You may have seen one of the iconic Grand Hotel carriages or omnibuses during one of your visits to Mackinac Island and you may have even taken a ride in one. Everyday the Grand Hotel omnibus travels back and forth from the Mackinac Island ferry docks, transporting guests and their luggage comfortably to Grand Hotel. The driver always adorned in classic dress including top hat, vest and boots will often tip his hat to you in passing to say hello. Due to the busy schedule of our omnibuses regular restorations are in order to keep the carriages polished and new.
This is the last of the three Grand Hotel omnibuses that has been restored in the last three years on its way back from Indiana. After the 2017 season came to an end Ben Mosley, Grand Hotel Stable Manager loaded the carriage onto a flatbed truck and headed south down to Nappanee, Indiana to the Antique Carriage Restoration Company. In this Amish country Darryl Schwartz and his dad the late Ernie Schwartz have been restoring Grand Hotel carriages since the late 1970s. The late Mr. R.D. Musser Jr. began this relationship as he wanted the top restoration company in the country to take care of his carriages. To this day the relationship remains and Darryl and his family do what it takes to bring the carriages back to the original state while maintaining the integrity of the carriage itself. In particular this carriage you are seeing here has around 70% new material, both exterior and interior.
Once loaded onto a truck in Indiana the omnibus traveled back to Northern Michigan and across the Mackinac Bridge where it was loaded onto a freight boat for it’s travel back to Mackinac Island and finally back to it’s home at Grand Stables via horse.
Now, Ben and his staff at the Grand Stables are putting the finishing touches on it with the mechanics so it will be as good as new to welcome guests to Grand Hotel in a few short weeks. If you are on Mackinac Island come visit the Grand Hotel Stables, open to the public and free of charge. The Grand Hotel Stables are home to 6 Percheron draft horses and 6 Hackney horses who pull the Grand Hotel carriages.
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Lilac mural highlights the new Lilac Suite
by Grand Hotel
Lilac mural highlights The Lilac Suite
As we get closer to opening day at Grand Hotel the newly renovated Lilac and Prentiss M. Brown Suites begin to take shape and come to life. This week was particularly exciting as artist Michael Peck made his way to the island to complete a lilac mural that will be the highlight of The Lilac Suite. Michael Peck, who is originally from Adrian, Michigan, has worked with Grand Hotel’s interior design team of Dorothy Draper & Co. and Carleton Varney since 2001. Michael always does an excellent job of taking the decorator’s visions of the suites to new heights by hand painting these breathtaking murals.
On a bright and sunny April morning the mural painter made his way across the Straits of Mackinac on the ferry with both his mother and father in company. The ferry which had to break through a bit of ice remaining from a long winter on Mackinac Island made for an exciting start. Proud of their son’s talents, Michael’s parents enjoy traveling with him to these unique destinations to watch the murals be created and even help here and there when they can.
With the mural completed the Lilac Suite will not only feature picturesque views of the blooming lilac trees outside, but also Mackinac Island’s favorite flower adorning it’s walls inside. Carleton Varney’s vision has truly come to life with the artistry of Michael Peck. Michael Peck’s murals are so realistic that you can almost smell the lilacs when you step into the room. The soft glow of sunrise flows light through the lilac blossoms that climb up the trellis with the lake on the horizon. The horizon line of the lake in the painting even matches up to the horizon line of the lake outside the windows creating a delightful optical illusion that really surrounds you.
The artist signs his work, the lilac mural is complete.
The Prentiss M. Brown Suite next door is still under construction as well. Grand Hotel’s Mike Hepker works installing trim on the door frame of the suite while the rest of the crew work to install the bibliotheque wallpaper which will accent the photo mural of the Mackinac Bridge on the wall adjacent.
There is still much work to be done, but with the completion of the lilac mural the suites are really beginning to take shape and we are all excited to see the progress in the next few weeks to come!