There’s Still Time for a Spring “True Escape” to Traverse City!
Spring is a gorgeous time in Traverse City, with millions of cherry trees in bloom! It’s a great time to enjoy shopping, dining, walking and wine tasting… or just hanging out with friends in front of a roaring fire. And for a few more weeks visitors can enjoy all of that fun for less. From now until May 13, the Traverse City True Escape Package combines special rates on lodging with a wide assortment of discounts and money-saving offers on everything from dining, movies and spa services to wine purchases and entertainment! For more information go to http://www.traversecity.com/tc-escape-package-491/
Traverse City Links Up with “Trail-Blazing” Mapmakers
Traverse City Tourism has linked up with MichiganTrailMaps.com to produce high-quality trail maps for hikers, cyclists and other visitors who want to explore the area’s many forested pathways. The company produces detailed maps complete with GIS coordinates, satellite imagery, topographical data and on-the-scene field research giving travelers information about what they’ll encounter along the way. It has begun to research, map and post online the major trails in the Traverse City area. Traverse City Tourism, in turn, posts the maps on its own website and distributes printed versions at its Visitor Center – which will open a new brochure section dedicated to trail maps on April 1.
Smoke and Porter, described as “a new American smokehouse where farm to table meets the firepit,” is scheduled to open in late May in Traverse City’s East Bay resort strip. Henry and Mindy Bisson, veterans of two top-drawer Antrim County restaurants — Lulu’s in Bellaire and Siren Hall in Elk Rapids – have designed the new restaurant’s menu, incorporating everything from house-smoked pastrami to salads featuring smoked fish. Smoke and Porter will feature a 12-seat bar with eight microbrew taps (and also will serve wine and liquor), a lounge area and a dining area with total seating of approximately 100.
Chuck Korson has opened the BLK MRKT café in late January in the newly renovated Warehouse MRKT on Hall Street. The cafe features coffee, tea and beverage services, in-house baked goods, and an expanded food menu, and will operate seven days a week from 7 am to 3 pm. Next door, the building’s owners — Dan and Meridith Falconer — have opened Wood + Cloth, a shop featuring home furnishings, clothing, gifts and specialty edibles.
After years of preparation Traverse City tobacconist Mike Nolan has opened Nolan’s Cigar Bar, northern Michigan’s first cigar bar, where cigar aficionados can smoke while enjoying a cocktail, beer or wine. (Under Michigan law, cigar bars, privately-owned casinos and tobacco stores can allow cigar smoking if they have the proper exemptions.) The bar, which has a seating capacity of 65, features a state-of-the-art smoke removal system, exchanging air in the building fast enough to keep the environment friendly for cigar smokers and non-smokers alike.
A new breakfast spot, The Remedy, has opened in Traverse City’s Warehouse District as an adjunct to The Workshop Brewing Company, which occupies the same building. The new eatery features “scratch-made breakfasts, grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches, house-cured meats, daily chef specials and Bloody Beers and beer mimosas” featuring Workshop brews. At night, the space will double as an event venue.
The Traverse City Whiskey Company is finally open in Traverse City. Owner Chris Fredrickson has opened a 2,200 square-foot distillery, tasting room and retail store at the corner of Fourteenth and Cass streets, offering tastings and sales of the company’s products, along with a cocktail menu and occasional special events.
Meanwhile two downtown restaurants have closed and reopened under new names. The former Union Cantina on Union Street is now Union Tap & Grill, with a new American menu similar to those of owner Matt Davies’ other restaurants (Peninsula Grill, Bad Dog Deli, Riverwalk Grill and Western Avenue Grille), featuring fish, steaks, burgers, flatbreads and 14 beers on draft. The former Cherry Cone ice cream shop on Front Street is being rebranded as the Milk & Honey Cafe and Ice Creamery, now offering high-end deli sandwiches and housemade food products (including chocolates and honey), in addition to the original coffee bar and non-GMO ice cream.
Expansions and Improvements
A $7 million interior renovation of the iconic landmark tower at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is underway, and the design elements of the 186 rooms involved were greatly influenced by resort guests. The project, which started Feb. 9 and planned for completion by May 31, impacts 16 floors, including hospitality parlors. The renovation work is being completed in as minimally invasive a way as possible for current guests of the 900-acre resort, which includes three championship golf courses, indoor and outdoor tennis, a 100,000-square foot health club, full service spa, diverse and elegant dining options, unique shopping experiences, and 86,000 square feet of meeting space.
