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!
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.