The perfect base for a Traverse City trip.
As a value focused travel writer, I have to admit that my work doesn't often focus on resorts. Maybe I like to be creative and try things not usually included in resort packages, or maybe I’m worried that the word resort is often synonymous with add-ons and optional purchases. Either way, it was high time that I stopped assuming and started experiencing and I was eager to put my first resort to the value test. We headed to Traverse City, Michigan, to experience the Grand Traverse Resort first hand.
A Prime Location
The first thing I learned was that resorts are not strictly confined to the Caribbean and Mediterranean islands. Resorts can be in any region and in any climate and that you don’t have to be at a beach to be at a resort. The Grand Traverse distinguishes itself from its neighbours by not being directly on Lake Michigan and instead surrounding itself with green space and golfing. Those who are water lovers have the option of staying at the resort’s lakeside cottages and condos, but the majority of guests stay in hotel or tower section of the resort and are treated to great nature views.
All Inclusive Isn't For All
The second thing I learned is that resorts do not have to be all inclusive and, in fact, you could use them as just a regular hotel room if you liked. This is a good option for those who want to pick and choose from different amenities, for those who want to be off site and explore all day, and for those who don’t drink alcohol. The Grand Traverse offers a number of different packages combining different meals, activities, and enhancements and I like that there’s no “one size fits all” standard combination.
My Five Favourite Things
Five things really made the Grand Traverse Resort stand out. The first is how you could spend all day doing activities without leaving the property and, in fact, that is exactly what we did when we arrived on day one. Ryan went out for golf, while I took myself to the spa. There were plenty of shopping and fitness options as well, but we were happiest pursuing our own personal forms of relaxation.
Secondly, I was thrilled the resort had fast, consistent Wi-Fi with no passwords or logins required. If only more properties would follow this lead! As guests, it makes my life so much easier and my stay so much more pleasant. And I’m sure it makes like easier for the front desk staff as well.
Third, I was happy that parking was free AND that there were plug-in options for electric cars! We drive a hybrid car and one of the things that prevents us from getting an electric car is worrying about plug in options when we travel – it’s great to see a major resort supporting electric cars and it’s so refreshing not to be ‘nickelled and dimed’ over small amenities like parking.
Fourth – and most astonishingly – there was affordable room service! I was actually bowled over by this! I picked up the room service door hanger and gave it my usual cursory glance and then had to whip my head back to look at it again. Omelettes for $10, nothing over $15 -this is nothing short of a North American travel miracle! I’m only sorry I didn’t have the opportunity to take advantage of it, as our package included breakfast at a resort restaurant.
Finally, I loved the value and flexibility at the restaurants. We had a very elegant dinner at their signature in-house restaurant, Aerie, which included three courses each. Our server explained that we could share an appetizer and dessert and each have a starter and main course and still be within the three course limit. The meal came with gourmet breads that had been paired with equally fantastic infused oils and balsamic vinegar. Best of all, “add-ons” were included. There would be no additional charge if we wanted to add chicken to a salad or scallops to a steak dish. I was happily astounded by this! When meals are included with hotel stays, I’m used to a long list of restrictions, like how appetizers are included but starters are not, or that steak and seafood dishes are excluded. The fact that the Grand Traverse actively promoted the inclusion of all its dishes was amazing.
At breakfast, we experienced the same thing. It made no difference if we ordered from the menu or chose the buffet and there was no additional surcharge if I chose hot chocolate over coffee. It was such a care-free, stress-free, value focused approach!
Of course, the most important thing in any hotel is the quality of your sleep and ours was solid, with a very comfortable bed. Our room was clean, comfortable, and very spacious – and featured the one thing I prize above all else in a hotel room: a deep soaker tub! Deep bathtubs are a weakness of mine and yet they are rarely included in hotels any more. In the end, I only have two small criticisms to offer. The lighting in the room was poor and there were only a few standard lamps and no overhead lighting in a large room. The second is that the television seemed a bit fussy and sometimes the remote was unresponsive. This was certainly a minor issue but one that I noticed all the same.
The Grand Traverse Resort would be a perfect stay for couples or families with diverse interests, people who had driven a long distance and want to just park and forget about driving for a few days, or simply anyone who desired a value added vacation. I loved my visit to the resort and to Traverse City in general and I can’t wait to return.
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. Where was your first resort experience?
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