Finishing Touch

One of northern Michigan’s major resorts gets a makeover.

A $7-million makeover of the hotel tower at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme marks the capstone of a $34-million transformation of the 900-acre complex by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

“It’s a complete renovation of the hotel tower,” says Timothy Norman, general manager of the resort. “It’s all new furniture, new bedding, and all new drapes and carpeting. In the bathrooms, it’s the same thing. We pulled out all the tile and vanities, and installed new tile and vanities.”

The facelift of the 17-story, 186-room tower also included the removal of in-room Jacuzzi tubs. “That’s not quite the in thing now, and they’re not convenient to use, either, so we’re putting in new glass showers,” Norman says. “We’re not setting a completion date, as the tower will remain open and we’ll be working around the needs of our guests, but we hope to have it done sometime this year.”

The attention to the tower comes after a two-year stretch of upgrades to the original 237 hotel rooms built in 1986. Besides the new bedding, furniture, drapes, and carpets, the $2.7-million project included the addition of flat-screen TVs. Other improvements were made to the resort’s three golf courses, and three miles of underground fiber-optic cable was installed.

“We put in a whole new fire sprinkler system, one that didn’t exist in the old hotel,” Norman says. “An entirely new heating and cooling system was installed for the tower. Although those are things that guests don’t necessarily touch and feel, they’re million-dollar expenditures.”

In addition to the 423 rooms in the tower and hotel, the resort offers 161 privately owned condominiums that can be rented; 86,500 square feet of meeting space; half a dozen dining choices, including the Aerie Restaurant and Lounge on the tower’s 16th floor; the Spa Grand Traverse, with 23 treatment rooms; five indoor tennis courts; and a large, indoor water playground.

Given all of the renovations, Norman says the resort has recorded modest revenue growth for the past three and a half years. He credits the impact of the state’s Pure Michigan advertising campaign with driving business to the Traverse City area.

“We’re fortunate to share in the accolades Traverse City gets as a destination,” he says. “Between Sleeping Bear Dunes being rated one of the most scenic spots in America, (and the area being heralded for) best sunsets, best family destinations, and No. 1 family destinations on several lists, and with Michigan’s economy on an uptick, our region is looking forward to a great year.” db