With the Closing of the Grand . . . . 10/30/16

This is Grand Hotel’s final weekend of the season.  I remember well (when we owned our condo and arrived on Mother’s Day weekend and left at the end of October or the first week in November) popping down the hill on this weekend to get my final “fix” of Grand Hotel-ness.  After all, it had to last me till the following Spring!

Of course, the Grand can turn anything into a party, and they offer a “Close the Grand” special that begins today and ends tomorrow, when Dan Musser III, President and owner of Grand Hotel, rings the bell and declares “the season is officially over.”  The package includes a casual dinner buffet on Sunday evening and a continental breakfast Monday morning.  There’s a laid back atmosphere as the Grand cleans out the pantries and wine cellar.  Bob Tagatz (love him), the hotel’s historian and concierge, will do a presentation explaining the process they use to close the hotel, as well as give fun facts from the 2016 season.

Before the closing, there is the official “running of the chairs”, when hotel employees line up and walk briskly out to the long porch, each grabbing a rocking chair or a table or a bench and walking it back inside through a corridor formed by other hotel employees and guests.  Each item on the porch is deposited in perfect rows inside the Grand Ballroom, and there it remains until just before the hotel reopens in the spring.

If you hang around after the closing and wander through the halls, you might get a peek inside the Presidential Suite or one of the First Lady Suites, as the Grand’s staff works rapidly to make up each room and leave it spotless.  Jill and I have wandered those halls on many a closing day.  We even got inside Masco Cottage one year, and there’s only one word to describe it – DECADENT!

My friend Pam Day, who I introduced to you on Thursday, shared some pics she took this week.  You’d think with the close of the season, and all the flower beds pulled and the tulip bulbs planted, there wouldn’t be much in the way of color.  Well, don’t you believe it for a minute!


Maybe my memory is failing me, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen this color combination used at the Grand for fall color gardens . . .


. . . but, oh my gosh, isn’t it beautiful!  Every shade of lilac with some white and a splash of the palest yellow mixed in.  Love, love, love!


The trees that line Cadotte took their sweet time dressing for fall this year, but it was well worth the wait!  Those leaves are about as close to red as they can get!


I don’t even know what to say about this photo by Clark Bloswick – except that I could just sit and stare at it all afternoon.  I don’t think you’d ever find a photo that more accurately defines a perfect Mackinac Island Fall afternoon than this one.  Just stunning, Clark!

On the years we’d stay on Mackinac for a day or two after Grand Hotel closed, we got to witness the island for a treasured moment in time the way the year-round residents do.  The Grand closure is the last ritual of the season, and with the closing of its doors, hundreds and hundreds of seasonal employees leave the island, either that same day or the next.  The streets are shockingly empty, business doors have signage like “closed for the season” or “see you in the spring”.  Only one ferry line is running, and the schedule is sparse.  Islanders use this time to stock up for winter, knowing that an extremely cold and snowy winter could mean times when the ferries can’t run and the plane can’t fly.  They have to be prepared for anything.

On the other hand, it’s a time of true community on Mackinac.  The folks who live on the island all year are a close-knit group, most of whom have called the island home for generations.  I love this group of islanders, and it’s still – even after all these years – a dream of mine to spend at least part of a winter there.  I just have to figure out how to make it happen.

I’m sitting here at my laptop with this stupid grin on my face thinking about spending a month on the island in the dead of winter – with snow measured by the foot, winds howling, and nothing to keep me entertained but writing, photography, books, a big red/blonde dog, and maybe – if I’m lucky – a fireplace.  Where’s Ted in this picture?  He’s here in Florida, because THERE IS NO WAY ON GOD’s GREEN EARTH HE’D EVER CONSIDER SUCH A SCENARIO.  But if he did, well – that would just make it perfect!

Maybe not even a month.  Two weeks?

Oh well, that’s my fantasy for the day.  Maybe I got on that subject because I just came in from walking Bodie and “glow” drops are running down my face.  Oh wait!  That’s sweat.  Cause it’s still hot in Florida!

Have a great upcoming week, and God bless.


28 thoughts on “With the Closing of the Grand . . . . 10/30/16

  1. Hello Ms. Bree,….We just wanted to drop you a note telling you how much we have enjoyed your Blog…..Great Work!…..Thank you, Dean & Barb…….God Bless!

  2. Sadly I’m leaving the Island tomorrow. I’ll miss the Grand Hotel closing, but maybe I’ll catch it next year. My heart wouldn’t be in it this year. I plan on returning after Thanksgiving for the Christmas festivities in December. Thanks for sharing my photos with your readers. Maybe my next ones will have snow in them.

  3. I have to agree…that last picture that Clark took…well I can only think of 1 word WOOOOW! Amazing!! Love the colors for the mums at the Grand…those are some of my favorite colors. I loved our time on the island in the middle of October…it seemed like the island was all yours. There were hardly any people and so quite. Beautiful!. I think I’d like to spend Christmas there some year.

  4. When you want to go spend that time on the Island in the winter, and Ted doesn’t want to go, I am your girl!! It’s a dream of mine as well. You just say the word and I’ll be packed and ready to go in a hot second!!!

  5. Great post! I agree about the color scheme of the mums at the Grand, just stunning! I am so intrigued by the year round life on the island. I think it’s so interesting and so great. It’s our dream to visit sometime in the winter. I would be so happy to spend a month like you described in the winter.

  6. I love the mums in front of the grand. I might have to try that next year at my house. The photos these last two posts were just gorgeous. Thanks so much!

  7. Having our first late season adventure, it is amazing and beautiful. I am adjusting to not just the pace, but the complete lack of time sensitive commitments! Thank you for your blog and your reminder to enjoy the privilege of being here during this seasonal change!

  8. Brenda,

    “Glow Drops.” Well, that’s a new one on me. That must be a southern expression.

    The pictures of the mums and the view in the last picture of the color, the freighter and the Straits should be in a book.

    The young maples aren’t too shabby either.

  9. the mums at the Grand and Clark’s photo of the freighter should be submitted for the calendar. Or a book, like Lowell said. Both are absolutely beautiful.
    My memories of winter on the island was before snowmobiles. I’m afraid it’s different now. You used to be able to hear snow drop off tree branches, and limbs crack in the cold. Magical. And the stars! and northern lights! Oh, my! Hope you get to go someday, even if only for a short while.

  10. Smile on my face as I read about your winter dream on the Island. A cozy fire, good books, home cooking & a great community. Ahh, what a dream that would be. Great story about the Grand closing. As always love the pics.

  11. Greetings, I can’t recommend an extended Mackinac winter stay highly enough. I worked on the island in the 80’s and one year stayed on until January. Was one of the most fun, epic and memorable experiences of my life. The older I get the more I realize how special my experience was. Your island friends and contacts can help you figure out the logistics. Take your new pup and GO FOR IT! You deserve! Love your blog. Best regards always.

  12. Love the color of the mums! It would be so fun to be at the closing of the Grand! What a wonderful way to end the season. I would love to be on the island for some “” winter time”. It would be beautiful! Happy Halloween everyone!

  13. We’re island fans on Sugar Island which is 50 miles north of Mac Island. Been there for the last 2 New Year’s Eve’s……most memorable of my 67 years yet! Something about an island intrigues us humans.

  14. My wife and I took in the Grand Halloween party last year and had a blast! We’ll wait patiently until 2020 for the next one! It was sad to see all the Closing of the Grand pictures on Facebook this weekend, knowing we did the same thing last year. We’d love to winter on the Island someday as well. Something about that peacefulness sounds…….peaceful.

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