Glen Bulgin Honored For 25 Years of Service at Grand Hotel

Recently featured in Mackinac Island’s local newspaper Town Crier, one of Grand Hotel’s most recognizable employees Glen Bulgin receives acknowledgement and celebration! Following his 25th year of serving and befriending countless Grand Hotel guests as a server in Grand Hotel’s Main Dining Room, Glen has received three special awards. Grand Hotel awarded him for his 25 years of service, friends Bill and Camille Leibold awarded him another, and the Jamaican government and Western Union named him an ambassador for Jamaica. Read the Town Crier article below to check out more information about our dear friend.

For 25 years, Glen Bulgin has been a fixture at Grand Hotel, serving guests with his warm, kind, and compassionate spirit. It is often joked that he is the recipient of the most hugs, and Mr. Bulgin knows many on Mackinac Island from serving diners in the dining room’s first section and his extensive charitable efforts, which includes his establishment of a non-denominational weekly church service at Ste. Anne’s Catholic Church.

Having grown up in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Mr. Bulgin is the youngest of eight siblings. Serving others has been a constant facet of his life, and he has helped his family and community since childhood.

“I started serving from early days,” he said, “and I grew up with some of the older folks in the community. We would help at the church and we would always go there and serve them meals at the care center. From there, I developed that attitude of service, and I loved to serve.”

Working in the hospitality industry takes on a profound meaning for him, being deeply rooted in his spirituality and religious beliefs.

“I believe in serving God, and I believe in serving humanity,” Mr. Bulgin said. “I’m a people person. I have always liked to meet and greet and serve people. I love that.”

Before coming to Grand Hotel, Mr. Bulgin worked at a small hotel in Montego Bay, and he was invited to come to the United States for work in the 1980s. It wasn’t until 1990 that he took up the offer and began working for Grand Hotel.

Two years after he started, Mr. Bulgin was promoted to the prominent first station in the dining room. The first section is closest to the entrance and is an area reserved for the hotel owners and other special guests like dignitaries, celebrities, and politicians. Many people make reservations up to a year in advance to sit in his section.

“I take care of the owners, and the dignitaries, and the stars, and the celebrities,” he said. “Right there, I have a number of persons who come back year after year and make requests to sit with me.” 

Over the years, he has developed friendships with many of the guests, and each time they return is like a warm homecoming.

“It’s like a family affair at the Grand Hotel,” he said. “We have just one, big united family and then when you come back, we hug each other and we greet each other.”

During his first year on the Island, Mr. Bulgin started the interdenominational church services that are hosted at Ste. Anne’s, recognizing a need to create a community for the international workers on Mackinac Island.

“When I first got here,” Mr. Bulgin said, “people were just sitting at the bars and just wandering around. Some people were lonesome and people were feeling frustrated knowing that they missed their families. So I thought it was a good idea for us to have someplace to worship, where they can come and they can go have fellowship together and worship the Lord.”

The interdenominational services are attended by many and are held Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. in the lower level of Ste. Anne’s. The services continue until October 7 this year, and will end with a large concert, when many seasonal workers from all over the world will perform traditional music from their home countries. Other services are held on the Fourth of July and on Jamaican Independence Day, August 6.

The services and concerts are open to everyone, and, in addition to the international workers, many members of the Mackinac Island community attend.

“We come together and we magnify the Lord,” he said. “We talk about the love of God and things that we can uplift each other.”

Spending half the year away from home for so many years has been difficult, Mr. Bulgin admits, but returning to Montego Bay each fall is always a special occasion. Mr. Bulgin and his wife, Ivy, have been married for 35 years. When he returns to Montego Bay during the winter, he helps out around the house, cooking, cleaning, and surprising her with flowers. Mrs. Bulgin works as a psychologist, school and community counselor, and high school English teacher. The couple have two children, Glendon, Jr. and Dana Barret, and one grandchild.

Mr. Bulgin will stay on Mackinac Island until early November, when he will return to Jamaica. After spending six months at home, he will return to Michigan again next spring.

Coming back to Mackinac Island is like a reunion, Mr. Bulgin explained, when he can reconnect with other international workers, the rest of the hotel staff, church members, and returning guests. While it is difficult to be away from home, Mr. Bulgin is willing to make the sacrifice to support his family.

“We can come here, and we can touch lives,” Mr. Bulgin said. “Not just only to make money, but to touch lives. You see the fulfillment and you see people uplifted. Then you feel proud and you know that your work is not in vain.”

In addition to providing church services, Mr. Bulgin is also committed to other community service endeavors, such as the Food for the Poor initiative, which has built 32 houses in Jamaica and the Caribbean in the past 25 years.

