski, director of several film and theatrical productions, as well as Head of Acting at the MSU Department of Theatre.  

For nearly a decade the Michigan State University Department of Theatre has been official partners with The Williamston Theatre. The Williamston Theatre is mid-Michigan’s only professional resident theatre and operates under the rules of the Actors’ Equity Association. This unique partnership allows MSU students to work in various capacities at Williamston Theatre, including: design, acting, stage management and a variety of internships with the professionals at Williamston Theatre. We wanted to celebrate this exciting partnership with you at this summer’s 20th Anniversary of Arts Weekend at the magnificent Grand Hotel (June 27-29)!

Williamston Theatre’s Executive Director John Lepard (MSU BA Theatre), his wife, and Williamston Theatre Development Director Emily Sutton-Smith (MSU MFA Theatre) will perform A. R. Gurney’s LOVE LETTERS. The piece is comprised of letters exchanged over a lifetime between two people who grew up together, went their separate ways, but continued to share confidences. It will certainly provide an evocative, touching and frequently funny evening.

Grand Hotel audiences will also receive an extended sneak preview of the high-energy musical THE BIG BANG which opens July 10th at Williamston Theatre. (MSU Department of Theatre Chair, Kirk Domer, and Karen Kangas Preston, faculty, will be designing the set and costumes for this main production!) This hilarious musical is written by Boyd Graham and Jed Feuer and is directed by MSU Department of Theatre faculty member Rob Roznowski and stars Zev Steinberg (current MFA student MSU Theatre) and alum Matthew Gwynn (MSU BA Theatre).  This outrageous musical comedy highlights two wanna-be tycoons who are desperate to line-up funding for their new project – “The Big Bang”. They’ve set up a “backer’s audition” and you’re invited! With a cast of hundreds, the overblown extravaganza they’ve written is the biggest thing Broadway has ever seen and depicts the entire history of the world—from the formation of the planets right through the most important events—Adam and Eve! The Pyramids! Cher! This zany song-and-dance romp will leave you breathless!

Please join us as we celebrate the great partnership between the MSU Department of Theatre and Williamston Theatre at Arts Weekend at the Grand Hotel with two amazing evenings celebrating the captivating world of theatre!

The Making of Hudsonville Grand Hotel Pecan Ball Ice Cream

When producing Grand Hotel Pecan Ball, the Hudsonville Team begins by batching ice cream mix using locally-sourced fresh milk, cream and a sugar blend. Once the mix is prepared and cooled to the proper temperature, it is brought over to the production room where we start by then making our famous Original Vanilla ice cream in specialized ice cream freezers.

At this point in the process, our ice cream artisans then add fresh roasted pecans into the ice cream at the “Fruit Feeder”- a hopper that perfectly blends the pecans into the ice cream at a computerized rate to match our special recipe. As the ice cream and pecans travel to the cup filler, we also blend a special-recipe Grand Hotel fudge sauce into the ice cream.

 At the filler, the cup, ice cream and lid all come together as one. After each container is checked for the proper weight, coded with a manufacturing date and put through a metal detector, it immediately enters our deep freezing system.

From start to finish, each carton of ice cream is produced and travels into the freezer in under two minutes! This ensures Grand Hotel Pecan Ball is made as fresh as possible, and then frozen fresh to lock in a rich, creamy taste and texture as quickly as possible so it can be enjoyed by everyone!

Click here to see the official Press Release.

The Musser Suite is taking shape

It is time to share an update on the Musser Suite progress.  Walls are up, and images providing a peek at the final look are taking shape.   Carleton Varney is working hard on the interior design, choosing rich purples, greens and reds for the walls and furniture.

The construction crew is busy putting up walls and windows, and the Musser Crest has been created for the doors of the suite.  The view from this room is stunning, even in winter.  In warmer months, guests of the Musser Suite will be treated to the lush green of the Tea Garden, along with 180 degree views of Lake Huron and the Straits of Mackinac.

For information on Musser Suite availability contact our Reservations Department at 1-800-33 GRAND (334-7263).





