We launch our Sweet Summer fudge-making season on Mackinac Island on May 1!
Are you ready for another celebration of Pure Michigan bike rides, horses, ferries and fudge?
As we prepare our Original Murdick’s Fudge candy kitchens for your next visit, we asked Mackinac Island’s tourism leader about highlights from last summer and what to expect this season.
We last saw Tim Hygh, executive director-Mackinac Island Tourism, at the Grand Hotel working the noisy porch crowd and glad-handing with dignitaries during one of those big fall conventions.
We tracked him down last week for another Murdick’s Mackinac News Q&A. Here are some of Tim’s insights as we watch the snow melt.
• How would you compare the 2014 Mackinac Island season to those in the past?
2014 was a year that most people will remember for a long time because of the record cold. Shepler’s was the first freight boat to break the ice back then. They made their first trek from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island on April 24 – that was three days after the calendar told us it was spring 2014 and just a week before Grand Hotel officially opened. At the end of the 2014 season, our room/lodging business was up six percent over 2013. Apparently, there was a lot of pent up demand to come to Mackinac Island after that long, cold winter.
• How is Mackinac Island tourism promotion evolving for the coming season?
Visitors soon will have an App to help them plan their Mackinac stay. We are always tweaking our website and social media platforms to keep our visitors informed. We’re also looking at more New Year’s Eve options because of the higher demand.
• What’s new?
Lots, but here are three neat things.
Shepler’s is celebrating its 70th anniversary now as a third-generation, family-run business with several promotions throughout the season. The company also is building a new ferry, Miss Margy, right here in Michigan, which should be ready for the summer season.
Great Turtle Kayak Tours is opening a new retail store in the Horse Corral Mall and will sell GTKT apparel and paddling gear. They’ll also offer family discounts twice per day. Check their website for more details.
“Peaceful Mackinac” is this summer’s theme at the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum. A new sculpture will be installed in the newly constructed peace garden near the museum. The sculpture and the reconstruction of historic Fort Holmes are both expected to be dedicated on July 18, the 200th anniversary honoring peace between the United States and Canada.
• What’s happening along Mackinac’s Main Street to improve the visitor experience?
We’ve been working this winter on making riding your bicycle downtown a bit easier this season. There will be more bike racks and, in yet another “only on Mackinac Island move,” the city and businesses are developing employee bicycle parking lots.
• Any recommendations for visitors on things to do or visit on Mackinac Island?
First-time visitors should really budget their time to include a guided Mackinac Island Carriage Tour so they can get a feel for most of the island and her rich history. Fort Mackinac is always an entertaining treat with spectacular views of the Straits of Mackinac and entertaining interpreters. A bike ride, fudge sampling and downtown shopping are a must.
For return visitors, we always encourage them to go deeper into the Island. Walk or bike the trails, rent a horse and buggy or simply go horseback riding. Take the time to enjoy the water surrounding the island with a kayak tour or parasailing. Or just simply relax, read, play in the park with friends and family and enjoy the mesmerizing sound of the clip-clop of our horses working their way around town.
The best way to enjoy Mackinac Island is to spend the night so you don’t feel rushed to catch a ferry back to the mainland. When you do that, you can really enjoy our fun and spirited nightlife.
• What are the island’s tourism challenges for 2015 and beyond?
Our biggest challenge is staying top of mind with people who love to travel in Michigan. There are a lot of choices to spend your free time. Our job is to remind people to come back to Mackinac Island to re-live a memory or make new ones.
• What are your favorite things to do on the Mackinac Island?
I love to visit our library. It is well stocked and the view from its back porch is breathtaking. I enjoy a nice 8.2-mile bike ride around Mackinac Island. I also enjoy taking photos on Mackinac. It is truly difficult to take a bad picture here. Landscapes, horses, flowers and wildlife – we have it all and it doesn’t take long to find any of it.
• Any updates on the lodging front?
As your readers know, Mackinac Island does not have any chain hotels. This sets us apart. And the only reason we have this luxury is the entrepreneurial spirit of our owners. Millions of dollars are spent annually on our lodging facilities to ensure visitors have a fresh experience. Work on many of our lodging properties was underway all winter and through this spring. Our big ones, the Grand Hotel — and Mission Point Resort with its new owners — are always undergoing improvements to make their visitor experience even better.
The Grand is introducing its new Cupola Suites, featuring a king room and the parlor as a one-bedroom. They can be reserved together as a two-bedroom suite. Many of the hotels, such as the Chippewa and Lilac Tree, also have freshly painted rooms.
The tourism bureau and the convention bureau work together to bring visitors to the island and then to fill our hotel rooms. Twenty-seven hotels are members of our convention and visitors bureau. We have more than 150 members on and off the island. So be assured a lot is happening on all fronts to help keep a Mackinac Island getaway more attractive for our visitors.
• Is there one thing you’d change about visiting the island?
From a visitor’s standpoint, I wish they could stay longer and truly benefit from the entire Mackinac Island experience.
• Alright, Tim, reveal your favorite Mackinac fudge flavor?
All of them. 🙂
Murdick’s Mackinac News welcomes your ideas on how best to experience Mackinac Island. Please share them in our comment box below.
For the latest Mackinac Island Tourism information from Tim Hygh’s team, visit www.mackinacisland.org.
See you soon!
Posted March 15, 2015
JoAnn Schneider says
This will be first full year in our house in Hessel Mi. We have already made several weekend plans with family and friends to visit. And ALWAYS a trip to Mackinac Island is on the agenda. We are never disappointed and eagerly await our next visit to this wonderful island!
You’re now in Hessel? Well, that makes Mackinac Island an ideal getaway all the time! We’ll see you soon. And enjoy your new full-time home JoAnn, you lucky dog!
Ann Nolf says
The best place I have ever be to ever!!! And the fudge and candy is the best!!!!
Thanks for the nice note Ann! We love our slice of paradise. We hope to see you soon!
Janie M. Jones says
I have been to the Island many times and look forward to a visit this summer.
We’ll be waiting for your visit Janie! Please stop in to sample lots of great flavors of our original Mackinac Island fudge. Thanks for the comments!
Lisa Watson says
Would love to bring our exchange students up before they go home in June, but do not know if we will have time. 🙁
Lisa Watson says
PS It is a rough drive to do up and back in one day from GR and over nights are not in the budget.
It’s about a 200-mile one-way trip to Mackinac City from Grand Rapids. Giving yourself about an hour to park, hop on the ferry and arrive on the island plus at least two hours on the island, trying to make the trip in one day couple make for a very long day. That said, I’m sure there are plenty of West Michigan residents who have enjoyed the experience in one day.
Hi Lisa. The island officially opens May 1 so hopefully you can schedule a special weekend getaway before they leave!
We have always enjoyed visiting the Island And exploring new areas each year. We visit with the Knights of Columbus convention again this year. Always take home Murdocks Fudge for the family and friends – only the best. There was one problem last year on the night of the banquet at the Grand not a lot of carriages to take people back to hotels in town several had to walk . We will definitely make sure we reserve one to get us this year . Walking in heels that far not fun. This year we will be prepared Looking forward to the visit . Hopefully the weather will be as nice.
we go every year,too!!!