The Grand Hotel’s “Independence Day Celebration” has got to be my all-time favorite way to spend the weekend of July 4 — a most generous and amazing gift from Craig’s parents! The four of us, along with Christopher’s best friend Jacob, arrived at the hotel on Friday afternoon. Sarah and I decided to go for a swim, while Craig took the boys biking along the miles of bikepaths that surround the island. (More about that in this Sunday’s article on AnnArbor.com.)
It was kind of fun, dabbling our toes in the pool of prosperity, embracing it will all our senses from dawn to dusk, and then till dawn again. Our room, overlooking the pool as well as Lake Huron, was appointed with boldly flowered paper and white furniture. The Salle a Manger tantalized the most discriminating palate, with offerings from broiled quail to creme brulee. The world’s hardest-working musicians kept everyone humming through the day — patriotic favorites during the picnics, harpist at teatime, and a range of big band and pop in the evenings.
With all this opulence, I was happy to find that it was possible to get a few “freebies” (well, free after the room was paid for…). I thought I’d mention a few of our favorites, in case you’re thinking of making reservations for the NEXT celebration!
Our Top 10 “Freebies” at the Grand Hotel
1. Gummy worms on the children’s buffet (Chris filled up half his plate before I realized what he was doing). I filled up on fresh strawberries and crème brulee.
2. Free bikes for kids (next to the tennis court).
3. Free, fully staffed children’s programs in afternoon and evening, so adults can enjoy some “alone” time. (Be sure to leave your cell number, in case an escape artist breaks loose.)
4. Free crayons in the Marketplace (we bought a coloring book to go with them).
5. Free champagne at the Welcome Reception … Shirley Temples for the kids.
6. Free, live band music every evening.
7. Free golf for kids (adults pay half-price fare).
8. Free Children’s Carnival – inflatable rides, carnival games, treats and VERY generous prize policy.
9. Free chocolate mints as you leave the dining room, and again on your pillow at night.
10. Vigil Mass at St. Anne’s (in October they will have a $5 Summer Rafflel, and you can win a free weekend on Mackinac Island for your family!).
Not on our list — but certainly worth mention — is the top-notch staff at the hotel. Consierge Katie and the security staff at the hotel moved heaven and earth to find our boys (see the AA.com article for details), and everyone from the waitstaff to the housekeeping staff did a great job of making sure it was a weekend we would never forget!