2023 Michigan Road Trip
Mackinac Island &
Grand Hotel Buffet

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Hirse drawn taxi oassing Grand Hotel

Mackinac Island - Chippewa Hotel in on the left with our room the 2nd from the right on the 2nd floor

Wednesday - Day 7 (July 19 2023)

Today we moved over to Mackinac Island. The manager of the Riviera Motel let us leave our car at the motel and when we were ready, I called Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry to request a shuttle for us and our luggage the few blocks to the Mackinaw City dock. The Island docks are about 7 miles from Mackinaw City and the ride takes a little over 15 minutes.

Here is a quick summary for those unfamiliar with Mackinac Island. It is just under 4 square miles and was a summer destination for Native Americans for hundreds of years before the first Europeans came to the Island. The British moved their fort from Mackinaw City to a bluff on the Island during the American Revolution and it was turned over to the US a few years after the war. The British captured the fort without combat at the beginning of the War of 1812 and American forces suffered a defeat trying to recapture it during the war. It was returned to the US following that war. The Island became the nation's second National Park in 1875, but was transferred to become Michigan's first state park in 1895 when the fort was closed and there was no soldiers to run the park. Automobiles were banned from the Island in 1898 and are still banned today. During the summer there are about 500 horses pulling carriage tours, self drive carriages & horseback, taxis, UPS, trash pick up, hearse, etc. Bicycles are also available. The movies "Somewhere In Time" and "This Time For Keeps" were filmed here.

At the Mackinaw City Dock, our luggage was checked to go to the Chippewa Hotel and at the Mackinac Island dock, we met a dockporter (correct spelling) who took the luggage to the hotel. We walked a half mile and up the hill to Grand Hotel (you do not put "the" in front of the name) for lunch.

Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan
Grand Hotel (Original portion of the building was built in 93 days and opened July 10, 1887)

Grand Hotel changed from generations long family ownership to being owned by a holding company in 2019. In some ways it was unfortunate, but the new company can spend the kind of money on the hotel that was needed. We tried the famous lunch buffet the summer following the transition and I didn't feel it measured up. Linda believes that someone who wasn't comparing it to what it had been in the past, would be happy with it. It has now been long enough for it to settle into what it will be going forward. The buffet is $75 per person ($37 children). Service is included and tipping is not expected, but they don't make a point of telling people about that.

I will not compare the meal to the experience in the past. 

The main dining room is large and attractive with a long row of windows looking out on the famous porch and the Straits of Mackinac. The tables are linen covered with cloth napkins and (at lunch) 7 pieces of silverware. There is more silverware at supper. The buffet food is spread over several tables and includes things like raw oysters, whitefish spread and many small deserts. In addition to many cold salads and fruits, this day there were only three entrees (chicken breast, salmon and pork) and two hot side dishes plus ham sliced to order. My favorite item was the shell-on cold shrimp which were the only item which I wanted seconds. 

In addition to about a dozen other desserts, there was the Grand Hotel Pecan Ball which is a vanilla ice cream rolled in pecans and resting in a pool of chocolate fudge. The ones at the buffet are small than a normal serving and when I got one, I thought I will need to come back for more, but really, it was nothing special and I didn't want a second.

If you are in love with the romance of Grand Hotel or are staying at the hotel and get a lower price, it is probably worth doing the Grand Luncheon Experience. Otherwise, I don't think it measures up to the $75 price. Supper is $121 for a prix fixe menu.

Main Dining Room - Grand Hotel
Main Dining Room

Cold shellfish table at Grand Hotel buffet
Cold shellfish table

Hot entrees and sides at Grand Hotel buffet
Hot dishes

Dessert table at Grnad Hotel buffet

Grand Hotel Pecan Ball table
This table was dedicated to setting the pecan ball on the plate of chocolate fudge.

Grand Hotel Pecan Ball - Mackianc Island
Grand Hotel Pecan Ball

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