Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Magnificent Michigan! Mackinac Island and our trip to the glorious Grand Hotel!

Happy Wednesday!  I hope you all had a safe and fun Fourth of July this year!  I am so excited to share today's blog post with you!  I have had plans to bring you more than just fashion here on the blog but life has a way of interrupting even the best laid plans so my travel blogs have been postponed due to Kevin's illness.  I have been just dying to share my experiences here in Michigan with you because I truly have a love affair with my home state

 Michigan is a place of diverse beauty, rich culture, incredible history and natural wonders.  There are so many magnificent places to visit.  I have lived here my entire life and travelled the state extensively but there are places I still want to visit. 

I have met many amazing people and had opportunities come into my life because I started pursuing my dreams of being a pinup model and blogger.  I feel like pinup has given me a huge "family" of women from all over the globe and it has taken me on many adventures I never planned or even dreamed were possible!  I have found an amazing group of uplifting and friendly women.  Audrey and I became friends through our mutual love of Pinup Girl Clothing and soon because we are lucky enough to both be Michigan girls, she invited us to come visit her on Mackinac Island where she works at the incomparable Grand Hotel. 

 The Grand Hotel is THE destination on Mackinac Island, it is the best hotel in Michigan and one of the most renowned hotels in the world.  The Grand Hotel opened in 1887, boasting the original architecture updated with modern amenities, it is a place of fabulous vintage beauty and rich surroundings.  Mackinac Island is one of my favorite places in Michigan because it truly is a step back in time.  No cars are allowed on the island, so the streets are populated with a mixture of people walking, riding bicycles or riding in horse drawn carriages.  History around every corner, the smells of Mackinac Island Fudge perfuming the air, quaint shops offering all types of treasures for sale, glorious natural landscape and the friendliness of its residents make Mackinac Island an easy place to fall in love with.  I cannot resist the charm of the island, its always been one of my favorite Michigan destinations and is a place everyone should make a point to visit!

We arrived in Mackinac City, checked our luggage and boarded the Huron, a ferry boat from the Arnold Ferry Line at 2 pm headed for the island.

The Mighty Mac

Fabulous views of the Mackinac Bridge and the surrounding lands are breathtaking.  There is no way to describe how vast the Great Lakes are but riding the ferry to Mackinac Island, you get an idea of the size of these inland seas, it takes a little over 40 minutes to reach the island across the blue waters of Lake Michigan.

Mackinac Bridge

 When we reached the Island we were greeted by an employee from The Grand Hotel, he kindly arranged a horse drawn taxi for us and within a few minutes we were riding in style through the charming streets of Mackinac Island.  The island was bursting with blooming flowers and people buzzing about enjoying the sights.  Traffic on the island is a bit different than what we are used to in our everyday life but I find the absence of cars refreshing!

  We had been to Mackinac Island in 1999 for our first wedding anniversary and had taken a carriage tour around the island that drove us past the Grand Hotel but that did not prepare me for the magnificence of actually being a guest at the hotel!

The carriage took us to the lobby where we were greeted by the friendly Front Desk staff and I finally got to meet Audrey in person as we checked into our room.  We then proceeded upstairs to the Parlor, this is the main gathering place in the Grand Hotel.  Twinkling music played by a live harpist, antique furnishings, friendly people and posh surroundings, it felt like stepping into a fairy tale kingdom.

For our arrival at the Grand Hotel  I wore:
Top and Skirt: Peasant Top in Black and Italian Landscape Jenny Skirt by Pinup Girl Clothing
Bracelet: Lauren Hope Arista in Crystal via Rocksbox
Earrings: Mystic Drops in Ivory by Ceci Punch Designs
Brooch: Mini Frida by Baccurelli
Shoes: Athena Sandals in White by Bearpaw
Lipstick: Besame Cosmetics Victory Red

The Parlor
The Parlor door leads outside to the massive porch of the Grand Hotel which is the longest porch in the world.  The porch is glorious, enormous white columns support the roof overhead, rocking chairs are perched everywhere to allow guests to sit and soak up the amazing views of the Grand Hotel gardens, Lake Michigan and the Mackinac Bridge.

Chess anyone?
The World's Longest Porch!

A horse and carriage sculpture decorates the lawn.

