You probably already knew how excited Maria and I were for the Grand Hotel's first ever Halloween Weekend up on Mackinac Island. Well, we took so many pictures that it took us two weeks to sort through them all. Thanks so much for waiting for us. Believe me, we have a lot to share with you. Grab a cup of coffee and settle in while we take you along on our Halloween Weekend experience at the Grand Hotel.
Friday, October 30
Mackinac Island is just that: an island. So we had to take a ferry just to get there. The ride only took about 30 minutes, but we were so excited, it felt like an eternity.
Once we arrived on the island, we needed to catch a cab to get us and our luggage to the Grand Hotel. But there are no automobiles on Mackinac Island. So when I say cab, I really mean a horse-drawn carriage.
Checking in at the Grand Hotel was just like any other hotel, except they give you actual keys instead of keycards. We were in a very old hotel, but, for some reason, the actual keys stuck out more in my mind than how old the walls were.
They also handed us our schedule for the weekend at the check in counter.
We knew the Grand had a whole lot of activities planned, but they had quite the full schedule for every day of the weekend. We looked closer at the schedule for Friday evening since we didn't get to the hotel until later in the day.
We hadn't eaten yet, so we decided to head up to our room, change, and head to the dining room for dinner.
The Grand has its own style and our room definitely showed that off. We have never stayed or will stay anywhere quite like it. An arrangement of fresh flowers greeted us when we first walked in.
In addition to the beautiful bouquet of flowers, we found another surprise from the hotel: coupons for two free scoops of ice cream at Sadie's, the Grand Hotel's ice cream parlor. Maria had been telling me all about Sadie's Ice Cream Parlor before we left for Mackinac, so we were both excited for this generous gesture from the Grand.
Once we settled in and got changed, we headed down to the Main Dining Hall for dinner. It was a unique experience to say the least. The Grand Hotel has an evening dress policy, which requires a suit or sport coat and tie for men and dress, skirt and blouse or pant suit for women. We spend so much time working from the comfort of our home, just going to dinner on Friday night felt like a very special occasion. We don't often have a reason to get dressed up and enjoy an elegant meal.
We don't have any photos that capture it very well, but the Grand's Dining Hall is huge. When you walk up to the Dining Hall entrance, the maitre d' summons a host or hostess to walk you to your table. You then follow your host down an incredibly long hall with seating on both sides. I honestly can't tell you what the capacity of the Dining Hall is, but it has to be around 300 people. Waitstaff are darting every which way, but looking graceful and elegant while doing it. (If you're interested in a Google Streetview of the Dining Hall, the Grand Hotel's website has one so you can see what it is like to walk through the Dining Hall.)
Then there is the food. Every dinner is a five course meal with an appetizer, soup, salad, entree and dessert. After eating so many Whole30 meals with Maria, even I felt like I had fallen off the wagon.
After dinner, we had a couple of options for activities for the evening. Hocus Pocus was playing in the Grand Pavilion, which was transformed into a theater near our table in the Dining Hall.
After looking at the time, though (and realizing that we could rent and watch Hocus Pocus anytime), we decided to head down to the pool house to get in line for the 3,000 Feet of Fright Haunted Trail. The trail ran through the trees in front of the hotel. It was way too dark to get any photos of the trail at night, but here is a shot of the trees during the day so you can see where it was.
While we waited in line for the Haunted Trail, we looked back up at the Grand Hotel, which the staff had lit up brilliantly with colored lights. The Grand had really gone all out when preparing for this Halloween Weekend. It was stunning.
The Haunted Trail was really long. I mean, I know it says it is 3,000 feet long right in the title, but I didn't really think about how long that was to be walking slowly through the woods at night, waiting for things to jump out at you. The trail wound through the woods, past a few small buildings and even through the Grand's greenhouse.
It was just the right amount of scary for both of us. It helped that we ended up at the back of a large group, so when a monster jumped out of the trees at our group, it was well ahead of us. Maria and I had a good time laughing with our group the whole way through the trail.
At the end of the trail was party at The Gate House, a separate restaurant and bar owned by the Grand Hotel. Maria and I were wiped out after traveling all day, so we decided to skip the bar and headed back to the hotel.
We walked through the Grand Hotel's lovely parlor, which has many sofas and chairs for guests to relax in, along with a piano for entertainment. Maria and I sat down for several breaks here during our journeys all over the Grand and the island. It's a great spot to catch your breath in. The Halloween decor was perfectly subtle and seemed to fit naturally with the hotel's Victorian decor.
It's kind of subtle, but the hotel staff had put spiderwebs throughout the parlor to decorate for Halloween. There were lots of other really unique decorations throughout the Grand for Halloween. Spiderwebs, spell books, creepy pictures, a skeleton in a carriage, and much more.
The antique-looking framed photos were a nice touch. From a distance, they looked like regular old fashioned photographs. But they were downright eerie upon closer examination.
Here is what my view looked like for most of the time we explored. I'm surprised at how well this shot turned out, considering that my finger accidentally hit the shutter button when taking this photo.
