Grand Traverse Resort and Spa: The Best Place for a Fall Getaway in Northern Michigan


This post is written in partnership with Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. All opinions are my own.

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone and the holidays are right around the corner, it’s time for me to reflect on all of the fun that I’ve had this past fall. In my opinion there’s nothing more beautiful than seeing the leaves change colors each fall in Michigan. It’s one of my favorite parts of being a Michigander. I’m so lucky to live in a state that experiences all four seasons. The Mitten State has warm summers, crisp falls, cold winters and mild springs, so there are plenty of things to look forward as each season changes.

I’ve had a very fun and busy fall, but the highlight of it was my recent trip to Traverse City, MI (one of my favorite cities). Back in mid-October, I was invited to Traverse City to participate in an event called the 2018 Women Writers Weekend. The event, which was hosted by Grand Traverse Resort and Spa along with Traverse City Tourism, brought together top travel writers and bloggers from the Midwest to experience the charm of Traverse City and all the amenities that Grand Traverse Resort and Spa has to offer.

In today’s blog post I’ll be highlighting all the things you can take advantage of when you book a stay at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. This hotel is a true gem of the north and it’s perfect for anyone looking for a week-long retreat or just a quick weekend getaway. Aside from telling you all about the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, I’ll also be sharing a list of all the things you can discover when you visit Traverse City, the cherry capital of the world.

For starters, I’m going to give you some background on Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, including details on where it’s located and when it was founded:

About Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is “Michigan’s Premier Resort Experience” and one of the Midwest’s finest year-round destination and conference resorts. The Resort opened in 1980 and has nearly 600 rooms, suites and condominiums. The hotel has 86,500 square-feet of versatile, dedicated meeting space, distinctive dining venues, shopping complex, full-service spa, and championship golf courses which makes for a perfect combination of amenities for four full seasons of non-stop fun (or just some R&R).

The 900-acre Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is situated in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula along the shores of Lake Michigan’s East Grand Traverse Bay. Just six miles northeast of Traverse City, Michigan, the Resort is a ten-minute drive from Traverse City’s Cherry Capital Airport (TVC).

The Resort is owned by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians who acquired it back on March 31, 2003. In addition to Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, the Tribe also owns and operates Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge in Peshawbestown and Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel in Williamsburg, each with restaurants and lounges, a conference center, and a convenience store.

Guest Rooms and Suites

When I stayed at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa this October, my room was located on the fourth floor of the Tower. This portion of the hotel has 17 stories, 186 rooms and suites and opened in 1986. After walking down the hallway and making it to my room, I held my key card up to the door. As soon as the light turned green and the door unlocked, I made my way inside. I couldn’t believe how spacious and grand my suite was. It was the definition of luxury! It seemed like the amenities were endless and I absolutely loved the windows that wrapped around the entire room. I’ve never stayed at a hotel designed to let so much natural light in. As I walked around my room I couldn’t help but check out all of it’s amazing features. If you book a stay in a king size suite at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, your room will include:

  • King size bed

  • Lounge chair with a C-shaped table

  • HD TV with plenty of channels and entertainment

  • A sliding glass door that led out to a balcony overlooking the parking lot and Grand Traverse Resort and Spa grounds

  • A small wet bar area with a mini fridge, coffee maker and sink

  • A bathroom with a vanity to get ready at, a huge walk-in shower, lighted makeup mirror, premium bath products, a hair dryer and a heat lamp

  • WiFi


One thing that I wanted to point out was the assortment of pillows provided on the bed. Some hotels have pillows that are rock hard, while others have pillows that are super soft. Grand Traverse Resort and Spa offers a variety of pillows and they place them all on the bed so you can choose which one is most comfortable for you. Aside from all of the pillows (pillow fight, anyone?) turn down service is provided in each room at night.

Resort Amenities

As you can probably tell from everything I mentioned above, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa provides a lot of great in-room amenities, but the real fun starts when you explore the hotel and see what other perks are available to guests. The Resort offers a licensed daycare (I learned during my stay that Grand Traverse Resort and Spa offers in-room babysitting service, which is a great way for parents to squeeze in a date night while staying at the hotel), organized children’s activities, an electronic game arcade and fitness classes. If you’re flying in to Traverse City at Cherry Capital Airport, the Resort can set up airport shuttle service for you along with baggage handling.


If you’re a golfer, you’ll love the courses at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. The Resort has three distinguished 18-hole championship courses called The Bear, The Wolverine and Spruce Run. In the Clubhouse, you’ll find a Pro Shop and The Grille restaurant and bar.

