After walking around town and up and down to Fort Mackinac, it was nearly 2pm, so I decided to head over to Grand Hotel. It was at least a fifteen minute walk, and I was in no hurry. I stayed on Main Street, and kept to the coast.
Getting “Lost” On Mackinac Island
Like a complete Grand Hotel newbie, I didn’t realize that I was supposed to take a different street, so I stayed on the same shore road.
It was a gorgeous walk – as I’ve said elsewhere, the weather was amazing. I even got a little sunburned – albeit bundled up in a light winter jacket.
The straights and Bridge were always to the left of me…just over the waves.
Not too long after this, I saw a couple walking down a side street. The woman was dressed in 1912 attire. This didn’t surprise me much because first, it’s almost Halloween and second, the Somewhere In Time weekend had just ended at Grand. So I figured the couple had been on the island for that.
They walked along the same street, too. Right past the local school yard and there, up above us, was Grand Hotel. I followed that couple right through the open field behind the school to the right road to reach the Grand.
Arriving At the Grand
I actually went in the wrong door. I know, I know.
But I’d never stayed at the hotel, I had no clue where the check-in desk was located. Besides, my last visit to the Island was in 5th grade – how would I know where the registration desk at the Grand was?
So I walked up to the portes-cochère (ie., where the horse drawn carriage stops,) past that horse drawn carriage, and up the front steps. I paused long enough to take in everyone gathered on thev extraordinary porch, then stepped into the posh lobby on the Parlor Level. There was no registration desk.
Eventually I walked down a different flight of stairs and there – on the Lobby Level – and right by a door I’d walked by in my hurry to climb the main stairs to the longest porch in the world – was the understated registration desk.
In a short time I got my room key, visited the room long enough to freshen up a bit, and headed back outside to enjoy more of the day. You’ll see pictures of my room and the inside of Grand later this week. I wanted to walk around the gardens.
Grand Hotel Gardens
First, it’s October in Michigan. Most of the flowers are gone or nearly gone. Still, those of us who live here love the change of seasons.
And on this spectacular day, how could I not go out and wander around the gardens in front of the hotel?
My goal was to walk the labyrinth.
I headed out the main doors on the Parlor Level, and down the red-carpeted stairs.
If you paused before walking down the stairs, you might see that a team of horses and an enclosed carriage awaits.
Not a bad idea on a chilly Autumn day, but I was here to find the labyrinth and explore the gardens.
Do you see the stair railing on the left? That’s where I headed.
Half way down those stairs is a lovely spot to sit and take in the view. Or not…that’s salt you see spread on the floorboards.
It had been below freezing the night before, so the Grand put salt down to make the walkway safe. By the time I arrived, any danger of ice was gone, but the salt crystals remained crunching underfoot.
From the vantage point of table and chairs, you walk down more stairs to the main lawn. The labyrinth was supposed to be just to the right
I passed by the rose walk – with no roses in bloom, of course – wrong season. I walked by the wedding garden, too.
Eventually I deduced that the labyrinth is inside of the pool complex, which was closed for the season.
But I did spy the Esther Williams swimming pool.
And yes, it is named for the actress Esther Williams. She starred in the 1947 movie This Time For Keeps which (just like the movie Somewhere In Time) was filmed at the Grand.
I found bikes racked up for storage.
And a blue-sky view of the hotel from the bike rack, too.
Cedar Forest Stroll
In the same area, there’s a grove of cedar trees that during summer would provide much needed shade and cool. My stroll was crisp and sunny with leaves crunched under my feet.
I did meet a few people along the way, and one ivy-covered carriage without horses.
Fortunately, the team of horses was nearby.
People walking by said that both are displayed through the season by the fountain. But because I was there on the last day of the season, they had been sent “out to pasture” in the cedar forest.
The same area there was a lovely hidden nook. I adore little spaces like this in gardens.
And then I turned back towards the hotel to see this. Amazing, all over again.
The steep hill on the right is covered with wildflowers during the summer.
Followed by a short stop at the fountain…
just long enough to capture a short video.
Then I went to the western end of that long, long porch and looked towards out over the straits. I could probably spend an entire day sitting on the porch. With a book and a cocktail or two to chase off the heat of summer, it would be perfect.
The red geraniums are a Grand tradition. On the final day, guests can even take geraniums home.
Grand Hotel Porch
This is the longest porch in the world. Throughout the summer season it is *the* place to sit and relax in rocking chairs. But on the last day of the season, the guests help carry the chairs inside.
Still, it doesn’t matter if there are a handful of people on the porch,
or a lucky snapshot with no people on the porch,
it’s always a stunning porch to see.
Be sure to stop back tomorrow to see my room with a view!