Saturday, October 31
We returned to the parlor the next morning for one of Maria's (and I'm sure many of yours) favorite things: a Bloody Mary bar. As I am not much of a Bloody Mary fan (I know, I'm weird), I went to the bar to get myself a mimosa so that my wife wasn't drinking alone, then we went to enjoy breakfast in the Dining Hall.
After breakfast, we decided to take a look at our options for the day.
The pumpkin carving was nearby, so we decided to check that out. The Grand Hotel had pumpkin carving going most of the day, with people carving in shifts. The room they set it up in was very well done so that lots of people could get their carving in together.
As you can tell, that's a lot of pumpkins. While we were exploring the hotel, we found where they were unloading all the pumpkins before bringing them to be carved.
The Grand also had a Halloween movie marathon running all day. We were too busy to catch any of the films, but it was a great idea. One of the movies they played was The Shining, which was very appropriate for such a sprawling hotel like the Grand.
Not being in the mood for movie watching, we explored the Grand Hotel for a while. The Grand Hotel is huge. And by huge, I mean HUGE. We walked through almost every hall and corridor in that place and I feel like we still only scratched the surface. We did so much walking that I was actually sore for a couple days afterwards. That either means that we did a ton of walking or I need to exercise more. I choose to believe that it was the walking. ;-)
After we explored the Grand Hotel, we decided get lunch and then head down to the Haunted Theater in town. But first, we stopped at Sadie's Ice Cream Parlor to redeem our coupons for a free scoop of ice cream along the way. Even I thought Sadie's was really cute. We pretty much had the place to ourselves, but that made sense as it was a chilly, rainy October day and not a sunny, hot July day.
Since it's not far to town, we decided to walk there instead of catching a cab. We didn't let the rain and cold get us down. Plus, we got a really nice view of the hotel as we walked toward town. Just look at how long this hotel is. Now you can see why we walked so much when exploring the inside of it.
The walk to town was delightful. Mackinac has some really picturesque streets. I can only imagine how nice it is for the people who live on the island full time. I mean, just look at this. Wouldn't you want to live here?
As Maria and I expected, the Haunted Theater was cheesy and only slightly scary, but we had a good laugh when going through it. Honestly, the scariest parts of it were the parts where it was so dark that you couldn't even see where you were going. We had to feel our way along the walls at several points, which was the perfect level of scary for two people who aren't big horror fans.
Once we were done with the Theater, we headed back to the Hotel to change into our costumes and get dinner. The evening had several more events, including tarot card reading and the Halloween Ball, where the pumpkin carving and costume contest awards would be given out.
Maria already told you what our costumes would be, but seeing them come together as planned was great. I've had many costumes over the years that didn't really work well (I like too many nerdy, obscure things), so it was nice to be instantly recognizable as Dwight Schrute.
Almost all the dinner patrons at the Dining Hall were in costume, too. Maria and I spent most of dinner craning our necks, looking around to see how many costumes we could recognize. Let me tell you, a whole lot of people went all out. There were some really elaborate costumes. We were so awed by so many of the costumes that we neglected to take photos of them. Fortunately, the Grand Hotel has a lot of them on their Instagram account.
The staff of the Grand Hotel had lined the hallways leading to the Ballroom with the pumpkins carved during the day. There were some really talented artists carving that day and the finished results were much better than anything Maria or I would have carved.
We had a ball at the Ball. (ha!) Seriously, it was a great party. They had a photo booth, a really good live band playing Halloween music, a candy bar, an open bar, dancing, and tons and tons of guests in great costumes. My personal favorite was Beetlejuice, but there was a Pope Francis, a nightmare, an alarm clock, lots of witches and wizards, and so many other costumes that I can't even remember. There were even a few costumes that were a nod to the culture of the Grand Hotel. We saw a really great Jane Seymour costume from Somewhere in Time and two people dressed as geranium plants.
After touring the island and the hotel since about 10 that morning, we didn't last very long at the Ball. Once we'd had our fill, we headed back to our room and called it a night.
Sunday, November 1
Mackinac Island is pretty remote and we had a long drive home. Sunday's activities were limited to eating breakfast and heading back to the mainland to our car so we could drive the four hours back home. In an interesting twist of fate, we were seated at the exact same table for breakfast that we dined at the night before. Maria was thrilled to have a seat by the window.
The sun was shining and we were able to enjoy a beautiful view of the geraniums, the porch and the Straits of Mackinac before heading home.
After breakfast, we grabbed our bags and said goodbye to a great Halloween weekend at the Grand Hotel.
If you've never been a guest at the Grand, you've probably been dying of curiosity to see as much of the hotel's unique decor as possible. We definitely understand! Maria spent hours on the Grand Hotel's website and searching through Google images as we prepared for the trip because she was so intrigued by the history and decor of the building. We know exactly how you feel and we went exploring through the hotel on Saturday just for you. (Ok, maybe not just for you.)
Maria is working on a second blog post that takes you along for our walk throughout the hotel and you are going to love it. We had far too many photos to include in this blog post. Check back tomorrow to see our unique guest room and some favorite details of Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel.
This is a sponsored post. We received payment, trade and/or products from the Grand Hotel in exchange for promoting.
However, all opinions stated are our own and we only promote products we love.