I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).
Time Travel at the Grand Hotel
This unique concept of traveling backward or forward in time is no longer limited to science fiction. It can be realized by seeing and experiencing the grandeur of what life was like (and still can be today) at a place called the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, which opened its doors to the public in 1887.
A consortium of railroads and steamship companies was responsible for initiating the concept and creating this exquisite hotel. The name of the grand is indeed appropriate. What could better describe this vast and magnificent hotel that has hosted guests, including Presidents from the United States, foreign visitors including Heads of State, inventors, authors, and other noble persons for more than a century in an elegant fashion?
This stately hotel reputedly has the most expansive front porch in the entire world. The porch is broad, and some 660 feet (200 meters) in length and has hundreds of geranium boxes planted with those perfect blooming flowers.
Wooden rocking chairs accommodate countless guests or visitors to the Grand Hotel. They wish to soak up the sumptuous atmosphere overlooking the gardens below and Lake Huron's nearby vista.
This hotel is a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition to my grandparents who have stayed there many years ago, we have several good friends who have also visited that most historic of beautiful places on Mackinac Island, Michigan. These same friends' photos are shared here and make me all the more eager to visit this place in person someday.
Movie: This Time for Keeps
This Time for Keeps is the title of a movie starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams, dating back to 1947. The filming took place on Mackinac Island, and one of the prime locations was at the Grand Hotel.
There is a 220 foot (67 meters) sizeable heated pool at the hotel named after the famous actress and synchronized swimming expert Esther Williams. Synchronized swimming is very athletic but also very beautiful to watch. As described as water ballet, women athletes perform rhythmic twists and turn in the water together at precisely the same time, whether exposing their arms, legs, or bodies and often holding their breath while underwater.
Esther Williams became a rather famous pin-up girl during World War II because she frequently appeared in her bathing suit for films once MGM discovered her.
Xavier Cugat's band also performed in that movie. For those who are old enough to remember, he was a popular and charismatic band director who helped make Latin music accessible in the United States. His band performed for many years at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
Jimmy Durante started in the days of vaudeville and went on to perform on radio, movies, and television. He was not only a good musician but quite the comedian. He always made fun of his big nose, and I remember first seeing him at my grandparents' house when they owned a TV set before my parents got one in those early days of television.
So with our time travel theme, by watching this romantic comedy film, one can see what the Grand Hotel looked like during that time as well as viewing some of those famous personalities featured in that 1947 movie.
Movie: Somewhere in Time
Somewhere in Time is the title of a classic movie made back in 1980. It is hauntingly beautiful not only due to the period costuming and setting of the Grand Hotel but also due to the most beautiful music played throughout the movie.
The 18th variation of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is one of my all-time personal favorites! The Somewhere in Time music theme is a Rachmaninoff masterpiece creation.
The title of this movie foretells the fact of this being a time travel movie. Christopher Reeve, the beautiful Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer are central characters in this film.
At one point, the character played by Christopher Reeve travels back 68 years in time to the year 1912 to meet the famous actress Elise McKenna (played by Jane Seymour) with whom he has a romantic connection. There are twists and turns to the story, but these lovebirds become suddenly torn apart and once again separated by irreversible time in a dramatic climax.
Somewhere in Time Convention
At the Grand Hotel, there is an annual weekend in October where the hotel guests dress up in vintage clothing and pay homage to the movie Somewhere in Time. That must be a sight to behold!
If visitors from outer space would see only Mackinac Island and not other parts of our world, they would undoubtedly have a skewed version of what life is like on earth, mainly if they came on that particular weekend.
If looking for a completely different way to spend a luxurious vacation in a dignified manner dressed in beautiful clothing dating back a century, check out the timing for the next annual Somewhere in Time convention at the Grand Hotel and make reservations. That particular weekend probably sells out fairly quickly.
Getting Around Mackinac Island
No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island, so people get around by horse-drawn carriages, bicycling, or walking. The island is small, just shy of four square miles. You can experience what life was like before those first noisy and sputtering Model T Fords and other "horseless carriages" began populating the highways and byways.
When my grandparents were born, everyone commonly traveled with the use of horses and carriages or by railroads and steamships, among other modes of transportation. When my maternal grandmother was young, she was taken back and forth to a convent school with horses and a buggy.
That generation saw the rapid expansion of travel made easier by using those early automobiles, and they also saw the first airplanes. My paternal grandmother often commented to me about her amazement in living during those first biplanes to seeing a man walk on the moon. Her first husband flew in those biplanes during World War One.
Gardens and Grounds
The grounds of the Grand Hotel are beautiful, judging from the photos that our friends took. Water views of Lake Huron and aspects of the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge are breathtaking from this location.
Some people wish to sit on the grandiose porch in rocking chairs and sip on drinks delivered by accommodating and friendly hotel waitstaff. Others choose to use the exercise facilities, including the Esther Williams swimming pool, tennis courts, 18 holes of golf, jogging trails, and wander the beautiful grounds in which the manicured gardens, fountains, and other eye-catching attractions can be seen and enjoyed while out for a stroll.
