Summer Escape

The Hotel Iroquois (Mackinac Series, part 2)

In 2019, Travel + Leisure named the Hotel Iroquois one of the Top 5 Resort Hotels in the Midwest.

Families who owned and loved the Hotel Iroquois preserved its history for 117-years. The McIntire family built the intimate boutique hotel into an authentic part of the Mackinac experience for many of those past years. Initially, the structure was a house built in 1902 by the Benjamins, blacksmiths on the island. When the Pooles purchased it in1904, they used the original foundation to construct a hotel. Fifty years later, they sold the hotel to the McIntires – and that’s where the story begins. 

Alicia Poole and Margaret McIntire (the matriarch of the McIntire family, now 95-years-old and still active in the business) knew each other, and their relationship grew during visits to the hotel. When the Poole's decided to sell, they intended to "hand it down" to another family who loved it as much as they did. The McIntire's were their first choice. 

As Margaret McIntire prepares to retire, history repeats itself as the Iroquois is "handed down" to another family who will honor its traditions. Jon Cotton, a Grosse Pointe resident who stayed frequently at the hotel, purchased the Iroquois in 2020. Jon, 38, was president and chief operating officer of the state's largest Medicaid provider, Meridian Health, which sold in 2018.

"I am committed to honoring the stewardship and legacy that Sam and Margaret McIntire gave to this hotel for the last 66 years," Jon said in a Free Press article.

Margaret McIntire's grandson, Sam Barnwell, the hotel's general manager, said, "It was the perfect time for my family to pass along ownership of the Iroquois to another family. We've wondered about leaving this treasure to a new owner who would treat it well. When Jon Cotton spoke up, we knew we found that person."

The McIntire's expanded the Iroquois by consistently putting their profits back into the hotel, and Jon is poised to do the same. Sam explained, “My family grew the hotel from 14 bedrooms to 45 bedrooms and suites and added the Carriage House Restaurant. My grandmother put quality and attention to detail into the Iroquois that made lasting memories for guests. With Jon’s stewardship, the hotel is investing in improvements we haven’t been able to do before. The first plan is to extend the waterfront into the lake about 140-feet by building a dock.” 

Hotel Iroquois embodies the romance that people come to find on Mackinac Island. The 130-feet of frontage on Lake Huron lures our guests to take lunch or dinner al fresco along the shore. The outdoor eating space is as large as the indoor space. Views from inside the glassed Carriage House Restaurant is equally captivating. Sam added, “Some guests love the restaurant so much that they try to duplicate the dining room in their own homes. When they ask about the design style, I tell them we call it 'Northern Michigan Lakeside.'"

Conde Nast Traveler Magazine awarded Hotel Iroquois a perfect 100 location 

points for its beautiful waterfront setting.

The McIntire's regard for the fine points and their renowned sense of beauty carries through every aspect of the hotel, restaurant, and, of course, the gardens filled with exclusive annuals, perennials, and shrubs of vibrant color. 

Each of the 45 rooms has similar but distinct decor and often diverse room layouts with custom furniture. All accommodations have either king or queen beds. Premium amenities like Forette pillow mist and luxurious Matouk towels, bed linens, and robes are standard fare in every room. Even the bathrooms are provisioned with premium amenities like lavender lime moisturizer and soap by Lather. The rooms are made up and refreshed twice a day when guests are away. 

The suites truly enhance the charm of the Iroquois. The magnificent view from the multi-room lighthouse suite on the fourth floor showcases the Round Island Light, which is the lighthouse filmed in the movie "Somewhere in Time." There's a second lighthouse in the Straits also visible from the suite that has fooled sailors into finishing the Bayview to Mackinac race at the wrong lighthouse. This year the 2021 race departs from Detroit on July 24th, with the winners arriving at Mackinac on the 25th or later. 

Chef Greg Murphy of the Carriage House Restaurant prepares classic American menus that introduce the region's freshest, locally sourced ingredients, like lake trout and Michigan whitefish. One of the favorite Carriage House meals island-wide is the center-cut filet mignon. Dinner is accompanied by live piano music every evening. Recognized as the island for the making and eating of delectable fudge, the Iroquois makes homemade fudge sauce to top ice cream and cakes for dessert.

A stay at the Hotel Iroquois includes a complimentary breakfast that’s not easy to forget. Homemade lemon blueberry muffins and pastries are among the delights served each morning. 

"During the covid quarantine, places on the island were still open, including the Hotel Iroquois,” Sam said. “We made it through the year with no covid cases in our staff. We’ve also maintained all of our staff during the transition; they play a large part in what makes our service award-winning." 

According to Sam, this summer is booking up fast, and scheduling has begun for the 2022 season. One of Sam’s tips is that the best time to visit the Iroquois is late August and September to enjoy the stunning autumn colors. 

Part of the enchantment of the island is that cars are not allowed in this four-square-mile space. The best way to explore the island is by walking, bicycling, or riding in horse-drawn carriages. The concierge at the hotel Iroquois can arrange horseback riding, private carriage tours, and other activities.

Another uniqueness that many people don’t realize is that 82% of Mackinac Island is a state park, and it’s the first state park in the U.S. Exploring the hiking trails is an exciting way to see all of the island and experience new adventures.

Forty-five rooms await you, each different from the other, where you can view the lake and surroundings or take a walk into the hustle and bustle of Main Street attractions and shopping. If you haven’t been to the Hotel Iroquois, it's a step into the past and breathtakingly romantic.

Hotel Iroquois, 7485 Main Street Mackinac Island, Michigan 49757, 906.847.3321, iroquoishotel.com

boxes for layout in 3 squares per the recipe

Pooles 1904         McIntires 1954         Cotton 2020 

14 rooms       45 rooms, suites dock and room

                      and a restaurant   renovations

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