Ghosts of Presidents Past: Grand Hotel’s Halloween Weekend May Include More Than Just Treats

The Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

Photos Credit: The Grand Hotel

Michigan’s Grand Hotel on scenic Mackinac Island is one of the grandest and most historic hotels in the country. Mysteriously, this National Historic Landmark has always closed its doors for Halloween, until this year. For the first time in its 129-year history, the iconic property will lengthen its season to include a final celebration for Halloween weekend concluding on November 2. And who knows? Guests may even run into the ghosts of former patrons such as Lord and Lady Astor, Mark Twain and five U.S. Presidents: George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman.  

The special Grand Hotel Halloween weekend features all-inclusive treats for two nights, accommodations, breakfast, five-course dinners and special events and entertainment. The ghoulish fun begins Friday evening, October 30 at the welcome reception followed by dinner in the Main Dining Room. Then, brave guests can wander the 3,000-foot Haunted Trail starting at the Pool House and ending at The Gate House for the Halloween Kick-off Bash featuring Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys. Or they can head to a screening room viewing of the movie “Hocus Pocus.”

the grand hotel

Saturday morning starts with breakfast in the Main Dining Room featuring a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. Activities include a pumpkin-carving contest, free admission to the Haunted Theater, and Haunted Afternoon Tea in the Grand Hotel Parlor. End your night with another special dinner in the Main Dining Room and make sure you try the hotel’s most-popular dessert, its famous grand pecan balls, more than 50,000 are served each season. The Grand Halloween Ball and Costume Party follows, with prizes, cookie-decorating, beer and wine, a photo booth, Tarot and palm readers, and dancing to a live rockabilly band. Don’t worry if you forget to pack a costume, because behind the Grand Hotel’s Gate House restaurant is the Outlet Store where you can buy the official Grand Hotel uniforms worn by the first-class waiters, maids and bellboys.  

Built in 1886, the hosted so many First Ladies, that the owners designed and named special suites for each, namely: Laura Bush, Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford, Jacqueline Kennedy Lady Bird Johnson, Dolley Madison, and Nancy Reagan. There are also special suites dedicated to Presidents Eisenhower, Jefferson, and Lincoln. The Grand Hotel has 390 rooms, and no two are the same, particularly the cheery new 2015 Cupola Suites designed by long-time Grand Hotel designer Carleton Varney.

the grand hotel

Movie fans will note that actress Greta Garbo’s furniture from the 1932 film Grand Hotel can be spotted in the main lobby, and actress Esther Williams’ shapely memory haunts the hotel’s famous 500,000-gallon swimming pool where her 1947 movie This Time for Keeps was shot. Fans of the 1980 drama Somewhere in Time have always flocked to the Grand Hotel to walk in the footsteps of Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, and to sleep in the romantic Jane Seymour and Somewhere in Time Suites. VIPs can reserve The Lodge of Teddy Roosevelt which features antique furnishings, hunting trophies and other presidential memories.

The Halloween Weekend package ranges from $849 to $1,265 a night. Parking is not included because cars are not allowed on traditional, nostalgic Mackinac Island, just horse and carriages or bicycles. Guests can opt to also take a tour of the property with a guided carriage ride.

Vicki Arkoff

Based in Los Angeles, Vicki Arkoff is a longtime Contributor for JustLuxe, reporting on travel, entertainment, and luxury goods and experiences. She is Editor at Large for The Awesomer, Rides & Drives, Pursuitist, 95 Octane, and Technabob, and reports for Atlas Obscura, Connect, The Daily Meal, Lonely Planet, Prevue, WestJet Magazine, Where Traveler Guestbook, Where Traveler Magazine, Baltimore Su...(Read More)

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