A GRAND OPENING

Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine|May 2020

A GRAND OPENING
IT’S A BROADWAY HIT PRODUCTION THAT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING AT THIS VENERABLE LEGEND ON MACKINAC ISLAND, HONORING MONTHS OF BEHIND THE SCENES WORK AND ENSURING EVERY PERSON AND ITEM IS IN PLACE ON GRAND HOTEL’S OPENING DAY … RIGHT DOWN TO THE FLOWERS.
GREG TASKER

It may be spring, but the May sky is delivering winter temperatures, as well as a constant drizzle and a blustery wind—unwelcoming elements that have stalled the completion of those famous porch accents. The white rocking chairs are in place, but the porch looks barren against the dreary landscape.

Inside, it’s a different story.

Every floor of the 332,500-square-foot hotel is a flurry of activity. Workers touch up paint along stairways, in guest rooms and the main dining room. Supervisors test new employees on their knowledge of hotel amenities, while the cleaning staff makes beds, vacuums and ensures guests’ rooms are properly stocked.

Some 150,000 overnight guests will stay at the iconic hotel this season, its 133rd summer. Opening the massive hotel each year is a huge undertaking, involving the hiring and training of hundreds of new workers, transporting supplies, construction materials and new furniture by ferry from the mainland, completing a multitude of renovation and maintenance projects (and sometimes new construction), creating new menus and restocking the hotel’s impressive wine cellar, typically emptied at the end of every season.

About 800 guests are expected for the opening weekend. The hotel, which originally housed 200 guest rooms on two floors and employees on the third, now boasts 397 rooms and suites on four floors. Its ever-expanding operations include an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, gift shops, outdoor activities, bars, an ice cream shop, on- and off-premise restaurants and meeting spaces.

Preparing for the official opening in May begins months before and reaches a crescendo as the day approaches. “It’s always a hive of busy activity,” explains Dan Musser III, president of Grand Hotel, whose family has been running the hotel for three generations. “We have lots of returning staff members and new staff coming in every day. We have salespeople of all types coming to talk about the food and supplies we buy. There’s a general excitement about getting ready to open for the season. It feels a bit like Christmas, and the biggest present of the year is when we open.”

WINTER’S WORK

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May 2020