Friday, April 10, 2009

Down Time - Grand Hotel Mackinaw Island

Last June we spent a week on Mackinaw Island at the Grand Hotel.  We have been there many times in the past but have always stayed at a bed-n-breakfast either on the island or mainland.  I love the movie Somewhere in Time (which was filmed at the Grand Hotel on the island) and have always wanted to stay at the hotel.  The hotel host's a special four day theme weekend every fall based on the movie.  Most of the guests dress in period costume during their stay and several of the actors from the movie are usually there each year.  I have always wanted to go, but have never made it.  So when we decided to go to the island again I made reservations for us at the Grand Hotel.
When we arrived on the island and checked into the hotel there were several things that went wrong.  As a result I called the front desk to have our luggage moved to another hotel (our room was horrible).  Next thing I knew the general manager called us to say he wanted to make things right.  He asked what had gone wrong.  When I was done explaining the problems.  He very simply addressed each problem one by one.  The top two issues were our room and my food allergies.  
When I made our reservations I was assured that the hotel could work around my food allergies.  They even had a person in charge of this as it was such a common issue with guests.  I spoke with her before I made the reservations and was assured it wouldn't be a problem.  We even set up an appointment upon our arrival to go over the menu's and be sure everything was in order.  However, when we arrived and met with her it was a completely different story.  Basically I would be drinking water and eating green salads with no dressing my whole stay.  Not acceptable!  The manager told me that the hotel's head chef had just flown in from France that afternoon and he would have him contact me directly to take care of the food issue.  
Next our room was tired, musty and overlooked the service and maintenance areas of the hotel.  I would expect this quality of room at a mom and pop motel for $29.99 a night.  Not for what we were paying for our stay.  Also since we had been meeting with the dinning manager when our luggage arrived, it was simply abandoned in the hall outside our room.  The manager asked if he could arrange a better room, along with solving the food problem would we consider staying?  I said we would and thanked him for being so thoughtful.  
In less then 5 minutes a bellboy arrived to move us and our luggage to the new room.  It turned out to be the second largest suite the hotel had to offer!  With a huge corner balcony, from which we could see everything!  We really hadn't expected anything like this.  We just wanted a clean,  smell free room with a regular view.
Well after settling in, we decided to grab our bikes and head downtown before dinner.  While we were downtown I got a call from the chef.  He was extremely gracious and understood my allergy issues perfectly.  He told me he would call me each day of our stay to discuss dinner and he did!
We were even further surprised when we arrived at the dining room for dinner.  The general manager had arranged for a reserved table for us at the windows for our entire stay.  He had also arranged for the same steward and waiter to be attached to us during our stay as well.  Everyone had been briefed on the situation and they were all very gracious and helpful.  The chef had gone over and above, by creating a special 7 course service just for me, complete with all the trimmings.  Some of my favorites were his cold fruit soup appetizers and the freshly made banana chocolate mint sorbet was simply heaven.
We had planned on doing lots of out door activities during our stay (biking, golfing and sailing) but a few late spring rain storms chased in doors for 3/4 of our stay.  Fortunately the Grand Hotel has an Aveda Spa.  We were scrubbed, rubbed and polished from our head to our toes.
The best part was when we checked out and got the bill.  The general manager had completely compt our room.  So the only thing on the bill were the spa charges.  We had met the general manager a few hours before dinner our first day and chatted for almost an hour.  He was a very friendly guy and when he discovered my fascination with the movie Somewhere In Time, he regaled us with stories about past events that had been held at the hotel.  He asked us that if we ever did get a chance to come to the Somewhere In Time weekend that we contact him and he said he would make all our arrangements for us.  Such a turn around from our first 2 hours at the hotel.  We couldn't have asked for a better experience.  I hope someday I can take him up on his offer and attend the fall get together.

Here we are in front of the hotel, dressed for dinner.  The hotel staffs several professional photographers that are always around to take pictures for the guests.

Unpacking on our first day in the new room.

On the porch of the Michigan Governor's Mansion after taking a tour.

In front of a teddy bear ferris wheel we found while exploring the hotel during a rainy afternoon.

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