I've been dreaming of playing Northern Michigan for years. I finally made it and for my delay I deserve a solid plunk in the head with a nine-iron. Wow! What a great destination to play golf.
A wonderland of Lake Michigan views, superbly designed golf courses, quaint lakeside villages and wonderfully prepared Midwestern cuisine, Michigan has all of these things and a lot more. The relatively short golf season runs from April to October. After that, it's time to break out the ski poles and snowboards.
One of the highlights of my visit was staying and playing at the Inn at Bay Harbor, one of America's treasured, classically styled, luxury hotels.
Situated on the Lake Michigan shoreline, the stunning, Victorian-style hotel oozes with timeless charm, yet pampers its guests with a wealth of desired upscale amenities. The Inn at Bay Harbor is part of the prestigious Marriott International's Autograph Collection Hotels, a portfolio of independent hotels recognized for celebrating individuality.
If you're looking for the quintessential Lake Michigan vacation experience, the Inn at Bay Harbor is a Guru approved.
I'm a devoted Arthur Hills design fan so I was excited to tee up at Bay Harbor Golf Club, one of his high-profile designs. While some get carried away with hyperbole, I can't disagree with those writers who refer to the course as "the Pebble Beach of the Midwest".
You're treated to three distinct nines at the 27-hole complex. The Links weaves alongside Lake Michigan and has the feel and look of a great Irish seaside course. The Quarry winds through a shale quarry with 40-foot rock walls, ponds and a waterfall. The Preserve is cut through a hardwood forest with wildflowers and wetlands.
Hills did a masterful job of enhancing the existing terrain and features to create truly inspiring golf that'll have you talking about your round months and perhaps years after playing Bay Harbor. Quite honestly, if I had focused on my game instead of taking so many pictures with my iPhone I might have scored a little better. Some of the holes on the Links and Quarry are among the most photogenic you'll find in the U.S.
My most memorable shots at Bay Harbor came on elevated tees with Lake Michigan in the foreground. I got the same feeling of awe and inspiration I've received at oceanside gems like the Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island and Kingsbarns in Scotland.
Guests can also play the Crooked Tree Golf Club located nearby. Set on bluffs above Bay Harbor, the course highlights include fairways lined by centuries-old hardwood trees, panoramas of Little Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan and innovative bunkering.
A variety of options are available. A standard 440 square-foot guest room has two queen beds, a balcony and in-room coffee maker.
The Master Suite is 770 square feet with a fireplace and kitchenette.
For those traveling with multiple family members or for buddy golf trips, the additional suite selections include: The Grand (880 square feet/3 beds), The Quarry (950 square feet/3 beds), The Specialty (1,200 square feet/3 beds), The Tower (2,000 square feet/4 beds) and The Penthouse (3,000 square feet/5 beds).
10 Little Things I Liked
1. The complimentary crisp, luscious apples available in the lobby.
2. The fire pit and chairs just a few feet from Lake Michigan directly behind the Inn.
3. The amazing Schonbek chandelier in the lobby with 34,000 gem-cut crystals and nearly 2,000 lights.
4. The delicious Horny Monk craft beer by Petoskey Brewery that I had at the Vintage Chophouse/Bar.
5. The perfectly prepared N.Y. Strip steak and to-die-for Mac & Cheese Gratin I had at Vintage Chophouse.
6. The life-size chess board near the pool.
7. The stunning lake views and bountiful breakfast buffet at the Sagamore Room.
8. The plush bedding with multiple pillows in my guest room.
9. The friendly and accommodating staff exuding great Midwestern hospitality.
10. The walk on the beach located directly behind the Inn.
Vintage Chophouse/Wine Bar--A classic American steakhouse with rich wood appointments, leather chairs, superb wine list and a good selection of craft beers. Dinner menu highlights include Seafood Linguini, Cowboy Ribeye with Smoked Blue Cheese Au Gratin and Herbed Free Range Chicken.
The Sagamore Room--If you think the views on the golf course are great, wait'll you have breakfast at the Sagamore. Expansive windows afford spectacular views of Lake Michigan while you enjoy an impressive breakfast buffet.
Inn Cafe--Great little spot for a cup of coffee, cappuccino, espresso or ice cream and light snacks.
Cabana Bar--Magnificent views of Lake Michigan, casual dining fare, tropical drinks and daily Happy Hour specials are the draw here.
THINGS TO DO
--Boutique shopping and dining at Village at Bay Harbor adjacent to the Inn.
--A variety of spa services available at the Inn's full-service spa and salon.
--Shopping, dining and sightseeing in historic Petoskey.
--Biking on paths alongside Lake Michigan.
--Swimming in the outdoor pool.
--Enjoying a glass of wine or making S'Mores at the fire pit.
--Sunset watching from the shoreline just a few steps away from the Inn.
--Wine tours at nearby wineries.
--Lake fishing and fly fishing at nearby streams.
--Resort activities such as croquet, bocce ball and a life-size chess board.
Situated just off Highway 31 about 4 miles from downtown Petoskey, Michigan.
GET THE SCOOP
For more information, call 855-688-7023 or click to Inn at Bay Harbor. Address: 3600 Village Harbor Drive, Bay Harbor, Michigan 49770-8577