MACKINAC ISLAND, MI – When the owners of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island began planning the renovation of their popular Esther Williams swimming pool, they knew it wasn’t going to be an ordinary building project.
The resort’s swimming pool, an elongated hourglass hugging the western edge of the property, had accumulated a great deal of history over the century since its conception. When considering how they were going to approach the necessary $ 10 million makeover, planners had to factor in some big intangibles. How would they update a space that held a place in the hearts of generations of guests who had made memories through its sinuous curves? They knew they also had to carefully honor the old Hollywood legacy of the pool, named after the star whose 1947 aquamusical, “This Time for Keeps,” is known to have catapulted the hotel from red. and revive him as Prime Minister. vacation destination in the decades following the lean era of WWII. They had to keep all of this in mind while bringing the swimming pool into the modern era.
The result of this very delicate dance was revealed this summer. The new Esther Williams pool area retains much the same footprint it created 100 years ago, but combines it with the amenities that today’s guests expect when they visit the Grand Hotel in one of its iconic carriages.
Some of the new features that thrill guests:
- 15 reservable cabanas by the pool that offer a catering service.
- A new family area with a shallow beach entrance, a water jet play area and a waterslide.
- A new large heated hot tub and private adults-only pool with an infinity edge with magnificent views of the island.
- New pool, patio and lawn furniture, providing guests with plenty of space to relax.
- Extended pool house with ultramodern fitness center with Peloton bikes.
- A new pool bar and a kitchen that offers cocktails and bites.
Want to see the new look for yourself? The Grand Hotel is now offering special rates as part of its Celebrate Michigan package for this fall and next spring. (See all the details and dates below).
Hotel managers say they are satisfied with the excellent reviews this summer.
“Not only do little kids love it, their moms and dads love it too. And just as important to me, their grandmothers and grandfathers too, and even their great-grandparents, ”said Doug Dean, executive vice president of operations at Grand Hotel, who personally briefed guests on their reactions to the renovation project. “We have tried to be extremely respectful of the heritage of the Grand Hotel and what this destination has meant to so many people for so long, but also to create something that could be a little more engaging.”
The swimming area has been a touchstone – and a savior – for the resort since Williams’ “This Time for Keeps” was filmed there after World War II.
The war years had brought most of the major resorts to their knees, and the Grand Hotel was no exception. He saw a 90% drop in the number of guests. Although it never closed its doors during these financially devastating seasons, there was a particularly dark day when 400 hotel employees were on staff to serve only 11 paying customers, according to the resort historian. Bob Tagatz.
But Esther Williams’ film put the Grand Hotel on the map, Hollywood style. People saw the movie and wanted to stay in the complex they saw on screen. And they wanted to swim in the same pool where Williams had. The years since the film’s release have seen the number of guests at the Grand Hotel start to swell. “The hotel is full. We started making money, ”Tagatz told MLive earlier. And the pool that was as curved as Williams was named after the swimming star.
For more information from Tagatz on the history of the film – like why Williams went through so many swimsuits and the awesome way the hotel staff heated the pool for her – check out this story about the time, with vintage photos of the pool.
Months of work reveal modern design
When a list of Grand Hotel renovations was made a few years ago, Dean said the pool landed near the top. The teams started preparing the zone last season. Work continued as fall turned into winter, which led to the typical challenges of construction projects when working on an island in the Upper Peninsula during a Michigan winter. As you might expect, horse carts were the linchpin. They transported the supplies to the site and took away the excess as the phases were completed.
“We had a large group of partners on this,” Dean, adding that they wanted to keep as much of the budget local as possible. “We were lucky that the winter was milder. We were very happy with the way the project went.
Like all stage parents after new beginnings, Dean and other Grand Hotel executives wanted to make sure the new pool appealed to guests. A recent poolside conversation Dean had with a longtime guest underscored what he had heard. A woman whose family has been coming to the resort for years approached Dean, asking if he was the manager. She had been worried, she said, when she first heard that the Grand Hotel was renovating its swimming pool. What now that she was here? “I love it,” she told Dean.
In particular, he said, parents and children were very excited to try out the huge new waterslide and water jet area.
“From the feedback we’ve received, it looks like we’ve been successful,” he said.
Celebrate Michigan Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 Package Details:
- Accommodation in a large room with the option of purchasing an upgraded room with lake view or with balcony with lake view.
- Breakfast and dinner every day
- Entrance for one visit per room at Fort Mackinac
- One free round of golf per person with free green fees (shopping cart fees required)
- 25% reduction on lunch at any restaurant of the Grand Hotel
- Discounted ferry tickets
Book on one of the following dates to take advantage of the best Grand Hotel rates starting at $ 199 per person, per night, double occupancy, with rates starting at $ 318 for single occupancy. online booking or call (855) 885-4107 to make your reservation.
September: 12, 19, 23, 30
October: 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 28
May 2022: 9,10, 11, 18, 19, 20, 23, four night stay May: 27, 28, 29, 30
Terms and Conditions: Offer valid only for new bookings. Children ages 6 to 17 pay an additional $ 99 per night per child. Children 0 to 5 years old stay free. Taxes and charges are excluded from the rates. Subject to additional 19.5% hotel charge, 6% Michigan sales tax, 3% Mackinac Island assessment, and baggage handling charge of $ 8.50 per anybody. Not applicable for group bookings. Limit of two reservations per person. Dates subject to availability.
** Want to enjoy summer vacation again this month? From August 24 to 29, rates are $ 249 per person, double occupancy, and $ 368, single occupancy.
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