This past June we welcomed the Michigan Bankers Association to Grand Hotel. Every year they take part in a variety of outdoor networking events and family activities. Below is a gallery snapshot of some of those events.
I just returned from the Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference on Mackinac Island. (#MPC14) This was my second year at the event and my first as a guest at the wonderful Grand Hotel. The weather was picture-perfect and the energy level was high.
It isn’t possible to summarize the entire conference in the space of a short blog post, but believe me, there is great optimism about the future of Detroit and the state of Michigan.
I am not actively engaged in state or local politics. For me, in addition to meeting with current clients, the policy conference was an opportunity to connect with business people we hope to work with at some point in the future. Similarly, it was great to sit in on the keynote and work sessions. I could say they were “nice” but that wouldn’t cut it at this conference. Governor Snyder made it very clear he doesn’t like – and we don’t have time for – nice meetings. We need to get things done and not be afraid of meetings with some tension and strong points of view.
The people who made the trip to Mackinac are dedicated and enthusiastic about advancing our state. The negative definitely took a back seat to the positive. (I was reminded that when riding a horse carriage it’s also best to take the back seat.)
Beyond the half pound of fudge I consumed, the following are a few tasty highlights of the conference:
While running the island loop a woman passed me running the other direction and she was having an animated conversation on her cellphone. These conference participants take connection seriously. On that same run I caught up with a gentleman I’d never met before. Turns out we live near each other and he runs one of the state’s largest law firms. Everywhere I turned was seemingly a bright spot.
Mayor Duggan spoke about how he’s working to rebuild Detroit. Not by tearing it down but by fixing up abandoned homes and making serious headway by installing 500 streetlights each and every week through 2015. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel when Mayor Duggan speaks.
Master storyteller Malcolm Gladwell addressed transformation and was honest by admitting right upfront that we Michiganders know more about the subject. Gladwell had the audience gripped with his global examples of the concept of transformation. Gladwell stressed, “the only advantage the underdog has is to out hustle the competition. It’s not about being perfect, but about getting things done.”
If you haven’t attended the Mackinac Policy Conference and are considering it the thing to know is don’t leave right before the Bourbon Night event. I did and from the looks on Twitter maybe I made a mistake. Oh, something to look forward to next year.
I must sign off with kudos to the tireless Grand team who make it look easy hosting a three-day event for over 1,700 people. Wonderful work, all!
Thank you to the Rotary District 6400 for visiting us this spring and sharing their “Top 10 reasons”. We look forward to welcoming you back to Grand Hotel very soon.
#10: Time well spent with family and friends in a unforgettable location.
#9: Fudge Factor!
# 8: No Extra Charges- A full breakfast and five-course dinner are included in most packages, as well as nightly dancing to the Grand Hotel Orchestra.There is no tipping at Grand Hotel.
# 7: The Food -All menus are renowned for their range and excellence. The legendary Grand Luncheon Buffet is one of the highlights of the Grand Hotel experience featuring garden fresh salads, savory cheeses, slow-roasted meats, and 20 plus varieties of pastries that are sure to please everyone.
# 6: The Value – Grand Hotel does a wonderful job of meeting the expectations of its attendees while delivering a level of priceless incomparable service.
# 5: Family Friendly –Children’s activities were planned with Grand Hotel to correlate with the meeting schedule; extending the benefit to their attendees to bring their family.
# 4: The Pecan Ball – There is no mistake for why over 50,000 world-famous Pecan Balls are served annually in the Grand Hotel Dining Room. That many people cannot be wrong!
# 3: Ambiance – Somewhere in Time there was a place where elegant living and style were highly valued. Fortunately it is a celebrated quality of Grand Hotel along with enjoying the scenic view from the world’s largest porch.
# 2: Hotel Action – Plans of a photo scavenger hunt, movie night, cooking demonstrations, golf on the Woods Course, wine tasting, and tour of the Grand Hotel stables create a memorable and interactive conference experience.
# 1: Action on the Island – With the opportunity of Island Carriage tours, disc golf at Turtle Park, renting bikes to personally tour the Island, lunch and demonstrations at Fort Mackinac, historic downtown, you may find yourself staying after the conference to experience all that the Island has to offer.