 Thousands of Red Geraniums are planted in boxes bordering the entire length of the porch.  The Red Geranium is the official flower of the Grand Hotel, it is integrated into the gardens, the decor and even geranium scented toiletries.

After a bit of time wandering around in awe of the beauty of the hotel, we made our way up to our room.  This was something I was really looking forward to because the Grand Hotel has 390 guest rooms and no two are decorated the same.  I love that each room is unique and I absolutely could not wait to see what the theme of our room would be.  We were in The Garden Suite.

 The Garden Suite

Sitting area

Table on the balcony
The Garden Suite is decorated in shades of green and yellow with magnificent antique furniture, flowers everywhere and yellow roses being the main theme decorating the furnishings and linens.  Audrey was so sweet, sending a card, a bottle of wine and Michigan chocolate cherries to our room as a surprise gift for our anniversary. 

What a sweet surprise!

 We settled our things in and headed downstairs to meet Audrey who took us on a VIP tour of the Grand Hotel.  The decor is amazing, so many different themes, each accented by bright lovely patterned carpeting, whimsical printed linens, antique furnishings and beautiful floral touches.

The Art Gallery

Dining Room
After our tour we went back to our room to get dressed for dinner.  The Grand Hotel has a dress code for evenings, after 6:30 pm gentlemen must be in a suit or sport coat, necktie and dress slacks; ladies in dresses, skirts with blouses or a pantsuit.  I feel the dress code really completes the illusion of stepping back in time, it is refreshing to see everyone dressed in such lovely attire.

For Dinner I wore:
Dress: Jenny Dress in Black Cherry Border Print by Pinup Girl Clothing
Petticoat: Jennifer in Red by Malco Modes
Earrings: Mystic Drops in Ivory by Ceci Punch Designs
Bracelet: Lauren Hope Arista Bracelet in Crystal via Rocksbox
Lipstick: Besame Cosmetics Cherry Red
Vintage Clutch and Shawl
We met Audrey in the Cupola Bar for drinks and visiting before dinner.  The Cupola Bar is located in the center tippy-top of the Grand Hotel. Decorated in shades of blue with a sparkling chandelier in the center, it is a two story lounge perfect for relaxing and taking in the panoramic views of the Michigan landscape.  We enjoyed visiting for an hour and got so absorbed in our conversation that we had an oops moment and completely forgot to get a photo together!  After drinks, we went downstairs to the main dining room for our 7 pm dinner reservation.

What a view!

Dinner at the Grand Hotel is a culinary dream!  Five courses, each course gives you your choice from a variety of delicious gourmet selections.  Dining at the Grand Hotel reminded me of what it would have felt like dining on board the Titanic, which is not surprising since the movie Somewhere in Time was filmed at the Grand Hotel and set in the same Edwardian time period.  The Dining Room is massive and lavishly decorated with seating for 1300 guests!  I will admit I have never dined on such amazing food.  We were seated at a table for two overlooking the porch with its glorious view of Lake Michigan.

It is a tough choice!
Our Dinner view
Enjoying Sparkling Raspberry Juice and Appetizers

  Dinner began with Appetizers, followed by Soup, Salad, the Main Entree and Dessert. 

Appetizer: Roasted Chicken Egg Roll, Green Tomato Jam, Daikon, Red Miso Remoulade 
Appetizer: Jumbo Shrimp, Jicama Orange and Horseradish Cocktail Sauce
Soup: Wild Mushroom and Chestnut Bisque with Tarragon Creme Fraiche
Salad: Mixed Greens, Carrots, Cucumber, Goat Cheese, Hazelnuts and Buttermilk Lemon Dressing
Main Course: Roasted Prime Rib of Beef with Garlic Au Jus, Baked Potato and Root Vegetables
Main Course: Five Spice Seared Magret Duck Breast with Polenta Cake, Duck Leg Confit and Plum-Soy Sauce
Our Dessert was a surprise, the dessert plate was lavishly decorated with chocolate with Happy Anniversary written on the plate.  These are the type of special touches that make the Grand Hotel stand out!

Coffee and Dessert!

