Mackinac Island: Michigan's Jewel

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MACKINAC ISLAND, Michigan--Most people come to Mackinac Island for two reasons: to eat fudge and enjoy the quiet.

On Mackinac (pronounced Mack-i-naw) Island over a million pounds of fudge is made during the tourist season lending credence to the moniker "Fudgies" given to tourists.

The streets of Mackinac are filled with horse-drawn carriage, bicycles, and walkers. But more impressive than the fudge, is the absence of car horns, bus mufflers and buzzing mopeds. The air here is clean and exhaust free. That is because anything with a motor is banned on the island. The preferred method of transportation is bicycle or horse-drawn carriage.

A retreat to such a destination can make a long weekend feel like a week. A very relaxing, peaceful, fudge-filled week.

Mackinac Island is located where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet, between Michigan's Lower and Upper Peninsulas. The island is not large. It's two miles wide by three miles long, with a circumference of eight miles.

A good way to explore Mackinac is to rent bikes (starting at $6 an hour; or $21 for the day) and cycle the island. There is a path that hugs the coast of the island offering gorgeous views and a wonderful lakefront breeze.

Hundreds of bikes line the streets (no locks needed; theft is almost nonexistent here) while horse-drawn carriages meander by. Families enjoying ice cream or fudge in the center of town. The scene is reminiscent of another time.

Reenactments take place at Fort Mackinac.While there are many day-trip visitors to the island, overnighting affords lazy evening strolls along the beach, watching the sunset over the lake.

Mission Point Resort, located on the southeast end of the island, is an inviting accommodation. Situated on 18 acres, the resort is a good walk from the main part of town allowing guests to enjoy a private oasis.

In front of the resort a expansive lawn complete with hammock, tennis courts, a verandah and numerous strategically placed lounging chairs allow guests unlimited lakefront views.

In the back of the resort is a bike rental shop, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, In-line skate rental and a video arcade. Inside the resort resides a fitness center, beauty parlor, sauna, massage services, and Kid's Klub activity center.

In short, all the amenities of modern life are accessible even if the island is lost charmingly in time.

Mission Point has 239 rooms, including 92 room suites. The rooms have recently been renovated with a nautical theme; many offer lakeviews. The rooms are spacious and come complete with television, phone, armoire, reading lamps, lounging chairs, and vanity.

There are 33 meeting rooms in differing size equaling 35,000 square feet of conference service. There is a 575-seat theater, a 300 square foot sound stage used for exhibits and large banquets. The conference center features an executive board and a full service business center.

In addition to booking conferences here, Mission Point Resort is also a great place to book a wedding. On busy summer weekends there are up to ten weddings a weekend (banquet facilities provide expansive lakefront views). Three were taking place the day I arrived.

There are also a range of restaurants at the resort.

The newest restaurant, The Great Straits Seafood Company, is a seafood lover's paradise. Fresh fish is served in a Victorian-style dining room complete with a piano crooner.

However, what I appreciated most here was the incredible service. I had hoped to get an outside table to enjoy the sunset, but all three were taken. When a couple finally left I was in the middle of eating my main entree when my waiter asked if I'd like to move outdoors.

I wanted nothing more, but as the restaurant was quite busy and my waiter was constantly on the go, I thought it too much to ask. He brushed aside my concerns and immediately moved everything to the table (he had no idea that I was a travel writer). It was such a thoughtful gesture and that was just one of many that were performed during my stay.

Carriage rides can become history lessons when Gene is behind the reins. The concierge, John Nash, is an extremely affable man who made sure his guests were enjoying their stay. He set up carriage rides, suggested activities for children and executed everything with a warm smile and friendly demeanor.

At Mackinac Island courtesy and professionalism is served up in a welcoming, inviting way. Some said this treatment is commonplace in the Midwest. That may be, but then Mackinac holds a patent on it.

Mission Point Resort at a Glance
Address: One Lakeshore Drive
Mackinac Island, Michigan 49757
Web: www.missionpoint.com
Phone: (906) 847-3312
E-mail: [email protected]
Season Dates: May 5 through October 31
Fax: (906) 847-3408
Commission: 10%
Upcoming Packages:
Romantic Escape, at $339 per person, includes two nights in a suite, breakfast, dinner at the Great Straits restaurant, a bottle of champagne upon arrival, carriage ride and gourmet picnic for two.
Autumn Adventure Package, at $199 per person, includes two nights in a standard room, breakfast, and dinner at the Great Straits restaurant.

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