The Best Western Four Seasons of Traverse City is scheduled to reopen in May after an extensive winter renovation. Guest rooms in the hotel now have new bathrooms with Kohler fixtures, new heating/cooling units and larger windows. The motel has added a fitness center, business center, guest laundry and elevator, and has replaced its green-shingle roofline with a more modern exterior style. The motel will expand its twelve signature loft rooms with extended second-floor ceilings and windows facing Front Street.
By the second week of April, fifteen of the Cherry Tree Inn’s studios and suites will be completely revamped. These rooms now feature new carpet, paint, quartz countertops, new tile bathrooms with glass accents, and double bathroom sinks with a fully-lit vanity mirror with TV that appears through the glass when turned on. Two suites have also added heated air tubs for those looking for more R&R to their stay.
Spanglish, the popular but tiny eatery at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, has doubled its seating area with a midwinter renovation that includes several repurposed church pews and a table from Joe Buteyn Design. The Traverse City Cherry Republic store is nearing the end of a major renovation that is tripling its size and remaking it into a “second flagship store” like the original in Glen Arbor, with a redesigned entrance, more retail space, a larger tasting room and an on-premises bakery and cafe. A full opening is slated for May 20.
Marie-Chantal Dalese, 36, former marketing director (and namesake) of the Chateau Chantal Winery B&B, has been named CEO of the firm, taking over from ten-year veteran Jim Krupka. Dalese, who grew up at the winery, earned an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Management from DePaul University, a Graduate Diploma in Wine Business from the University of Adelaide, Australia, and worked for five years in the Chicago wine trade before becoming marketing director at Chateau Chantal in 2009.
Melissa Bonham has been named general manager at the Bayshore Resort. She has been with the resort for the past four years, most recently as Sales Manager. She is succeeded in that job by Lauren Griggs, a Traverse City native who recently moved back to the area from Detroit.
Van Dommelen, Pritchard receive “Star of the Industry” Awards
Brad Van Dommelen, president/CEO of Traverse City Tourism, and Marc Pritchard, executive chef at the Park Place Hotel, were named “Stars of the Industry” by the Michigan Lodging & Tourism Association. The awards were presented at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism on March 23.
Van Dommelen was named “CVB Director Star of the Year” for his role in developing Traverse City as a top tourism destination during the past decade. “He has not merely played an integral role in building the tourism business in Traverse City; through direct personal action, he has also helped increase awareness of the entire State of Michigan, both domestically and internationally,” read his award.
Pritchard was named “Culinary Star of the Year.” Born in Great Britain, he was classically trained at the Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies and has worked in the US for the past 18 years – almost all of it at the Park Place. “In a town that has developed a reputation as a ‘foodie’ destination, Marc has quietly developed a reputation as a consistently creative chef with a passion for food, presentation and attention to detail,” read the award.
Other Awards and Recognitions
The Legend at Shanty Creek, which was named Golf Course of the Year in 2014 by the Michigan Golf Course Owners’ Association, has also won that honor again for 2015. The Legend was also one of four courses nominated for the National Golf Course Owner’s Association’s 2015 national Course of the Year award. Given annually since 2003, the award recognizes facilities that excel in four categories: course quality, quality of ownership and management, contributions to the community and contributions to the game. In addition, Golf Magazine ranked The Legend and another Shanty Creek course, Cedar River, among the state’s Top 20 Public Courses.
Goodbye, Horse Shows by the Bay… Hello, Great Lakes Equestrian Festival
An all-new hunter and jumper horse event, the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, will take over the four-week summer slot at Flintfields Horse Park that had been filled by the popular Horse Shows by the Bay Equestrian Festival. The new festival will open July 1 and continue until July 26. Plans are underway for additional improvements to Flintfields, located in Williamsburg, about ten miles east of Traverse City.
Founded in 2004, Horse Shows by the Bay was the first major equestrian event held in Traverse City, attracting thousands of the nation’s best horses and riders.
Weird Al Yankovic to headline 2015 Cherry Festival
America’s biggest-selling comedy recording artist — “Weird Al” Yankovic, who has sold over 12 million albums and earned four Grammys, including the 2015 Grammy for Best Comedy Album – will appear at this year’s National Cherry Festival on Sunday, July 5.
