Michigan Destination Takes Guests Back 'Somewhere in Time'

By Jackie Sheckler Finch | August 18th, 2016

Travel to Mackinac Island and stay at the Grand Hotel to take you back 'Somewhere in Time' each October.

On a whim, a young playwright from Chicago decides to take a trip and stay at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan. Although he is a success in his profession, Richard Collier feels lonely and unhappy. He has never found his special love.

Wandering the historic hotel to pass the time, the writer encounters the photo of an actress who appeared at the hotel in 1912. Drawn to the picture, the young man feels driven to will himself back in time to meet the beautiful actress, his destiny, Elise McKenna. Somehow, he succeeds.

michigan-grand-hotel-mackinac-island4Of course, this is all a Hollywood movie. And it was made way back in 1979, for goodness’ sake. But, if you visit the Grand Hotel on a special October weekend – Somewhere in Time Weekend – you would never know the story wasn’t true or that the tale was filmed decades ago.

Ladies in long dresses and frilly hats will be enjoying tea in the hotel lobby, walking the beautiful grounds with dainty parasols to protect them from the sun or watching the sunset from the world’s longest front porch.

Men in turn-of-the century suits and gentlemanly hats will be sipping fine wine, discussing the merits of strong steeds pulling the passing carriages or taking a turn on one of the island’s many bicycles.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Bob Tagatz, historian at the Grand Hotel. “I’ve been here more than 20 years and there has not been a single day that someone has not asked me about the movie. The number of people who follow the movie is amazing.”

Starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve, the classic film featured the Grand Hotel as its backdrop. In fact, some folks swear the 1887 Victorian hotel is actually the scene-stealer. Perched high over the Straits of Mackinac, the hotel seems to have gotten even more beautiful with the passing years.

Coachmen atop glossy maroon carriages wait at the hotel entrance, the drivers resplendent in red jackets and black top hats. With the exception of a few emergency vehicles, the Michigan island is car free. When the first “horseless carriage” arrived from the mainland in 1898, the contraption so traumatized the local horses that island officials banned the newfangled machines. And they’re still banned.

Even Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour were required to travel the half-mile between town and the Grand Hotel by carriage or bicycle or on foot. So were all the U.S. presidents who have visited Mackinac Island for over a century. And so must all the guests.

Set for Friday, Oct. 28, through Sunday, Oct. 30, Somewhere in Time Weekend also features a welcome reception, grand cocktail reception, five-course dinners, half-off green fees, luncheon buffet, full breakfasts, discount on ferry boat tickets, showings of the movie and more.

“It’s just a beautiful movie,” Tagatz said. “I am an historian, so time travel is something I am very interested in. Then the theme of the movie that love transcends death is something I think everyone wants to believe in.”

Hint: The two lovers are not destined to live happily ever after in 1912. But they eventually do find each other again – Somewhere in Time.

Jackie Sheckler Finch is a journalist and world traveler based in Bloomington, Indiana. 

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