“Whatever we can do to help, I am willing to do, to go the extra mile,” he said. “It’s a great sacrifice leaving the family every year, and that motivates us and inspires us. Even my wife will say, ‘It’s difficult in a way, but because I know the work you’re doing, helping others, touching lives, so I’ll hold on, I’ll push along, I’ll send you to go.’”

Each night, he also makes sure to call home to check in and see how things are going, even for a few brief moments, to know everything is all right.

“It is hard,” he said, “but it’s with mutual understanding. And it’s a sacrifice that we will make just now. The time will come when we can’t make it anymore, so we’ll do what we have to do.”

In recognition of his 25th anniversary at Grand Hotel, Mr. Bulgin was honored with three awards this year. Grand Hotel gave him an award for his years of service, and his longtime friends Bill and Camille Leibold and their family gave him another. He was also named as an ambassador for Jamaica through an award given by the Jamaican government and Western Union.

Mr. Bulgin feels “Joyful and all humility,” he said, to be considered a Jamaican ambassador. “I feel so humbled and elated to know that, yes, I can do my part to make our country proud and our government proud.”

During the off-season in Jamaica, Mr. Bulgin also works in local schools, assisting his wife and providing guidance to others interested in pursuing a career in the hospitality industry.

Fortino, Stephanie. “For Glen Bulgin, Life Is Lived In a Spirit of Service.” Town Crier [Mackinac City] 05 Sept. 2015: n. pag. Print.


Jane Seymour to Return to Mackinac’s Grand Hotel for 35th Anniversary of “Somewhere in Time”

Somewhere in Time

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. – Internationally acclaimed actress Jane Seymour will be reunited with cast and crew members of the 1980 film “Somewhere in Time” at Grand Hotel on Thursday and Friday, October 15-16 to celebrate the film’s 35th anniversary. Seymour will join hotel guests, fans and friends to kick off the hotel’s annual “Somewhere in Time” weekend, which will feature events from Thursday through Sunday.

Filmed primarily at Grand Hotel and various locations around Mackinac Island, “Somewhere in Time” stars Seymour alongside Christopher Reeve and Christopher Plummer. The time-travelling love story is set in and around Grand Hotel in the years 1912 and 1980. The hotel’s impeccably preserved historic architecture and décor provided an ideal setting for the film. In addition, the film’s premiere was held at Grand Hotel in September 1980, about three weeks before its official release.

“At Grand Hotel, we have very fond memories of when ‘Somewhere in Time’ was filmed here, and we look forward to Ms. Seymour’s return to help us celebrate the film’s 35th anniversary,” said Hotel President R. D. Musser III. “The annual ‘Somewhere in Time” weekend is always one of the highlights of our season and her presence, along with that of other cast and crew, will make this a very special celebration of a timeless film.”

In addition to “Somewhere in Time,” Seymour starred in the James Bond film “Live and Let Die,” as well as “East of Eden,” “War and Remembrance,”  “La Révolution Française,” and “Wedding Crashers.” She was also the star of the television series “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2000.

An annual tradition at Grand Hotel, the “Somewhere in Time” weekend has become one of the most popular attractions on the hotel’s schedule. In addition to Seymour, members of the film’s cast and crew will engage with guests and fans during panel discussions and informative lectures, and will participate in tours of the idyllic sites showcased in the film. Guests will be encouraged to dress in the style of the film’s 1912 setting, and will be invited to a special screening of the film to cap off the event.

Seymour, Reeve and many of the original cast and crew have returned to Grand Hotel over past decades, and have participated in previous “Somewhere in Time” celebrations. Released in the early heyday of box-office blockbusters, “Somewhere in Time” was a modest success during its initial release. However, in the ensuing years, the film has become a classic and has earned a loyal fan following, inspiring the creation of the International Network of Somewhere in Time Enthusiasts (INSITE), which works with the hotel to organize the weekend activities.

HOW TO MAKE A RESERVATION:

There are still a few weekend packages available for the Somewhere in Time celebration.

For more information, and to make reservations, call Grand Hotel at (800)-33GRAND, or visit grandhotel.com. Guests who book the weekend will have the option to extend their stay for additional dates at a discounted rate.


Woods Restaurant on Mackinac Island- A Dining Adventure by Guest Blogger Brenda Horton

Brenda Horton was a long time Mackinac Island summer resident who recently sold her home to spend all of her time in Florida near her grandchildren. We were so glad to have Brenda and her husband Ted visit us this summer during their vacation and experience Grand Hotel and Woods Restaurant.