Dessert: White Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberry Creme Fraiche and Almond Crumble

Happy 18th Anniversary, Kevin!
After dinner, we were greeted by an amazing sight, the sunset over the Straits of Mackinac.  The vision brought me to tears as the sky was lit in coral, blue, purple and pink.  The light touched the Mackinac Bridge setting it aflame over the calm waters of Lake Michigan.  Such a glorious sight, photos cannot do it justice and words cannot describe the magnificence of nature!  

What a View!

We enjoyed a leisurely hour strolling the porch and around the gardens.  I really enjoyed the huge variety of flowers blooming in every inch of the grounds!  Everyone we met was friendly and relaxed, the environment is simply intoxicating.  We also stopped in the Ballroom to listen to the Grand Hotel Orchestra play while guests dance the night away.  It was a lovely and rewarding day, we were both feeling happy and ready to relax when we finally returned to our room.
18 years together!

The stately Grand Hotel

Lilacs perfumed the air
The Fountain

What a glorious night!
In the morning, we woke up early, dressed and headed down to the Dining Room to have Breakfast.  We were once again seated at a table for two overlooking the porch.  The Breakfast menu is just as lavish as the Dinner menu with a wealth of delicious foods that make choosing just one thing very hard.  
Kevin had: Sparkling Wild Berry Juice.   Poached Eggs with Wagyu Corned Beef Hash and Root Vegetables.  Lake Superior Walleye with Asparagus, Capers and Lemongrass Cream.
I had: Sparkling Wild Berry Juice, Sunny Side Up Egg, Wagyu Corned Beef Hash and Root Vegetables
Caramel-Apple Cheesecake Stuffed Crepes with Turkey Sausage
We enjoyed trying some new breakfast foods and left our breakfast with tons of energy to explore the Grand Hotel grounds and Mackinac Island.

What I wore Saturday:
Top: Tulip Top in White by Blueberry Hill Fashions
Skirt: Twirling in Tulle Skirt in Melon Marvel by Kiyonna
Necklace: Loren Hope Sunset Statement Necklace via Rocksbox
Earrings: Sophie Harper Double Bar Drop Earrings via Rocksbox
Shoes: Athena Sandal in White by Bearpaw
Margaret's Garden Flower Shop!

After breakfast, we enjoyed a bit of swimming in the Esther Williams Pool and took our time strolling the grounds.
Filmed at The Grand Hotel!

The greenhouse

  I really enjoyed the meditation garden/labyrinth, tucked into the woods off the lawn overlooking the pool, it is a peaceful place to enjoy some quiet solitude on a busy day.  
Walking the labyrinth
It was bittersweet checking out of our lovely room and leaving the Grand Hotel.  I felt like royalty every second that we were there, the staff was friendly, the surroundings are lavishly beautiful, there are an amazing variety of activities to enjoy and every detail has been provided to ensure guests comfort.  The entire experience was positively enchanting, we both felt it was the best anniversary trip ever and cannot wait to return!

After checking out, we walked down the hill to downtown Mackinac Island for some shopping and fun. Having been to the island before we were not really worried about doing too much site seeing, we really wanted to just to wander around at our own pace until it was time to catch the ferry back to Mackinac City.  We browsed some of the shops, enjoying the interesting selection of souvenirs and hand crafted gifts.  Walking around town I really enjoy the history that is a huge part of the island.  Fort Mackinac sits overlooking the downtown area and historic markers or plaques as you walk the streets tell you the story of Mackinac Island. The residents homes are all kept beautifully with lovely manicured gardens boasting huge blooms and colors exploding all around!  

The decadent smells of the Mackinac Island Fudge being made lured us into Joann's Fudge.  Joann's Fudge was voted America's Number 1 Fudge Shop by the Daily Meal and it is no surprise.  Hand made with fresh heavy cream, butter and pure ground cocoa beans; Joann's fudge is slow cooked in copper kettles, poured on cooled marble tables and hand paddled into loaves.  With a huge variety of flavors, Joann's has something for everyone along with other varieties of sweets such as ice cream, peanut brittle and saltwater taffy.  We watched the fudge being made, tried a few kinds and picked up a few different flavors of fudge, salt water taffy and peanut brittle so we could take a little taste of Mackinac Island home with us.

Our trip to The Grand Hotel and Mackinac Island was fabulous.  I really cannot wait to plan another trip with the whole family because once you have been to the island it enchants you and you want to go back again and again.

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