Sightseeing in Northern Michigan: Big Renovations at Grand Traverse Resort

The Grand Traverse Resort started as a six-story Hilton Hotel in 1980.

It became the resort six years later.

Since then, so much has changed, and it truly has become a way to bring people to Northern Michigan, who may never have thought of visiting.

But she’s not young anymore, and needed a bit of a facelift.

Take a look at the big changes in today’s Sightseeing in Northern Michigan.

“I think it’s something that has become identifiable through Michigan as part of the region,” said Tom Peters, director of engineering.

And really, it’s not just Michigan.

The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is an international destination.

“From Europe, from Asia, from Canada, even South America,” adds Peters. 

While the outside will always be recognizable, frequent guests will soon see some big changes on the inside of this building.

“Everything all new lighting, new furniture, all new fixtures, paint, blinds we’re putting in. We’re totally redoing the bathrooms, taking out the Jacuzzi tubs that were part of the original installation in 1986 and replacing those with showers,” Peters tells us.

186 rooms — at a price tag of seven million dollars.

It’s a big job that takes a lot of people.

“One of our biggest considerations was trying to get local contractors involved,” said J. Michael Deagostino, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. “I mean, our coordinating company is from Southfield Michigan, but they’ve hired a lot of subcontractors from this area. There are about 40 different workers here from local area painters, mechanical, electrical all those types of people that are part of this community.”

For a resort like this, it’s something that has to happen every so often.

“Hotels need to update and freshen their rooms. Things get worn out over time,” explained Peters. “Our occupancy is over 50 percent on an annual basis, which means that if you look at any given day, you could say at least half the rooms are occupied. That’s a lot of wear and tear that we get just from traffic and people coming and going. So, we need to update on an occasional basis, and at this point we decided it was time to do a really, really deep renovation.”

And when trying to come up with ideas — the resort looked to the most important designers they have … Their customers.

“One of the big things we’re trying to do is make rooms lighter, because a lot of people were saying the rooms are a bit too dark,” said Deagostino.

And this is just the latest change since the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians took over this property 12 years ago.

“If you take a look at all the projects that have been done through the years since 2003, it totals well over 30 million dollars, and this is just the latest stage in the whole process of bring the resort up to a state where we can really compete on a national level with other resorts of similar size,” said Peters.

It’s all in an effort to introduce more people to this skyline and the surrounding area –full of adventures, restaurants and shops that benefit when more people visit Northern Michigan.

“We’re ready for a new summer it’s going to be a good one.”