 Woods Restaurant – A Dining Adventure on Mackinac Island
Written by guest blogger Brenda Horton
For six summers my husband Ted and I were blessed to have a home on Mackinac Island.  We would make the drive up from south Georgia each year on Mother’s Day weekend and come home after the Grand Hotel closed at the end of October. Being summer residents, we had many opportunities to eat at island restaurants over the years, and we had many favorites. Some we chose for the casual atmosphere, some for the proximity to the water, and, of course, we always returned over and over again to those with better-than-average food and service.  Like most people though, there were one or two restaurants we saved for very special occasions – when we had visitors or family coming, or when Ted and I had an anniversary or birthday to celebrate.After a couple of years of showing visitors our magical island, we began to get repeat guests.  And when we’d ask where they’d like to have dinner, the overwhelming answer would be, “Oh, we have to go back to the Woods one night!”  And so we would.It would be an understatement to say the Woods Restaurant provides an excellent dining experience.  With menus choices like Parmesan-Citrus Crusted Pacific Salmon and Lobster Bucatini Carbonara (and desserts like the Grand Pecan Ball and the Vanilla Bean Doughnut), it’s easy to see why just reading the menu can get your mouth watering and your tummy rumbling.
But . . . . make no mistake . . . the Woods is much more than a dining experience.  It’s a dining ADVENTURE!I was thinking about all this as Ted and I prepared to meet our taxi in front of the Grand Hotel recently.  As I dressed (you may dine in casual attire at the Woods, but Ted and I decided to “dress up” for this dinner), my mind flowed back several years to our first Woods adventure.  We were going out with a couple from our condo group, and when the taxi pulled up the sky was threatening rain.  Our twenty-minute ride through the woods was filled with chatter and a little nervous laughter about what we’d do if it started to rain really hard.  Our luck held though, and we arrived dry and hungry.I remember having an excellent glass of wine, an awesome meal, and service second to none.  The weather was chilly that night (it was fall), and both huge restaurant fireplaces were ablaze, with logs crackling and sparks dancing upward into the chimneys.  Laughing groups and couples young and old arrived while we ate – always talking excitedly about the trip out from town – what they’d seen, what the taxi driver told them, and what the horses did (this last part was especially exciting to any children on board).It had been raining for nearly an hour when we boarded the taxi for the return trip home.  It was nearly 9:30 and very dark.  We slid between the clear plastic drapes the taxis use to keep riders dry and wrapped our legs in the woolen blankets they keep on board for cold nights.  Within five minutes we were riding through pitch-black woods with rain pounding against the plastic.  Our driver was huddled on his seat, expertly handling two horses as he told us stories about life as a Mackinac Island taxi driver.  From that he deftly transitioned into island ghost stories.  Instead of worrying about being cold and whether we’d get wet, we laughed and sang and told stories of our own.  In short, we had the time of our lives . . . and it all started with the decision to make a reservation at the Woods!

