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Grand Hotel.

Grand

She was named "Grand' for anynumber of reasons. Majestic, Stately, Imposing, or Elegant would have been equally appropriate. Her 880-foot, colonnaded portico, stretching across the emerald green bluff of pristine Mackinac Island, has commanded and straits separating Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas for exactly 100 years this summer. It is one hotel that defies both camera and postcard to accurately define its size, its charm, and its hospitality.

Mackinac Island is a 30-minute ferryboatride from the mainland. Whitecaps may prevent serenity from settling in until your boat ties up and you step out into the horse-drawn carriages ready to take you to the amenities of the Grand Hotel. No taxis, no auto horns still the call of the birds; no gasoline smell befouls the fragrance of the forest. Transportation is by foot, bicycle, or horsepower (in the true sense of the word) only.

If workaday frustrations persist,wait till your carriage horses clip-clop along Main Street, past the famous fudge shops and bicycle-rental stalls, then wind up a bluff, past 19th-century houses, through unspoiled woods and lush gardens, until there she is--the grand old lady of Mackinac Island, the world's largest summer hotel. (And a long summer it is-- from mid-May into November.)

First-timers may be distracted fromthe beauty of the Grand's Greek Revival styling by the white Chinese Chippendale flower boxes--planted with their traditional 2,500 geraniums and an equal number of yellow marigolds --that extend the length of the 880-foot veranda. Distractions come easily at the Grand. You will be lured by quaint gift shops; antique treasures that line the halls, the lounges, and the meeting rooms; 500 acres of gardens and woods; the rebuilt, newly designed golf course; and the unique swimming pool, formed, employees will tell you with straight faces, by Paul Bunyan's footprint. Or perhaps the tennis courts, the shuffleboards, and the immaculate croquet green. Riding stables and bicycle liveries are not far off.

The hotel operates on the ModifiedAmerican Plan (breakfast and dinner as part of the daily room rate). The six-course breakfasts invite you to try more than 30 items. (And you won't want to miss High Tea, served in the parlor at 4 p.m., with imported teas, cakes, and champagne.)

And then there is dinner. The maindining room now becomes the Grand's Salle a Manger. You may never feel more like royalty than when you are ushered--to the music of the Grand Orchestra--between two rows of white pillars to a long, mirrored aisle overlooking the front porch and gardens. Now it's time to choose from among 50 items. For dessert, you'll find it hard to resist the Grand Pecan Ball--nut-crusted ice cream in fudge sauce. For that second cup of coffee, you may elect a demitasse served in the parlor to the accompaniment of the Grand Strings, playing Vienness waltzes and popular show tunes. Then, if the days are long, it's out to the veranda to toast the sunset.

The Grand Hotel has rightly beenlabeled an island unto itself. Still, you should explore the island upon which it rests. The exercise way to go is to rent a bike and take the scenic nine-mile route around the island along the water's edge. Then you'll want to see both old Fort Mackinac and Fort Holmes, built by the British during the War of 1812. And there may be a dozen or more stops, including Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf Rock, Skull Cave (where one Alexander Henry slept on human bones), Cass Cliff, and Devil's Kitchen, before you come back to town to photograph Marquette Park, the millionaire John Jacob Astor's American Fur Headquarters, and, of course, the Old Mission Church, completed in 1830.

If your legs fail to turn the pedalsafter all this, you can stop at one of the fudge shops for a mixed box of chocolate, maple, and perhaps strawberry fudge and then call the Grand --they'll come with a horse and surrey to pick you up. Later, relax by watching a movie, perhaps Somewhere in Time, featuring the Grand itself.

Should you, somewhere in time, becoming to the Grand, that time could be no more exciting than sometime during its centennial celebration this summer. What could add to its pleasures, the beauty of its setting, or the historic attractions only a bicycle ride away is impossible to imagine. But certainly it will be fun to find out.

Photo: The Jefferson Suite embodies the GrandHotel's distinguishing qualities--luxury, refinement, and a good night's sleep.

Photo: Is the Grand's porch the world's longestor not? Millions go about their workaday lives unaware that the debate drags on.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Mackinac Island
Author:Stoddard, Maynard Good
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Article Type:Hotel Review
Date:Mar 1, 1987
Words:764
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