|Detroit Free PressMcClatchy-Tribune
Jul. 10--Today is the 120th anniversary of the Mackinac Island landmark.
BIG AND OLD
A ferry company and two railroads teamed up to start work on the world's largest summer hotel in 1886, and it opened on July 10, 1887, with rates of $3 to $5 a night. Today, nightly rates are $250 to $665.
The hotel was designed by the Detroit firm Mason & Rice, which included architect George D. Mason, who designed the Masonic Temple, Century Club and Gem Theatre in Detroit.
The hotel's west wing was added in 1897. The east wing was built in 1989, the same year the hotel was designated a national historic landmark.
BIG AND DIFFERENT
The hotel boasts that it has 385 guest rooms with no two decorated the same. In 1977, interior designer Carleton Varney of New York redid every room and the public spaces of the hotel, using bright colors and floral patterns, especially geraniums.
Five rooms are named for and decorated in honor of U.S. first ladies. For example, the Rosalynn Carter Room features a peach motif, and the Lady Bird Johnson Room is decked out in her favorite wildflowers.
BIG AND GRAND
The hotel's renowned front porch is 660 feet, making it the longest in the world.
According to www.grandhotel.com, a ton of bulbs are planted in the fall, including 25,000 tulips and 15,000 daffodils. It takes 500,000 gallons of water to fill the swimming pool. The hotel served up 83,000 pounds of prime rib and 23,500 pounds of ham last year.
BIG AND POPULAR
Last year, guest No. 5 million checked in. Earlier guests included authors Alex Haley and Mark Twain, musicians Lou Rawls, Herbie Hancock and Madonna, former Presidents Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald R. Ford, George Bush and Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and several U.S. Supreme Court justices.
BIG AND NEW
This year, the entire hotel became air-conditioned.
The newer rooms have had air-conditioning for years, but in an effort to preserve the hotel's architecture, guests in the 170 lakefront rooms had to rely on fans. Now, water-heat exchangers that use the rooms' cold-water system will help keep customers cool. And the discharged warm water will be used to fill and heat the pool.
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