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Consider a Trip to Mackinac Island [PHOTOS]

Many of you may be taking a vacation this summer. This year you may have seen a lot of commercials dealing with “Pure Michigan.” This push is to try and bring more people to enjoy the state and see that is more than just Detroit. My parents, grand parents and great-grandparents called this state home and of all the years I went on summer trips to Michigan, I never made it to the Upper Peninsula, or as they call it, the “U.P.” My wife and I decided to go to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island to celebrate our anniversary early.

The Grand Hotel is just one of many places that you can stay on the island, but I have to say, it is world class and I highly recommend it. The Grand Hotel gives you a view of the Great Lakes from high above the island, and is 125 years old this year. Before I go into my interview with the owner of the Grand Hotel, Dan Musser III, I thought I’d give a little background.

Mackinac Island is between and Upper and Lower Peninsula, and is about 8 miles around.  About 500 people  live there all year.  The island is really known for its fudge and taking you back into time. In the early 1900s, automobiles were banned from the island, so you have a choice: walk, bike, or ride via horse. It definitely has a lot of simplicity, and for that alone it was worth the visit.

My wife and I really enjoyed the Main Dining Room, where you are treated to a high class five-course meal and service through the night while, all while dressed in your “after 5 attire.” We even got a big breakfast each morning. Musser said that is one of his favorite things too.

“My father always said that it does not cost us a dime to ask guests to dress up, but it changes the atmosphere to an elegant one,” he said. “I feel that is not stuffy, but elegant and yet fun. I think it is a joy to watch all the guests walk down the long promenade, dressed in their finest, going to dinner.”

Another favorite is the swimming pool, which has been a family favorite for years. This pool was featured in in the 1947 movie “This Time For Keeps.” Families used the pool after riding around on bikes or walking in the heat.  It really relaxes you before you go to the dining room for dinner.

Perhaps one of the most visible features is the Grand Hotel Patio, which stretches 660 feet. This area was highly enjoyed by visitors throughout our visit. You can watch boats go by, watch kids play a huge game of chess or just take pictures. There is nothing like sitting on the rocking chair.

The Grand Hotel is only part of the island, and Musser said that he does his part to promote people coming to Mackinac Island, which is over 80% owned by the State of Michigan.

“We have worked with the Mackinac Island State Park, which has a Board of Commissioners appointed by the Governor of the State of Michigan, from the early 1950′s when my great uncle was Chairman,” he said.  “He helped develop Fort Mackinac from basically a ruin to the professionally run and staffed historic tourist destination it is today.”

Fort Mackinac is a great place for families to see what life was like in the War of 1812 and see how American Soldiers lived in small quarters, how they were treated and even how the island survived the small pox scare.

Several presidents have visited Mackinac Island, including Bill Clinton, George Bush, Gerald Ford, John F. Kennedy and Missouri’s own Harry S. Truman. Musser said, “We have had, and continue to have, a wide variety of guests. One of my favorite memories is was when I was a youngster and the movie ‘Somewhere In Time‘ was being filmed with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. He was just off the first Superman movie and, of course, Jane Seymour with her lovely accent and way about her was of must interest to me at that time. However, the guests I enjoy the most are the ones who are here for a special occasion, have maybe saved up to be with us and are excited to come here. We are equally excited to have them and serve them, and it is a great pleasure to have them enjoying their time with us and creating memories that will last a lifetime.”

There are activities planned throughout the day, from bocci ball to croquet, to a walk through the Hotel Gardens and historical tours of the island, shopping, fishing trips, and cruises around the island.

I hope you get the chance to visit Mackinac Island at least once in your life.  Don’t forget to taste the fudge, which many say is one of their leading exports off the island.

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