Each season brings new varietals to the Grand Hotel wine cellars from family owned wineries in Michigan and California. For the past 30 years Grand Hotel has partnered with L. Mawby Winery located on the Leelanau Peninusula in Northern Michigan and for 15 years with Trinchero Family Estates located in Northern California. Every season both wineries create signature wines only available at Grand Hotel.
L. Mawby Winery produces some of the best sparking wines in the State of Michigan – two of which are specifically crafted and served at Grand Hotel each season. Both wines are served for different occasions. The Blanc Blanc is on the Captain’s list in the Main Dining Room. Guests may enjoy this Chardonnay based wine each evening with the five-course dinner. The Blanc Blanc is a variant of one of their best selling sparkling wines currently in distribution. It is Chardonnay based and a classic variety of Champagne. The grapes are harvested and produced every year on their 13 acres of land in Northern Michigan. About 10 years ago we determined a need for a wine that could be produced is a larger quantity due to demand but maintain the same quality. This is when the Blanc Noir was developed and is available to larger groups or conventions. It is a Pinot Noir based wine and uses a tank fermented process in replace of a more traditional fermenting process that takes much longer. Both are dry sparkling wines using different grapes and production process but result in the same high quality product served only at Grand Hotel. We value the Michigan heritage of this winery and are proud to to bring Michigan wine selections to our wine lists for all of our guests.
Trinchero Family Estates provides Grand Hotel with four to five varietals every year. Each season winemakers from the Estate travel the California coast to find the best growing areas in the region. They follow different vintages and find out where the best fruit is coming from in order to develop the most high quality wines for the following season. Every year the wine they provide Grand Hotel is unique and a result of a combination of blends from different regions. In the early Fall Trinchero travels to Mackinac Island with multiple bottle of wine without labels or descriptions. Executive Chef Hans Burtscher, the Head Wine Sommelier, and Dan Musser, President of Grand Hotel gather to taste and decide on what will be developed and served the following season. Each of the wines we choose Trinchero then goes back to blend to make ready for the market in late April. Next season you will find Pinot Noir which is a favorite but changes yearly, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and a Cabernet. In addition we will have a special vintage of Barbera that will only be produced in small quantity as the fruit will come from the Piedmont region of Italy. Our private wine label selections are available in the Main Dining Room, bars, and off-site restaurants. We value the family owned philosophy of Trinchero and are excited every season to bring a part of Napa Valley to Mackinac Island.
We were very lucky this July to have Emmy-Award winning sportscaster Jim Nantz join us for a wine tasting event of his wines The Calling. The event was held on our Front Porch and was well attended by hotel guests as well as Mackinac Island residents and visitors. The selections for the tasting included wines from The Calling, the wine company co-founded by Nantz and inspired by his late father, who long struggled with Alzheimer’s disease. All the proceeds from the event benefited the Nantz National Alzheimer Center.
Throughout the evening Jim was available for autographs and photos. Most of the tasting varieties were also available for purchase. It was a great evening spent with friends and collegues learning about Jim’s passion behind The Calling and lets not forget the time spent with Jim Nantz himself! As Jim would say “Have you unlocked yours?”
The Detroit Regional Chamber has held their annual Mackinac Policy Conference at Grand Hotel every Spring since 1981. The movers and shakers in Michigan Government meet for 3 days to discuss the issues of today in Michigan. Some conversations that would normally take 6 months to take place happen over this 3 day period. The entire hotel is transformed into a meeting facility utilizing every available meeting room and space including many of our off-site restaurants for parties and events.
This year the event kicked off at one of the hotel’s off-site restaurants, The Gate House with an early attendee Tigerfest Reception featuring Tigers-themed graphics. The following morning the conference started with welcome remarks by Michigan State Governor, Rick Snyder and a Keynote Address by the former Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush in the hotel’s Theatre. One of the most popular events after a busy day was The Grand Event featuring smooth jazz with Lansing area saxophonist Phil Denny, and a strolling dinner in the hotel’s Parlor. That same evening down in the Tea Garden NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski joined the group for a Summerfast party. The party was complete with an outdoor tent, stage, live music, dancing, refreshments, and Brad’s Miller Lite Ford Fusion that he rode across the Mackinac Bridge earlier that evening. After hours entertainment in the Cupola Bar continued with a trio playing Motown Classics and dance favorites.