More photos below show some of this scenery.
Grand Hotel Interiors
Our friends chose to stay elsewhere on Mackinac Island and merely visit the Grand Hotel on several occasions. This imposing structure with excellent amenities comes with a not surprisingly high price tag if one wishes to stay in one of their rooms or suites, which are all individually decorated. Some of the rooms bear names like some of our Presidential first ladies: Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush, and Rosalyn Carter.
One day Doug and Lisa enjoyed themselves by having an Afternoon Tea at the hotel. A harpist played beautiful music during that interlude of time. Delicate little finger foods accompanied their choice of teas served in fine china.
Several times our friends simply enjoyed those rocking chairs on the porch and sipped on tasty and refreshing drinks after exploring other parts of Mackinac Island.
At a specific point approaching evening, if one wishes to stay on the Grand Hotel's front porch, a dress code is mandated. A sense of proper etiquette is maintained, keeping it in line with how life would have been in the past.
Visitors can wander through the public rooms of the Grand Hotel and enjoy the amenities, although it costs an admission fee as of the time of this writing if not staying there as a guest.
Hopefully, you enjoyed learning about this grand Mackinac Island Hotel called the Grand Hotel. Whether you go to experience it by staying there, or merely visit it during the day or even plan to enjoy a Somewhere in Time annual convention, it will be an experience you are not likely to forget soon.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Peggy Woods
Comments are welcomed!
Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 16, 2018:
It sounds like you had a grand time...no pun intended. Nice that you got to spend some time on Mackinac Island and at the Grand Hotel.
Mike Hardy from Caseville, Michigan on May 16, 2018:
Our magic moment was spent out at the Grand’s pub on the Jewel golf course. The Jockey Club is a nice place to wrap up an evening.
Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 17, 2017:
Lucky you to have spent some time at the Grand Hotel just last weekend. Our friends and my grandparents certainly liked it. Perhaps someday with luck I will get to see it in person. Thanks for letting me know that the lunch buffet is excellent. I would actually expect that from everything I have learned about this grand place.
mactavers on July 17, 2017:
I was there last weekend and the Grand Hotel was everything I had pictured and more. We had the lunch buffet which was excellent and enjoyed all the art and old photos. In many ways, it reminded us of the Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island, CA.
Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 01, 2015:
Hope you can locate a DVD of the movie "Somewhere in Time" so that you can watch it as often as you like. Appreciate the votes and shares.
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on April 01, 2015:
Oh, wow. I love, love, love that movie! I have watched it several times! Sadly, we no longer have our copy--it was sold at the flea market when we no longer had our VCR player. I need to find it on DVD!!
Funny, though, for some reason, I had been under the impression that the movie was set at the Hotel del Coronado, in San Diego, California. Oops!
I saw the title of your Hub, and rushed right over to read it, though I must admit to mainly skimming it, because I was actually stealing time from some chores I am supposed to be doing instead. ;-) I've bookmarked it for a much more thorough read-through, with time to watch the videos!
Voted up +++ shared and pinned.
Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2015:
It certainly does take a fair amount of money to be able to stay at the Grand Hotel. Our friends stayed elsewhere and merely visited it which is another way to enjoy it. Our friends certainly took some great photos and gave me permission to use them for which I am grateful. Happy to be able to share them with you. Appreciate the votes and share.
Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2015:
Belief did play a part in that movie, Somewhere in Time. I am not familiar with the other one you mentioned that had the high tech aspects.
Mary Hyatt from Florida on March 31, 2015:
Oh what fun it would be to visit this Grand Hotel just to see how the "other half live".
I haven't thought of the movie, Somewhere in Time in ages. I'm checking to see if it is on Netflix!
The photos were just beautiful; thanks for sharing them. Voted UP, and shared.
Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2015:
I found the music in that movie "Somewhere in Time" to be hauntingly beautiful as well as the story line. Happy to be your tour guide with regard to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Thanks for the share!
poetryman6969 on March 31, 2015:
A beautiful place. I remember the movie. I decided that even if the author wanted the process to be real, it would have to be madness for me because you have to decide to believe it.
Juxtapose this with something like the Army of the the 12 Monkeys. At least you have the excuse of the high tech machinery and the convenient fact that you can see your effect on time.
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 30, 2015:
How I missed this I do not know. Somewhere in Time is one of my most favorite movies, bar none.
Knowing the info about Mackinac Island and the Hotel makes it even more special.
Thanks for sharing Peggy. You are a great tour guide :D
Angels are on the way to you....Shared and voted up
Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 18, 2014:
So glad you liked this. I appreciate all of the photos furnished by our friends. It does look like an amazing island as well as a grand hotel to visit. Thanks for the votes and share.
Susie Lehto from Minnesota on December 17, 2014:
Wow Peg, this is a beautifully crafted article. You made it very interesting to learn about some of the rich history of the Grand Hotel. I am more of a cabin in the woods person myself, so a visit to the Grand would be overwhelming to me I do believe. What a beautiful setting for such a grand place.