1903 Grand Hotel
Railroad Convention Buttons

The year 1903 had Teddy Roosevelt in his second full year as our President, the Wright Brothers made their first flight in the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, James Jefferies defeated John Corbett to become the heavyweight-boxing champion, and Ford Motors incorporated under Henry Ford. Detroit Tigers 28 year-old outfielder Jimmy Barrett led the American League in bases on balls and on-base percentage, but the Tigers would finish 25 games behind the Boston Americans, and missed a chance to be in the first ever World Series.  None of those events would be more memorable to Grand Hotel Manager Henry Weaver than the train wreck he experienced on Mackinac Island that year.

On December 10, 1902, the executive committee of the American Railway Master Mechanic’s Association and the Master Car Builder’s Association met at the Iroquois Hotel in Buffalo, New York to decide where the two organizations conventions would take place the following year. Delegates representing hotels from Put-in-Bay, Ohio; Mackinac Island (presumably Henry Weaver); Manhattan Beach, New York; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Denver, Colorado; Niagara Falls, New York; Atlantic City, New Jersey and Saratoga Springs, New York presented their proposals for the conventions at their locations.  The committee then met to discuss their options and agreed to an informal ballot. The results were Mackinac Island, 9; Manhattan Beach, 2; and Saratoga Springs, 1.

Commercial Law
League Ribbon

The committee discussed their options further and then called for an official ballot with Mackinac Island gaining 10 votes to Saratoga Springs 2 votes. Mr. J.T. Chamberlain of the Master Car Builder’s Association called for a unanimous decision that Mackinac Island be chosen as the place for the conventions and the motion passed. Grand Hotel would be the headquarters for the Master Mechanic’s convention on June 17, 18, and 19, and the Master Car Builder’s convention on June 22, 23 and 24.

Henry Weaver, who was also the manager of Planter’s Hotel in St. Louis, was not off the hook. He had booked the Ninth Annual Convention of the Commercial Law League of America for July 27-31, and was expected to accommodate 400 of its members including commercial lawyers from every state, and all Canadian provinces. To lose out on all three conventions would be a tragic loss for Mackinac Island and Grand Hotel. Weaver learned from his mistakes, mustered his resources, and welcomed League President A. H. Weed and his delegates in July. The Pequa (OH) Daily Call reported on July 28, that “the convention was opened with a meeting of the executive committee at the Grand Hotel, a reception and a large party was a feature last night.”The League enjoyed their time at Grand Hotel in 1903, returned in 1908 and made Grand Hotel a celebrated location for many future conventions throughout the 20th century. Numerous organizations would go on to have conventions under the watchful eye of Henry Weaver who never forgot the Great Mackinac Island Train Wreck of 1903.

20th Anniversary MSU Arts Weekend

Today’s guest blogger is Kelly Salchow MacArthur, Associate Professor of Studio Art and Co-Coordinator of Graphic Design. Kelly will present Graphic Design: Elevated, sharing her experimental three-dimensional work in graphic design, as well as related work of her students’ during this year’s 20th Anniversary of Arts Weekend (June 27-29).

Graphic design is ubiquitous—a part of modern life at every turn. We see it in the form of corporate logos, traffic signs, event posters, movie titles, packaging, store interiors, magazine advertisements, bus schedules, phone apps and websites. Sometimes these messages grab our attention, but many times they are absorbed without much thought. As a graphic design educator, I challenge my students to create meaningful and ethical experiences with the tools of visual communication. The visual elements of color, image, line and shape can be combined to establish beautiful and memorable work—ultimately contributing to society.

But what happens when dimension is added to that list of tools? Most graphic design is presented on a flat surface (either in print or on screen). With the incorporation of volume, a whole new set of opportunities emerge—such as tactility, materiality, environmental space, and sequential experience of steps, amongst others. I came to this realization through my longstanding interest in architecture and industrial design. Over the past ten years, I have grappled with ways to fold such spatial inspiration into my graphic design practice.

Bringing my creative research into the classroom has been equally exciting, as I have cultivated assignments that position students to think in ways not common in graphic design studio classes. Each semester I am surprised and impressed by what these talented students develop.