The Bear

  • Jack Nicklaus signature course is a distinguished par-72 design. It officially opened on June 17, 1985. It was the first Jack Nicklaus signature course in Michigan and was home to the Michigan Open from 1985 through 2008.

The Wolverine

  • This Gary Player par-72 signature course officially opened on June 8, 1999. It is designed to accommodate players of all levels. It is Player’s first signature course in the state and hosted preliminary rounds of the Michigan Open.

Spruce Run

  • The Resort’s original course redesigned by William Newcomb in 1979. Many changes have been made to Spruce Run through the years. Today it is an 18-hole, par-70, championship course winding along the gently rolling hills overlooking East Grand Traverse Bay. The Michigan Open was played on Spruce Run—then known as The Resort course—from 1981 through 1984.

Recreational Activities

There’s no shortage of activities around Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. The hotel has plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to keep you and your family busy all year around. In the summer, tennis players can get a game in on one of the Resort’s four outdoor courts near the Health Club, while those who love water sports can spend a day using Jet Skis, pedal boats and kayaks at the Beach Club located at The Shores Condominiums out on East Grand Traverse Bay. In the winter, you can discover up to two kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trailers, snowshoeing and ice skating.

Spa Grand Traverse

If you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind, Spa Grand Traverse is the place to do it. It’s a full-service 7,000-square foot spa and salon that offers a variety of services including massages as well as body care and skin care treatments. During my visit to Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, I had a relaxation massage at Spa Grand Traverse and it was heavenly. I’ve only had a few massages in my life, but my experience at Spa Grand Traverse was definitely the most luxurious.

After checking in for my afternoon appointment, I was handed sandals and a plush robe. I made my way into the locker room and placed my belongings into a locker which was secured with a four-digit code. As soon as I slipped into the robe, I felt ready to be pampered. I walked out to a waiting area and after a few minutes, my name was called and my massage therapist, Kate, directed me to the room that we’d be in. Kate started off the massage with some aromatherapy which put me into full relaxation mode. In total, my massage lasted for 60 minutes. At the end of it, I was so relaxed that I didn’t want to get up. I could tell that all of the stress that I was carrying completely melted away. My experience made me wonder why I don’t treat myself to massages more often. Guess that just means that I’ll have to make more trips up to Grand Traverse Resort and Spa so I can treat myself at Spa Grand Traverse.

Health Club

The Health Club at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa has every amenity a guest could ever want or need. While staying at the hotel, you can work on your tennis game or work up a sweat in the cardio-fitness studio or the aerobics/yoga studio. A full list of amenities is below for you to check out:

  • Spa Grand Traverse

  • Indoor water playground

  • Arcade

  • Mens and womens' pre-shower and shower rooms

  • Two indoor pools

  • Two indoor hot tubs / Two outdoor hot tubs

  • Cafe and Lounge

  • Five indoor tennis courts / Four outdoor courts

  • Cardio-fitness studio

  • Aerobics / Yoga studio

  • Weight room

  • 2,000 square-foot child care center

After staying at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa and seeing all of their amazing facilities, I can see why people choose this hotel versus any of the other options in the area. No matter who you’re spending your stay with - your significant other, family or friends - there’s something for everyone. Kids absolutely love the indoor water playground and arcade, while adults enjoy the various fitness facilities and the spa.

Restaurants and Dining

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa offers a variety of dining options and the hotel has a handful of different restaurants to help satisfy any craving you might have. No matter if your appetite is big or small, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa has several places to eat or drink. While I stayed at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, I had the opportunity to dine at a few of the restaurants on the property and each meal I had was delightful. You definitely won’t go hungry when you stay at this hotel. It’s a perfect place for foodies and those that have a taste for everything from casual to upscale dining.

The Grille

Located inside the resort’s Clubhouse and overlooking the 18th hole of the Bear golf course, The Grille Restaurant is a great place to grab lunch or dinner. With options to dine inside or outside, you can pull a chair up to a table and settle in for a great meal. While I stayed at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, I was able to grab a bite to eat with the fellow Women Writers Weekend attendees at The Grille. I decided to order chicken noodle soup and a salad. Everything I had was delicious! The soup warmed me up, especially because I visited the hotel during a cold and rainy day. As far as the salad goes, everything was freshly prepared and tasted great.

Aerie restaurant and lounge

During the last night of my stay at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, I had the opportunity to dine at Aerie. Aerie is probably one of the most unique restaurants that I’ve ever had a meal in. It’s located on the top floor of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa and it provides jaw-dropping views of Grand Traverse Bay. In the fall, the view is simply stunning thanks to all of the fall foliage on the hotel’s property. You can also get a glimpse of the golf courses.