Waiting for our taxi at the foot of the Grant Hotel front porch.
Waiting for our taxi at the foot of the Grant Hotel front porch.
The trip to the Woods from the Grand Hotel starts out with a ride up past the West Bluff summer cottages . . .
The trip to the Woods from Grand Hotel starts out with a ride up past the West Bluff summer cottages . . .
leisurely walk through the Annex
. . . and then a leisurely walk through the Annex, a beautiful island neighborhood of summer cottages and lush gardens.
Ok.  I’m going to ask you to flash forward a moment right here because as soon as we were seated that evening, I realized it would be nearly impossible to give you a real sense of the Woods – at least its dramatic interior – while it was filled with diners.  Before we’d even ordered our salads I’d decided I would need to ride back up to the Woods a few days later and take some photographs before customers arrived. So that’s what I did.
Carlton Varney, designer for all things Grand Hotel, was asked to totally renovate and decorate the structure that had once served as a playhouse for the former Stonecliffe owners children. His decision was to turn it into a Swiss Hunting Lodge, and the Woods Restaurant was born.
In 1991 Carlton Varney, designer for all things Grand Hotel, was asked to totally renovate and redecorate the structure that had once served as a playhouse for the former Stonecliffe mansion owners’ children. The Grand Hotel wanted to create a restaurant away from town and totally different from any of their other island restaurants.  Varney’s vision was to create a Swiss Hunting Lodge, and under his watchful eye, Woods Restaurant was born and opened in 1992.
Entering the Woods, you step into restaurant's expansive lobby, where mounted trophies - both foreign and domestic - are displayed.
Entering the Woods, you step into the restaurant’s expansive lobby, where mounted trophies – both foreign and domestic – are displayed.  The ones you see here and almost all of the deer, moose and ducks exhibited throughout the restaurant were taken for their meat by islanders during the appropriate hunting season.  The Woods provides the hunters a place to display their trophies which, in turn, adds to the hunting lodge appeal.
Our first stop is usually the bar for a before dinner beverage, but . . .
Our first stop is usually the bar for a before dinner beverage, but . . .
ribbon displayed at the Woods
. . . we also love to ride up to the Woods in the afternoon – to sit inside and have a cold drink and a bag of hot popcorn. All the ribbons you see displayed at the Woods were won by Musser family dogs in numerous shows over the years. The Mussers have owned both top showing Wirehaired Terriers and West Highland Terriers. And then, of course, there was Sadie, the Mussers’ Scottish Terrier who won the Westminster Best of Show in 2010!  Sadie has her own Trophy Room at the Grand Hotel.
A few feet from the bar is America's oldest duck pin bowling alley, and I can't tell you how many children love to bowl a game while waiting for dinner. Speaking for our family, the grownups enjoy it just as much as the kids.
A few feet from the bar is America’s oldest duck pin bowling alley.  Children love to bowl a game while waiting for dinner, and – speaking for our family – the grownups enjoy it just as much as the kids.
The person you will talk to when you call for a reservation - and the first person you will speak with upon arriving - is Neil Cargill, a Grand Hotel employee for 26 years and Manager of the Woods for 12 years. In Neil's hands you know your Woods evening will be perfection because he will accept nothing less.
The person you will talk to when you call for a reservation – and the first person you will speak with upon arriving – is Neil Cargill, a Grand Hotel employee for 26 years and Manager of the Woods for 12 years. In Neil’s hands you know your Woods evening will be perfection – because he will accept nothing less.  Neil returns to is native Jamaica at the end of each season.
The Woods dining room.
The Woods dining room.
We love being seated in any of these little corner tables . . .
We love being seated at any of these little corner tables . . .
. . . that are tucked away in several areas of the restaurant.
. . . that are tucked away in several areas of the restaurant.
A larger group may be seated on the "balcony" . . .
A larger group may be seated on the “balcony” . . .
. . . which overlooks the dining hall.
. . . which overlooks the dining room.
A window view is always good . . .
A window view is always good . . .
. . . and a table snugged up next to the ceiling high fireplace would be perfect on a cold October island night.
. . . and a table snugged up next to the ceiling high fireplace would be perfect on a cold October island night.
Trust me on this . . . anywhere you are seated will be perfect.
Every seat in the house is pretty much perfect!

OK.  Back we go to our evening at the Woods.

We both loved the Lobster Cream Soup . . .
Ted and I were seated in one of our favorite spots, and we soon got down to the pleasurable  business of ordering dinner.  We both loved the Lobster Cream Soup . . .
. . . followed by the Baby Spinach and Feta Cheese Salad - presented beautifully.
. . . followed by the beautifully presented Baby Spinach and Feta Cheese Salad.
As an entrée, I ordered the Lobster Bucatini Carbonara with Artichokes, Chanterelle Mushrooms, and Soft Poached Egg.
As an entrée, I ordered the Lobster Bucatini Carbonara with Artichokes, Chanterelle Mushrooms, and Soft Poached Egg . .
Prime Beef Tenderloin Medallions
. . . and Ted ordered the Prime Beef Tenderloin Medallions.
Dessert for us both was the Vanilla Bean Donut.
Dessert was the Vanilla Bean Doughnut.  We BOTH ordered one, and we both ate the whole thing!  It is too decadent to even talk about except to say – don’t pass it up the next time you’re at the Woods for dinner.

As usual, our entire meal was fabulous – everything cooked to perfection and served by staff trained to anticipate our every need.

As we were preparing to leave, I picked up a few crayons (left on the table so children can entertain themselves drawing on the paper tablecloths) and left a message of our own.
As we were preparing to leave, I picked up a few crayons (left on the table so children can entertain themselves drawing on the paper tablecloths) and left a message of our own.
Throughout the evening Darryl Dybka – a former Grammy winner who has played, arranged, produced, and composed for Frank Zappa and Chet Atkins, among many others – had been entertaining at the piano.  As we were leaving, Darryl was playing a beautifully arranged rendition of Irving Gordon’s Unforgettable, and I thought “how appropriate.” Our evening at the Woods was another unforgettable dining adventure to add to our memory book of special occasions.  Whether your night at the Woods begins from downtown, from the Grand, or from anywhere else on the island, once you’ve experienced your own Woods adventure, you will find yourself returning again and again.
Trust me on that.
Trust me on that!