I hope that you can attend the presentation on Saturday, June 28, and see how these concepts have evolved in my work—subsequently informing the education of the next generation of MSU design alumni.

Spending winter on Mackinac Island through the eyes of a Grand Hotel Photographer

Living and working on Mackinac Island has always been an exciting and rewarding experience. Thanks to the non-stop flow of travelers visiting the island, no day on the front porch of the Grand is ever the same. After six years of working as a photographer for Grand Hotel in the spring, summer, and fall months, I decided to take on the challenge of living on the island during the icy winter.

Traveling on the island in the warm months typically takes longer since your only modes of transportation are foot, bike, or horse-drawn carriage.  A snowmobile on the other hand, is like getting around on a jet ski – which is actually pretty exciting. What usually takes me a few hours to do in the summer, like a trip to the grocery store, can be done in 15 minutes! Sure, this is normal for mainland folk, but to an islander this type of convenience is never taken for granted.

Working as a photographer in the winter has its challenges. To get the shots you’re looking for, a lot of time is spent scouting out locations. With temperatures as low as the -20′s, being outside for long periods of time can be quite difficult. While shooting, I stuff my gloves and boots with hand warmers, and after I’ve set up my tripod, I try dancing around a bit to keep the blood flowing to my toes. Many layers are needed to keep your digits warm; it usually takes me a good 25 minutes just to get ready to go outside. Luckily the photos are always worth freezing for!

A main attraction here in winter is the Ice Bridge that forms over the lake connecting the island to St. Ignace on the mainland. Dozens of people journey across the 3 mile ice bridge when weather permits on their snowmobiles to enjoy the island. The combination of below zero temperatures and calm winds allows the bridge to form over the moving water below. If you are one of the brave souls to venture over, you can reward yourself by visiting Cawthorne’s Village Inn. Many people gather at the Village Inn to get together, warm up over some drinks or enjoy a nice meal.

Since the island is surrounded by ice, and I’m a chicken who’s not about to cross the Ice Bridge, flying is my only option. The flight is only about 15 minutes long, and depending on the wind, can be a bit choppy. The site of Grand Hotel covered in snow, and the sheets of ice surrounding the Mackinac Bridge are beautiful enough to make up for it. Just another exciting part about living on the island in the winter. It’s cold, but the beauty, and excitement of the adventure always makes it worth it!

The New Musser Suite

In honor of R.D. Musser, Chairman of Grand Hotel, our first one bedroom suite, appropriately named the Musser Suite, will open for the 2014 season.   Mr. Musser was a part of Grand Hotel for more than 60 years, and we are excited to share this beautiful room, built in his memory.   Located on the 4th floor, the Musser Suite is the first phase of a project that will result in the hotel’s architecture closely resembling its historical, early 1900′s appearance.

The suite will be decorated by Carleton Varney of Dorothy Draper & Company.  It will feature a king bed, wet bar, and a separate parlor area with spectacular views of the Mackinac Bridge, as well as the Straits of Mackinac.  Contact our Reservations Department at 1-800-33 GRAND with any questions, and to check availability of our newest suite.

Below are a few photos of the current construction, we will share more as construction progresses.


It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year To Give Grand Hotel Gifts!

We are sure that most of you are well on your way with Christmas and Holiday shopping, and we want to let you know we are here to help you buy for the Grand Hotel fan on your list.     We have several new items as well as several returning favorites on our website under the Shopping tab.  If you are thinking of something “Grand Hotel” that you do not see on our shopping page, call 517-349-4600 and speak with Suzie Ashley.  She may just be able to help you find that perfect gift.


For those of you looking for stocking stuffers we have Grand Hotel History, and the 125th Anniversary Celebration on DVD and Blu-Ray, Coffee Table and Recipe Books, Geranium Handsoap, Shampoo, and Conditioner, and of course Grand Gift Cards.  Grand Gift Cards can be purchased by calling 1-800-33 GRAND (334-7263) and are good toward room reservations, merchandise, services, food, and beverage.   Get yours now and make the holiday’s Grand!