Trapped On an Island…and Enjoying It.

By William Kendy

The 115-year-old Grand Hotel sits atop a bluff on Michigan’s historic Mackinac Island. The island itself is accessible only by ferry and is unique – no cars are allowed. Visitors either walk, ride bikes or take a horse-drawn carriage or taxi. Fortunately for meeting attendees, most of the major activities are concentrated within a short walking distance of the hotel itself. From a meeting perspective, that concentration of activities helps build camaraderie.

“As far as meetings go, when corporations are footing the bill to bring people in, do they want them to go somewhere where activities are spread out or somewhere where everything to do is either in the building or within a five-minute walk?” asks Ken Hayward, vice president of sales and marketing. “We use the term ‘contained environment.’ We find that there is a lot more interaction between meeting attendees.”

In addition to providing an intimate setting for meetings, the Grand features additional benefits for meeting planners.

According to Hayward, since the Grand offers all-inclusive packages, some of the services other hotels normally charge for are free to companies conducting meetings.

“We’ll put on a dinner banquet for free and provide live music. We don’t charge for A.V. equipment or meeting space,” says Hayward. “We provide morning and afternoon coffee breaks as part of the deal. We try to give as much value as we can.”

Another benefit for meeting planners is being able to deal with one person for all their arrangements. “We provide one-on-one convention and meeting planning,” says Hayward. “You don’t have to talk to the banquet manager, the reservations manager, the restaurant manager or anyone else. Our convention and meeting manager handles all of the arrangements for you, from transportation, guest rooms, food and activities.”

When it comes to special company functions and outings, the Grand offers golf, tennis, carriage rides around the island and some out-of-the-ordinary meeting options.

“A company can rent a ferry and take a sunset desert cruise underneath the Mackinac bridge, which is absolutely breathtaking,” says Hayward. “You can also rent Fort Mackinaw, a state fort and museum, for an after-hours private function. The food is great, the view is stunning and the experience is even better. It’s grand.”