Tuesday April 22nd, 2014 - 8:58AM
MACKINAC ISLAND, MI—Grand Hotel, the world’s largest summer hotel, opens for its 2014 season May 2 with the unveiling of the Musser Suite, a one-bedroom suite on its fourth floor that will provide a view of the Mackinac Bridge and the entire Straits of Mackinac.
The suite is named for the late Grand Hotel Chairman R. D. “Dan” Musser Jr., who played a key role at the hotel from 1951 until his death one year ago. The Musser Suite is the first room to be added to the hotel since it opened its Millennium Wing in 2001. It is Grand Hotel’s only one-bedroom suite and the first step in a plan to add seven additional two-bedroom suites to the historic hotel over the next three years.
“My father and I had talked about making this addition for about 20 years and it is finally happening,” said Grand Hotel President R. D. “Dan” Musser III. “I am pleased to be able to start the project this year and to name it in his honor.”
Grand Hotel decorator Carleton Varney, president of the New York-based Dorothy Draper Co. Inc., stated the suite “is styled to be one of the finest decorated projects of my career.” Varney said memorabilia Musser accumulated through the years will be used for wall art and appointments and that the suite will include carpeting that was custom-woven in Connemara, Ireland.
When the project is complete, Grand Hotel’s roofline will look very similar to when it opened in 1887. It is the latest example of working to maintain a sense of continuity and timelessness at Grand Hotel, while at the same time adjusting to changes in the world around it by making improvements and adding amenities, according to the company.
Musser said other changes that hotel regulars will notice this season include new valances in the Main Dining Room, a renovated front desk, and a new canopy lining and new bar at The Jockey Club at the Grand Stand. The hotel Theatre will have an upgraded AV system that will enhance the many conferences it hosts. Golfers will be able to rent new Titlist golf clubs at The Jewel. The hotel also has added three new hackney horses to its stable.
“The challenge through the years has been to maintain Grand Hotel’s ambiance and character while adjusting to a whole variety of changes that have taken place in society,” stated Musser. “This season will be the 96th season that a member of my family has been involved in operating Grand Hotel and that continuity of management has been a major part of the equation.”
In 1919, W. Stewart Woodfill went to work at Grand Hotel at its front desk. Fourteen years later, in March 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression at a time when all the nation’s banks had been closed, Woodfill was the sole bidder in an auction to take the hotel out of receivership. R. D. Musser Jr., who was his nephew, went to work at the hotel in 1951, became president in 1960 and purchased the hotel from Woodfill in 1979.
President R. D. “Dan” Musser III and VP Mimi Cunningham became the third generation of their family to take the helm of the hotel in 1989. Dan is responsible for all day-to-day operations of Grand Hotel, while Mimi is responsible for the hotel’s retail operation—11 shops including a salon and spa, fine jewelry, cut flowers, clothing and gifts. In addition, her department runs a summer children’s program and the hotel’s art exhibit
In addition to its regular season opening May 2, Grand Hotel will once again offer an early opening from April 25-May 1 with rooms available for $200, including a continental breakfast. Lunch and dinner are available at The Gate House and Cawthorne’s Village Inn restaurants, both operated by Grand Hotel.
Grand Hotel is located on Mackinac Island, where there are no motorized vehicles and the island is only accessible by ferry or airplane. The hotel is open from the first weekend in May through the end of October. The 386-room hotel is a National Historic Landmark and a member of Historic Hotels of America.