by Robin B
One of the best small-town destinations in Michigan is Traverse City. Known for its tart cherries, vineyards, pristine bay water, historic Front Street downtown area and so much more! Nestled over on the East Bay is the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.
Vacationing in Traverse City when I was younger, I always noticed this majestic building looming over the East Bay. I wrongfully concluded that with a name including words “Resort and Spa”, along with three championship golf courses on property, I wouldn’t even dream of staying at such a luxurious place with my children.
A TRUE FAMILY DESTINATION
Well, fast forward a few years and we did have the chance to stay and explore this magnificent 900-acre property. I’ll admit I was apprehensive traipsing through the luxurious lobby with dripping wet, sand-filled, slightly whiny children in tow. However, children / families were milling about in the lobby, on the grounds – everywhere. Proof that Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is a true family destination with something for every family member.
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa offers a full-service year-round destination spot for families – yes, even during the frigid winter months in Michigan, but let’s not get into that right now.
The resort offers nearly 600 rooms on property, with a variety of choices to suit your family needs. The 17-story Tower underwent a renovation last year and offers spacious rooms and suites offering great views of the surrounding property.
Desiring more room or with a larger family? You may want to consider a condominium-stay option. According to J. Michael DeAgostino, Public Relations Manager, the resort offers 160 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom privately owned condominiums participating in a Rental Management Program. You can book these condos directly from the main reservation number. The Shores condominium complex features a private Beach Club with a beach, swimming pool, whirlpool, and food & beverage service.
The service was impeccable. My needy family (Ok, mainly me) had a couple of requests for our room – another blanket, etc. I inquired about the item at the desk on our way up to the room. In the five or so minutes it took us to arrive in the room (the numerous elevator stops didn’t help – more about that in a minute) the item was already in our room. How does that happen?
Five restaurants and lounges are on-site with menus that change seasonally offering selections using locally grown, fresh ingredients from Michigan as well as a selection of local wines and microbrews. Deemed the ‘crown jewel’, Aerie Restaurant & Lounge located on the 16th floor of the tower offers panoramic views of Grand Traverse Bay. The children’s menu offers reasonably priced fare – cheeseburger, grilled cheese and the popular mac n cheese. Make sure you save room for dessert. As a peanut butter addict, I was over the moon about the chocolate peanut butter confectionery delight.
You will want to have breakfast at the Sweetwater American Bistro, located near the Grand Lobby. Our last morning at the resort we enjoyed the huge indoor pool first and then headed to the Bistro. Breakfast is served daily from 7:00 – 11:00 a.m. and features an extensive omelet station. My children loved being able to select their own ingredients and watch the omelet being flipped to perfection (slightly different experience than our at-home omelets).
Indoor. Water. Playground. – you had my children at these three words! This was the icing on the cake for our stay as we didn’t have to rely on a sunny 80-degree beach day to have fun in the water. Grand Traverse Resort and Spa also offers:
- Four, yes four, indoor/outdoor pools and several hot tubs – we loved the spacious feel of the pools.
- Shuttle service to the beach. We did luck out with a sunny 80-degree beach day and took a quick 5-minute shuttle ride across the street to the Shores Beach Club to enjoy the East Bay and another outdoor pool. The beach area is spacious with plenty of lounge chairs. There is small snack shop offering sandwiches, fries, and beverages.
- Blue Sky Rentals is located at the Shores Beach Club and rents out pontoons, jet skis, paddleboards and more. Make sure to stop by the Concierge at the Resort in order to receive a $10 off voucher toward a rental!
- Kids activities Monday – Saturday through Labor Day at the Shores Beach Club. The schedule is posted online and offers activities such as a pool party, scavenger hunt, Frisbee golf, pottery painting, lawn games, water gun challenge and more. *Some activities require a small fee.
- Saturday nights during the summer months the Resort hosts a bonfire at the Shores Beach Club from 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. S’more kits are available so you don’t need to pack anything!
- Tennis anyone? Children can enjoy a free tennis lesson on Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. in the health club facility.
The Resort offers some option for guests who may want a date night during their stay. Every Saturday from 6:00 – 11:00 p.m. kids (ages 6-12) can enjoy games, swimming, crafts with movie time and a pizza party. Pre-registration is required and a fee applies. Additionally, the Resort offers in-room babysitting based on an hourly rate.
- The glass tower elevators. Although this may be a curse if you have more than one child. Ours fought constantly over who could push the button and I think we managed to make a stop at each floor in the tower. Seriously, the glass elevator is cool and each time we embarked on a ride I saw something on property I wanted to check out. There is one non-glass elevator in case you aren’t fond of heights.
- Conveniently located right across from the tower elevators is Dylan’s Candy Bar. The aroma will hit you before you even see the store. You’ll find just about every sweet imaginable as well as the award-winning Moomers ice cream (a must have in Traverse City).
- Staying over a weekend? You can visit the Sara Hardy Farmer’s Market. The resort provides complimentary shuttle rides to guests. The shuttle departs daily at 10:00 a.m. and returns back to the resort at 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays.
- Don’t want your furry friend to miss out on the fun? Located on property, the resort has the Dogs Dream Inn for guests who want to bring their canine friend on vacation. DeAgostino relayed it is a cage-free environment in order to allow dogs to socialize and play. Since it is staffed 24 / 7, guests are free to check in on Fido any time day or night.
FUN FOR ALL SEASONS
Fall would be an enjoyable time to visit the Resort – take a walk along the property and see the fall foliage.
In the winter, the resort offers ice skating, cross-county skiing, and more – without leaving the property. You can bring your own equipment, or rent from the resort. Nearby Antler Ridge Farms offers sleigh rides accompanied by a bonfire and of course hot chocolate. The resort offers complimentary shuttle rides to the farm.
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa has several packages to consider. The 2-Night Family Fun package is the perfect getaway to enjoy the beauty and fun of Traverse City.
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa | 800-236-1577
100 Grand Traverse Village Blvd., P.O. Box 404 Acme, MI 49610