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Relaxed Luxury: Grand Traverse’s $7-Million Renovation

Situated on 900-acres of lush woodlands and hills of green, beside the blue waters of Lake Michigan and surrounded by abundant orchards and vineyards is an award-winning Michigan resort that’s taken itself to another level. After undergoing a $7-million renovation, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa has outdone itself when it comes to relaxed luxury and comfort, and as an exceptional destination for business and leisure travelers alike. 

The renovation took place in the Tower, Grand Traverse’s 17-story glass-encased tower, which features 186 guestrooms and is a landmark destination at the resort and the tallest building in all of Northern Michigan. The update brought together designs based off feedback from past guests and visitors. Feedback included suggestions for better lighting, improved technology integration and wireless internet, and more enhanced design and decor. Ryan Buck, Director of Sales, said, “We listened to our guests, including meeting guests and leisure guests, we directly incorporated their desires and really reflected their wishes in the design.” 

Originally built in 1986 by Redstone Architects, the Tower now boasts entirely updated rooms which included replacing bathroom fixtures, tile, window treatments, carpeting, and bedding. The Tower reflects a new theme of “relaxed luxury” with a palette that puts a contemporary spin on relaxed living and brings together pieces of local culture with natural elements. Gray-brown sunburst patterns of Petoskey stones of Clinch Park Beach primarily influenced the design, while rich, dark wood finishes mixed with weathered wood offer a sophisticated yet comfortable touch. A pop of blue and a little bit of sheen modernize the design, while making sure it translates to all four seasons of the resort. This new design was created by Neimann Interiors of Winter Park, Florida, while the general contractor was National Renovation Contractions from Farmington Hills, Michigan. 

“The renovation has brought us up to date and will allow us to meet or exceed our guests’ expectations while at the same time giving Northern Michigan a product that competes nationally for both corporate and association business,” General Manager, Timothy Norman said. “It also will give us a boost with the travelers or visitors we are trying to get to come to the region to experience the water, the wineries, the food, the golf, and all the other attractions that show we are just a great place to vacation. We are excited about what these rooms will allow us to target and promote for the future.”

The attention to the Tower comes after a two-year stretch of renovations of the other original 240 hotel rooms in the six-story section of the resort where $2.7 million was spent on new carpet, bedding, furniture, and flat-screen televisions. The Tower remained open while work was done floor by floor, and even as the resort celebrates the tower’s revival, Norman said he is deep into plans about what comes next.

“When you have over 900 acres and 186 tower rooms you are never done. There is always something else to be done,” he said. “We are already in the works for next year’s plans. We are in the middle of working with ownership on a five year plan so we are always revamping and looking at what’s next and we are working on next year’s budget right now, setting those goals, and deciding what areas we are going to next work on that are not guest rooms.”

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa offers 86,500 square feet of meeting space, half a dozen dining choices, including the upscale flagship Aerie Restaurant & Lounge on the tower’s 16th floor, a 100,000 square foot indoor outdoor health club, the 7,000 square foot Spa Grand Traverse with 23 treatment rooms, five indoor tennis courts, and a 15,000-square foot indoor water playground. “The ownership has demonstrated over the past 11 years that year in year out they are committed to maintaining and improving the resort,” Norman said. “They continually reinvest in the product and have committed every year with the budget to maintain a minimum level of improvements and every few years they have approved a big expenditure like the tower renovation.”

Despite the updates, the Tower will still welcome guests with its iconic glass panels and breathtaking skyline over Northern Michigan. The views from the rooms will still be as magical as if you’re in a hot air balloon. What the renovation hopes to achieve, with its modern touches and new, contemporary and inviting decor, is a place that you can easily call home.