Cradled by the sparkling waters of Lake Huron in Michigan, Mackinac Island is an untapped treasure. It’s a place with a flawless blend of natural beauty, American small-town charm and carefully preserved tradition. Horses are the only vehicles allowed here (cars are banned), droves of Victorian-era homes remain intact and a restored 1800s military fort presides over the island.
Many choose to tie the knot here. I don’t blame them — romance is inescapable amongst the island’s blooming spring flowers, in the delightful downtown strip fudge shops or cruising towards a golden summer sunset on the lake. Despite staying here for a weekend by myself, I still feel like I'm on my honeymoon, albeit alone. (It isn’t nearly as sad as that sounds, I swear.)
Mission Point resort: What’s the vibe?
I check in to Mission Point, the largest family-owned resort on Mackinac Island, for my intimate post-nuptial holiday (read: solo vacay). The 18-acre property has an abundance of amenities and activities for my stay, but I'm most excited to eat. With a whopping four eateries on the resort, I'm spoiled for choice.
When I arrive, my horse-pulled taxi clops to a stop in front of a pristinely manicured row of tulips. I'm taken aback; at first, Mission Point looks more like a log cabin than a holiday resort. I glide into the newly-renovated lobby and goggle at the web of sturdy timber ascending to the roof’s apex.
Deeper inside, the space is comforting. The décor, while not exactly the most modern, has charm. There's a hallway with a long glass bookshelf, a crackling hearth and a table covered by a half-assembled jigsaw puzzle — all great places to cozy up with a stiff drink from the bar that’s just steps from the lobby.
I'm set up in one of Mission Point’s spacious Lake View King rooms. Out the window is — you guessed it — a view of Lake Huron. The room doesn't have too many bells and whistles, and I don't mind that. I instantly feel at home.
Mission Point resort: The history
Many on Mackinac Island are beginning to acknowledge the troubling history of injustices towards Indigenous people that occurred here. As a traveller enjoying the island, it’s imperative to be conscious and respectful of this history, especially as many relics of the past remain intact on the island today.
When Reverend William Ferry arrived on Mackinac Island in the early 1820s, he established a Protestant mission where the resort now stands. This is where Ferry attempted to indoctrinate Indigenous people into Christianity. To read more about the role of missionaries in injustices towards Indigenous people, click here.
The property that is now Mission Point also served a brief stint as a college and even housed a religious group for a number of years. The Ware family purchased the resort in 2014, and has since transformed it into the hotel it is today.
Mission Point resort: What’s on the menu?
Mission Point executive chef John Clements cut his teeth in the Culinary Arts program at Oakland Community College before becoming executive chef at several luxury golf and country clubs in Michigan. He creates the menus for all of Mission Point's eateries, including the fine-dining restaurant, Chianti; the casual Round Island Kitchen; to-go coffee shop and café, Boxwood; and the seasonal easy-breezy lawn spot, Bistro on the Greens.
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As Mackinac Island is largely unable to grow its own produce, Clements relies on farm-to-ferry systems to supply him with fresh ingredients on a daily basis. He coordinates with local Michigan partners to procure unique and sustainable produce delivered to his kitchen via ferry.
Clements pulls out all the stops at Mission Point’s fine-dining eatery. To the croons of a singing pianist crouched in the corner (think The White Lotus: Season 2), smartly dressed servers spin through the white-linen-clad tables, whisking around plates perched on their 90-degree wrists.
Clements clearly has confidence in his farm-to-ferry system. His dishes swivel the spotlight away from succulent proteins and instead let fresh fruit and vegetables take the lead. His epic Chianti signature caesar doesn't look much like a salad at all. Instead of loose leaves and croutons, the greens are served in a tightly wound puck, perched atop a tonnato mousse. The rich and buttery sautéed foie gras, complemented by tart pickled strawberries, is something to savour too.
Pastry chef Lukas Wiese takes the cake for the most sensational menu item at Chianti. The Apple is a white chocolate mousse-filled chocolate biscuit, with a Honeycrisp apple core. It looks exactly like the real fruit, but crumbles into a pastry with some light pressure from a fork.
Round Island Kitchen
Whether you're stopping by for eye-popping portions of buttermilk pancakes at Round Island Kitchen's breakfast service, or lounging on the patio for some post-meal tipples, you're bound to leave satisfied. Food and drink are casual and comforting, conversations are lively and laughter is louder. Order the IPA-battered whitefish sandwich with a fresh cabbage slaw for a taste of Lake Superior's bounty.
Mission Point resort: What else?
The Lakeside Spa and Salon is Mackinac Island's largest full-serve Aveda spa. It even offers a range of wedding services, from blowouts to flower girl updos, if you're planning your big day here.
Rent an adorable picnic-basket-bearing bike to explore Mackinac Island's many kilometres of lush trails, and schedule sunrise hikes or history tours through the hotel. Once you return, sprawl out on the Great Lawn, a manicured green space with a Lake Huron backdrop.
On my weekend here, it's clear Mission Point resort is the best way to experience the beauty of "Michigan's Crown Jewel," Mackinac Island.
Rooms from $400 per night; missionpoint.com