Sneak peek at Mackinac Islands Grand Hotel pool renovations: waterslide, cabanas, adults-only area – MLive.com

Posted: January 9, 2021 at 2:38 pm

MACKINAC ISLAND, MI - Grand Hotels iconic swimming pool, created a century ago along the edge of the famous property, is being extensively renovated with modern and luxurious upgrades that will be unveiled to guests when the resort opens for the new season this May.

Long known as the Esther Williams swimming pool for the Hollywood star who filmed a 1947 movie there, work on the elongated hourglass-shaped pool began last year.

Grand Hotel has shared some of the renderings and details of the upgrades, giving a sneak peek of a pool space that shows a stunning makeover of what had been a kind of vintage-resort swim area.

A rendering of what the new pool area will look like at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel. Poolside cabanas can be reserved in advance.

Some of the changes will include:

This rendering shows a waterslide and jet-spray area, some of the kid-friendly upgrades coming to Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel pool area.

Along with the pool renovation, the pool house is being reconstructed and expanded to contain a fitness center and bathhouse, complete with upscale changing rooms, lockers and showers. Additionally, the resort will debut a new pool bar and kitchen for guests to enjoy elevated cocktails and bites, a Grand Hotel spokesperson said.

There will also be a pool area dedicated for private events, and the second floor of the redone pool house will feature new meeting and event space. This includes a covered, outdoor seating area with unobstructed views of the Straits of Mackinac. This new meeting space will provide a remarkable option for groups seeking an inspiring location for their event with the option for outdoor space, with the ability to reserve a poolside cabana for a relaxing post-meeting experience.

New pool furniture and decking are part of the improvements planned for Grand Hotel's swimming area, as shown in this rendering.

Big Changes

The pool renovation is one of a handful of noticeable changes planned for the islands landmark resort for the upcoming season. Grand Hotel willroll out its signature red carpets and open its doors for its 135th season on Friday, May 7.

On the ground floor where its retail corridor is located, the hotel plans to debut Grand Kids, stocked with merchandise that caters to its youngest guests. There will also be upgraded boutiques for men and women featuring clothing as well as accessories.

The hotels Grand Coffee and Provisions, which just opened last year, will expand its offerings to include more picnic-style and to-go items. This will let guests select their favorites and take them outside to enjoy on the resorts landscaped grounds, or bring them along on their island adventures.

A Hollywood Touch

Grand Hotel is heading into its second year under new ownership, and the pool renovations will likely be the most extensive improvement project to greet guests this season. The swimming area has been a touchstone - and a savior - for the resort ever since Williams aquamusical, This Time for Keeps, was filmed there post-World War II.

The lean war years had brought most big resorts to their knees, and Grand Hotel was no exception. It saw a 90% drop in guests. While it never closed its doors during those financially devastating seasons, there was one particularly dark day when 400 hotel employees were on staff to serve just 11 paying guests, according to resort historian Bob Tagatz.

But the Esther Williams movie put Grand Hotel on the map, Hollywood-style. People saw the film and wanted to stay in the resort they saw on screen. And they wanted to swim in the same pool where Williams had. The years after the movies release saw Grand Hotels guest registers begin to swell. The hotel filled up. We started making money, Tagatz told MLive earlier. And the pool that was as curvaceously-shaped as Williams was named after the swimming star.

For more tidbits from Tagatz about the history of the movie - like why Williams went through so many swimsuits, and the genius way hotel staff heated the pool for her - see this story on the era, complete with vintage photos of the pool.

Grand Hotel is now taking reservations for the 2021 season. For details, check the resorts website or call 1-800-33GRAND to speak with reservation staff.

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Sneak peek at Mackinac Islands Grand Hotel pool renovations: waterslide, cabanas, adults-only area - MLive.com

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