Throughout the week AT&T held a communication center in the Cottage Restaurant. MLive sponsored iPad stations where attendees could stop in, relax and checkout the latest information and talk with Michigan’s leading team of journalists. Many radio stations from metro Detroit setup in the Parlor and the Main Dining Room where live broadcasts took place. Paul W. Smith and Frank Beckmann from WJR hosted their morning shows live from the Parlor every morning of the conference. NBC Detroit setup on the west end of the hotel’s front porch where they did live broadcasts and updates.
Thursday was filled with more presentations and discussions in the Theatre. Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” brought a national perspective to Mackinac by bringing their morning television unscripted approach to discuss the current business and political landscape currently impacting the country.
Ice Cream Socials were held in Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor, a brand new addition to Grand Hotel this past May. Michigan Media Solutions hosted a Bourbon night down in the Tea Garden with bourbon tasting, live music, dancing, and cartooning by editorial staff from the Detroit News and Free Press. Final Mlive held an event outdoors at the Jockey Club at the Grand Stand featuring special guest Michigan native and American Idol Finalist Matt Giraud.
We look forward to this great event in 2014 and can’t wait to see what is next.
For the past few years we’ve been lucky enough to have a great group of instructors from all over come to Grand Hotel and teach our guests their many talents. The seminars take place over a 5 day period where guests enjoy the hospitality of the hotel while doing what they love most. Individual classes and seminars are held throughout various locations in the hotel but primarily in our meeting room space. Upon check-in at the assigned registration desk guests begin with scheduled lectures, classes, cocktail parties, and of course breakfast and dinner in the Main Dining Room.
This year there were seminars on quilting, needlepoint, knitting, and embroidery. The instructors were June McKnight from Pacific Grove, CA, Paul Nadelstern from Kaleidoscope Quilts, Judith Baker Montano from LaVeta, CO, and Sally Melville from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Below are a few pictures from this event.
Meetings and groups have experienced the historic tradition of Grand Hotel for three centuries. In the early 1890s Grand Hotel’s Front Porch – the longest in the world became the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, as well as a promenade for the elderly and a “flirtation walk” for island romantics. The first summer season was only 2 months long, but marked the beginning of a long and colorful life of one of the most historically significant hotels in the country.
One of the first lectures at the hotel was by Mark Twain in 1895 in the Grand Hotel Casino when gambling was one of the most popular past times. Admission was $1. Today admission to the hotel is $10. During the early 1900s people would choose to gather on the porch and in the hotel Parlor to pass time and discuss current events. The hotel was a natural meeting place for most visitors and residents of the island. In 1933 when W. Stewart Woodfill – Uncle of R.D Musser, Jr., the hotel’s Chairman purchased the hotel he had a commitment to provide guests with elegant accommodations and fine dining, and established a true hotel tradition. From that point forward the hotel and front porch truly became the Grand meeting place for guests looking for the unique experience and high quality service the hotel was able to provide.
It has been the meeting place for numerous state and national political gatherings. Since 1945 the summer residence of the Governor of Michigan has been located on Mackinac Island, making Grand Hotel the logical choice for meetings and entertainment. Two of Michigan’s longest serving governors have been honored with their own individually decorated suites. In addition, several United States Presidents and First Ladies have had suites created in their honor.
Every year the Detroit Regional Chamber holds their annual conference at our hotel called the Mackinac Policy Conference where political leaders and decision makers from around the state gather to discuss and decide on major factors that affect the State of Michigan. The event accommodates 900 people over a three day period. This year’s conference will be held May 29th – May 31st. (a blog post will follow the conference in June). We are the meeting place for many other large events held by the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, Michigan Recreation and Park Association, Great Lakes Governors, Michigan Bankers Association, among many others.
Elegance and fine dining continue to be the mainstay of the hotel. While always keeping up with the times the hotel is a living and working museum alive with the sophistication of the bygone era yet up to date with modern amenities and charm. Over time the family has never lost touch with the day-to-day details that make the difference between a good hotel and a great hotel.
We hope to see you soon on Mackinac at Grand Hotel.