Traverse City celebrates its heritage as America’s Cherry Capital during the first full week of July with an eight-day party featuring over 150 family activities: air shows, fireworks, parades (including the nation’s largest all-children parade) games, races, midway rides, demonstrations, nightly outdoor concerts and lots of chances to taste delicious cherry products. The Cherry Festival is Traverse City’s signature event, drawing as many as 500,000 attendees from around the country. Everything is located conveniently within walking distance, and since almost all the events are free, it offers more than a week of affordable family fun.
Other Upcoming Events:
April 17-18 –Traverse City Trail Running Festival
Runners of all abilities will hit the trails of the Pere Marquette State Forest for this event, which starts and finishes at Timber Ridge Resort. Races include a two-person 10K relay race on Friday and individual 10K, 25K and 50K races on Saturday. www.enduranceevolution.com
April 26 – Traverse City Chocolate Festival
A celebration of all things chocolate from the region’s chefs and chocolatiers, with tastings and samples of local chocolates and confectionery treats, demonstrations and mini-lectures, live music, and a silent auction for chocolate sculptures. www.cityoperahouse.org (231) 941‐8082
May 1 — Downtown Art Walk
Art, wine, food and music in downtown TC! Everything from sculpture and oil paintings to glass and watercolor. Prize Drawings at participating stores. Walking maps are available at participating galleries and the Downtown Traverse City office. www.downtowntc.com (231) 922-2050
May 2-3 –Spring Sip & Savor
An opportunity to visit each of the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail wineries for a wine and food pairing selected especially by the winemaker. Each winemaker will be present during the event to talk about the wine and food and answer questions. www.lpwines.com
May 15-16 — Empire Asparagus Festival
The lakeshore village of Empire greets the arrival of asparagus season with games, dinners and – of all things – an annual oral poetry contest for the best “Ode to Asparagus.” www.empirechamber.com (231) 326-6081
May 16 — Old Mission Blossom Day
Old Mission Peninsula winemakers invite you to their tasting rooms to give you a sample of unreleased wines! Barrel and Reserve wines are showcased in addition to each winery’s standard tasting list. www.wineriesofoldmission.com (800) 969-4009
May 23 – 33rd Annual Bayshore Marathon
An annual spring run up the Old Mission Peninsula – one of the world’s most beautiful marathon settings – that attracts more than 3,000 runners. Half-marathon and 10k runs are also offered.
May 23 –Antrim County Petoskey Stone Festival
Celebrate Michigan’s state stone with a day of stone-hunting, stone-skipping, demonstrations, prizes, and other fun at Barnes Park near Eastport.
www.petoskeystonefestival.com (231) 533-8363
May 28-31 – 5th Annual Leelanau Peninsula Birding Festival
The Leelanau Peninsula has more than 75,000 acres of publicly accessible birding habitat. The Leelanau Peninsula Birding Festival is a three-day cornucopia of field trips, talks and socializing designed with birders in mind. www.mibirdfest.com
June 12 –Divas Uncorked!
Visit the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula on this evening devoted to women, wine and food. Each winery will offer a wine selection paired with an appetizer prepared by one of Traverse City’s best restaurant chefs. www.wineriesofoldmission.com
June 13 — Leland Wine & Food Festival
Michigan’s oldest wine festival takes place at the Leland Harbor. Everyone has a chance to go and see 17 wineries of the Leelanau & Old Mission Peninsulas on Saturday, enjoy great food and music and kick off the summer festival season in style! www.lpwines.com (231) 271-9895
June 14 — Traverse Colantha Walker Dairy Festival
A free, family-friendly festival in honor of Traverse City’s most famous cow! Pancake breakfast, music, kids’ activities, food & drinks, a parade to Colantha’s headstone, the Great Grilled Cheese Grill-off, and MORE! http://www.thevillagetc.com/traverse-colantha-walker-dairy-festival/
June 20 – Traverse City Wine & Art Festival
A celebration of local wine, food and culture, with wines from over 30 area wineries, paired with the flavors of gourmet fare crafted by chefs from the area’s top restaurants. There will also be live music and fine art. traversecitywinefestival.com
June 28 — Old Town Arts & Crafts Fair
Fine arts and crafts will fill the streets in this annual juried art fair, which features over 90 artists and craftsmen displaying their work. This event is open to the public free of charge. Adjacent Lay Park will be featuring live entertainment throughout the day. www.downtowntc.com