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Romantic 19th Century Hotels

Few Victorian hotels have retained their romance and beauty while commanding admiration like California’s Del Coronado Hotel, Michigan’s Mackinac Island Grand and Georgia’s Jekyll Island Club Hotel, each relatively similar, each unique.

Located on the western edge of San Diego Bay, the Del Coronado is a Coronado Island landmark whose charming grounds cover more than 30-acres of beautiful oceanfront property. And, beginning this month look for a giant gold ribbon tied around the hotel’s signature red turret in celebration of its 125th anniversary!

Built in 1888, the hotel is a Victorian era castle. When built, the Del Coronado was the largest building in America outside New York City to be electrically lighted. Thomas Edison himself arrived to take charge of the introduction of his incandescent lamp creation.

Called “The Del” by locals, the hotel has a rich history, hosting presidents, princes and Hollywood legends. Author L. Frank Baum called “The Del” home while writing “The Wizard of Oz,” basing his Emerald City designs on the hotel.

The Del Coronado Hotel is often used as a backdrop for movie and television productions. Though the movie was shot on Michigan’s Mackinac Island, many that have read the book, say “The Del” was the inspiration for the classic romantic movie “Somewhere in Time” starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour,.

Mackinac Island is branded “America’s summer place,” but it is Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, built in 1887, that truly lives up to “Grand.” If the Del Coronado is a Victorian era castle, the Grand Hotel is a Victorian era palace. Taking just four months to build, it has weathered the seasons for more than 125-years.

The 385-room Grand holds claim to the world’s longest veranda. At 660-feet long, the porch stretches the full length of the building and through the summer pre-dinner cocktails are served on the porch. Indeed this hotel is grand in every way. Even its location, high above the rest of Mackinac Island affords a grand view.

Upon arrival to Mackinac Island by ferry, visitors become wrapped in a different time and place. Because motorized vehicles are forbidden, horse drawn carriages wait for passengers as they disembark. The clip clop of horses prevails. Like the Del Coronado, the Grand Hotel too has been visited by Presidents and world-renowned entertainers.

The hotel received cinematic fame when the 1980 film “Somewhere in Time,” was shot on location here. Though in the movie, Christopher Reeve arrived behind the wheel of a sporty automobile, this owing to Hollywood scripting. “Somewhere in Time” is regarded by many as a romantic cult classic.

Unlike Mackinac Island motor vehicles are permitted on Jekyll Island, but the island is abundant with unspoiled natural wonders that include beautiful oak trees draped in Spanish moss.

While the Victorian-style club hotel, built in 1888, offers plenty of charm, exploring out of doors offers the pleasure of both beach and the maritime forest. The island’s beaches and forest are protected from widespread expansion by the state of Georgia.

Jekyll Island was first developed in the late 1800’s by America’s uppermost millionaires who wanted a place of their own for winter seclusion. During World War II, the island was closed by the Federal Government for safety reasons. After the War descendents of the first millionaire families were no longer interested in returning.

In recent times, the club has been restored to its previous stylishness showcasing leaded art glass windows and ornate woodwork. Neither a palace, nor a castle, it is the lovely turret that is famed here. Victorian appeal dominates the public areas of the Jekyll Island Hotel Club, a place once reserved for only America’s topmost wealthy.

Don’t let any of these 19th-century hotels give the impression that they are antiquated. Leisurely pace of the past merges and meets with all the amenities of the present to make a visit to anyone of these hotels memorable, whether staying over-night or simply dining, visitors are assured exceptional accommodations. For the romantic minded, staying at one of these hotels is like living a fairy tale.

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