Diners can enjoy Sunday brunch, happy hour or dinner with an amazing view when they visit Aerie. This northern Michigan hot spot has been serving up flavorful dishes and mouthwatering drinks for 10 years and continues to be a favorite dining destination for families, friends and foodies.

When I ate dinner at Aerie, I order the filet mignon. It was absolutely delicious - so tender and perfectly cooked. In addition to the filet, my plate included potato au gratin and some steamed veggies. For dessert, I had a sorbet flight which was such a tasty and refreshing way to round out the meal.

Sweetwater American Bistro

A great place to grab breakfast at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is Sweetwater American Bistro. This restaurant is right near the main lobby of the hotel and has a menu filled with a variety of options. If you don’t want to visit for breakfast, you can stop in for lunch or dinner, too. Sweetwater American Bistro serves up favorites like soups, salads and sandwiches. For dinner, you can find dishes like pan-roasted chicken and salmon. If you want to eat at a restaurant with a more casual feel, Sweetwater American Bistro is a great choice!

Jack’s Sports Bar and the Grand Lobby Bar

Anyone that’s in the mood to grab a drink or watch a sports game while staying at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa can visit Jack’s Sports Bar or the Grand Lobby Bar. Jack’s Sports Bar has a ton of seating and four flat screen TVs that are tuned in to the latest sporting events. You’ll find a full-service bar and delicious appetizers or main meals like burgers, sandwiches and thin crust pizza at this restaurant. If you just want to grab a quick drink, visit the Grand Lobby Bar. You can choose from bottled beer, wine and different types of spirits at this bar located right across from the check in desk.

A Few Ideas on Things to Do and See in Traverse City

Now that you know all about the best place to stay when visiting Traverse City, I want to give you some background on this great northern Michigan town and why it should be next on your list of must-visit vacation destinations.

Wine Tour and Dinner at Chateau Chantal

One of the most unique parts about Traverse City is Old Mission Peninsula. This peninsula is home to about 40 different wineries, including one owned by HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse and his wife, Amy Smart. Our group made our way to Chateau Chantal, a well-known winery that offers wine tasting and wine dinners in addition to having a bed and breakfast on site.

At Chateau Chantal, you can enjoy wine tasting, a winery tour or you can even eat dinner there. When I did a tour of the winery during my recent stay at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, it was amazing to see everything that it takes to make wine. I even saw some wine that was going through the fermentation process.

Visit the various Lighthouses in/around traverse city

Traverse City is surrounded by a lot of water, so there are plenty of lighthouses to check out when you visit. One of the most popular lighthouses is Mission Point Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in 1870 and it was used to warn ships away from the dangerous shoals extending into Grand Traverse Bay at the tip of the Old Mission Peninsula in Lighthouse Park. 

If you want to see all of the lighthouses that are in/around Traverse City, you can click here to check them out.

hike at the sleeping bear dunes

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the most unique places in all of Michigan. Huge sand dunes tower above Lake Michigan providing stunning views of the water down below. You can hike on various trails or check out the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. Whenever my family and I visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes, we always make our way to the Dune Climb. I have fond memories of running up and down the dunes as a kid. It’s so rewarding when you make it all the way to the top and it’s even more fun to coast slowly on the soft sand as you make your way back down to the bottom.

There are tons of beaches around the Sleeping Bear Dunes, so it’s a must-visit spot during the summer months. In the winter months, the Dunes are more quiet, but that just means that you’ll have more of this beautiful Michigan landmark to yourself!

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Take a walk downtown

Traverse City has a great little downtown area that is home to several stores and restaurants. My personal favorite spots to visit each time I’m in Traverse City are Cherry Republic and Backcountry North. Cherry Republic has several different products that include cherries – candy, jellies and jams, salsas and more - which is fitting for Traverse City since it’s the cherry capital of the world. Backcountry North has all kinds of outdoor gear perfect for all of the four seasons that you can experience in Michigan, especially in Traverse City.

Ready to spend a weekend in Traverse City? CLICK HERE to book a stay at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa! It’s a perfect place to kick back, relax and enjoy everything that northern Michigan has to offer!

For more information on Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, visit their website here or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

For more information on Traverse City Tourism, visit their website here or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Have you ever visited northern Michigan? I’d love to know if it’s on your lists of “places to travel,” so leave me a comment below and let me know!