Few Victorian hotels have retained their romance and beauty while inspiring admiration like California’s Del Coronado Hotel, Michigan’s Mackinac Island Grand, and Georgia’s Jekyll Island Club Hotel, each relatively similar, each unique.
Located on the western edge of San Diego Bay, Del Coronado is a Coronado Island landmark whose charming grounds cover more than 30 acres of beautiful oceanfront property. And, starting this month, look for a giant gold ribbon tied around the hotel’s signature red turret in celebration of its 125th anniversary!
Built in 1888, the hotel is a castle from the Victorian era. When it was built, Del Coronado was the largest building in the United States outside of New York City that had electric lighting. Thomas Edison himself came to take over the introduction of his incandescent lamp creation.
Called “The Del” by the locals, the hotel has a rich history and is home to Hollywood presidents, princes and legends. Author L. Frank Baum called “The Del” his home while writing “The Wizard of Oz,” basing his Emerald City designs on the hotel.
The Hotel Del Coronado is often used as a backdrop for film and television productions. Although the film was shot on Michigan’s Mackinac Island, many who have read the book say that “The Del” was the inspiration for the classic romantic movie. “Somewhere in time “ starring Christopher reeve and Jane Seymour,.
Mackinac Island is marked as “America’s summer place,” but it is the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, built in 1887, that truly lives up to the “Grand.” If the Del Coronado is a Victorian-era castle, the Grand Hotel is a Victorian-era palace. Taking just four months to build, it has weathered the seasons for more than 125 years.
The 385-room Grand has the longest terrace in the world. At 660 feet long, the porch runs the length of the building and during the summer pre-dinner cocktails are served on the porch. In fact, this hotel is magnificent in every way. Even its location, high above the rest of Mackinac Island, offers a great view.
Arriving at Mackinac Island by ferry, visitors are drawn into a different time and place. Because motorized vehicles are prohibited, horse-drawn carriages wait for passengers as they disembark. The clop of horses prevails. Like the Del Coronado, the Grand Hotel has also been visited by world-renowned presidents and artists.
The hotel received cinematic fame when the 1980 film “Somewhere in Time” was shot at this location. Although in the movie Christopher Reeve arrived at the wheel of a sports car, this due to the Hollywood script. “Somewhere in Time “is considered by many to be a cult romantic classic.
Unlike Mackinac Island, motorized vehicles are allowed on Jekyll Island, but the island abounds with unspoiled natural wonders including beautiful oak trees covered in Spanish moss.
While the Victorian-style club hotel, built in 1888, offers plenty of charm, exploring the outdoors offers the pleasure of the beach and maritime forest. The island’s beaches and forests are protected from widespread expansion by the state of Georgia.
Jekyll Island was first developed in the late 1800s by America’s top millionaires who wanted a place of their own for winter isolation. During World War II, the island was closed by the Federal Government for security reasons. After the war, the descendants of the first millionaire families were no longer interested in returning.
In recent times, the club has been restored to its previous style showcasing leaded art glass windows and ornate woodwork. Neither a palace nor a castle, it is the beautiful tower that is famous here. Victorian appeal dominates the public areas of the Jekyll Island Hotel Club, a place once reserved only for America’s wealthiest.
Don’t let any of these 19th century hotels give the impression of being outdated. The leisurely pace of the past blends with all the comforts of the present to make a visit to any of these hotels memorable, whether staying the night or simply dining, visitors are guaranteed exceptional accommodations. For romantics, staying in one of these hotels is like living a fairy tale.