Jan. 10–MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. — When Grand Hotel had its official "closing of the Grand" last fall, work on its main winter project — four new Cupola Suites and two new parlors, on the fourth floor — began immediately.
"The project started the afternoon guests checked out on the last day, and we will have them ready for guests to check in the first day we are open," said Ken Hayward, executive vice president and managing director at Grand Hotel.
This final phase of the Cupola Suites project is a dream that started with third generation owner and president Dan Musser III and his late father Dan Musser II, lovingly known by residents and guests as Mr. Musser.
"They always talked about the opportunity (to add suites) if they ever had the resources and ability to do it," Hayward said.
Their concept was to restore Grand Hotel's original roofline from the late 1800s with a row of dormers lining the entire roof of the attic, Hayward said.
These Cupola suites offers some of the best views of the Mackinaw Straits as freighters pass by, making it one of Mackinac Island's most coveted hotel rooms.
The first suite was opened on the west end with the Musser Suite, named for Mr. Musser, who passed away in 2013.
It was followed by two new Cupola Suites in 2015, and three suites on the east end in 2017.
Originally built in 1887, the hotel had dormers sticking out of the roofline along the 3rd floor. Those were eliminated after the 1915 season to expand the third floor rooms, Hayward said.
The Cupola Suite project has brought them back.
"In a way, while they're a floor higher, we do feel architecturally this (expansion) is taking the hotel back to the way it was when it was originally constructed," said Hayward, who has worked at Grand Hotel since 1985.
It was a challenge, he said.
"Any time you take the roof off a 130-year old building you never know what you're going to find," Hayward said.
The suites, which can be rented as one or two bedrooms, with parlors, offers guests — whether traveling with other couples or families — a chance to entertain. Guests "want the extra space," Hayward said. "It's been a little surprising to us in that regard."
Couples can have drinks before dinner in a parlor or family members can play cards.
Also, the dormers in the suites offer a different view, Hayward added.
"We have 397 rooms of all different shapes and sizes and decors," but the Cupola Suites "provides an elevation change… and just having stairs to go up into the dormer and sit into the window creates a different feel in those guest rooms, and it's something kind of special for our guests."
Bookings for those suites, as well as the entire season at Grand Hotel, are being accepted now.
Brochures for themed weekends have been sent out to those who have requested them.
Guests can call 1-800-33GRAND or go to https://www.grandhotel.com/
The hotel season opens for full service on May 3 and closes Oct. 26.
However, a preview week begins April 26 (meals not included), and the Closing of the Grand event is Oct. 27 when a buffet is offered while guests help pack up things for the winter.
"We're booking fast and furious for the upcoming season," said Hayward, who said the hotel was at 99.6 percent full during the 2018 season.
"It's going to be another good one."
Cupola Suites are roughly $1,500 a night, based on double occupancy.
Category I rooms start at $345 per person, per night.
The full American plan includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Check out more construction photos below, and photos from Cupola Suites that opened in 2015 and 2017.
Read our story about staying at the Cupola Suites in 2015, plus learn some Grand Hotel history:
"Beyond spectacular!" Check out the new Cupola Suites at Grand Hotel