By Roger Cox, Editor
Grand Traverse Resort & Spa sits along the shores of Lake Michigan's East Grand Traverse Bay. Its 900 acres encompasses some 575 rooms, suites, and condominiums, three 18-hole golf courses, a spa, more than half a dozen food outlets—some of them seasonal—100,000 square-foot indoor/outdoor health club, a shopping complex, 86,500 square-feet of meeting space, and a casino operated by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, which owns the resort. It is the largest and most complete in the entire state, allowing it to lay claim to the title "Michiganâ€™s Premier Resort Experience."
Pro Shop: 231-534-6776
Tennis at Grand Traverse takes place on the nine hard courts at the health club, where five of them are indoors, thus allowing for year-round play. Much of this is geared toward locals and members and their children, though the accommodating staff strives to find ways to integrate tennis-playing guests into the programs, which include several drill and play sessions, Cardio tennis, and pickleball. There is also a lengthy roster of junior activities, ranging from Quickstart to high performance across the broad spectrum of ages and abilities.
Tennis Staff. George Lowe is the Director of Tennis. A ranked junior in the Pacific Northwest, where he's from, and later the former team captain and No. 2 doubles player for Kalamazoo College, he went on to teach and several clubs, including the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo, The Lawn and Tennis Club of North Carolina, and Deer Lake Athletic Club in Clarkston, MI. Most recently, George served the USTA Midwest Section as the Tennis Service Representative (TSR), with a focus on community development, for the state of Michigan.
Tennis Programs. At Grand Traverse, he says his core responsiblity is the high-performance program for local juniors. Hotel guests gravitate to the twice-weekly Cardio tennis clinics, which, he says, &quo;are very well attended and very well liked," as well as the periodic mixers and special events typically held on weekends. There's also a free clinic on the first Saturday of every month. In addition there is a "Three and Me" doubles session with the pro making as the fourth, with a focus on drills and better doubles play. Otherwise, there is a host of on-going programs for local members, among them singles and doubles drill and play clinics open to guests on a drop-in basis. The same is tru of on-going junior programs.
Courts & Fees. 9 hard courts, five of them indoors.
Beach. Located on Lake Michigan, the resort's Beach Club affords opportunities to rent jet skis, kayaks, paddleboards
Golf Courses. As the former site of the Michigan Open, golf commands a very high profile at Grand Traverse. It has three designer courses and a golf academy.
The Bear: The very name is a tribute to its designer Jack Nicklaus. The 18-hole layout has been listed among the Top 20 toughest in the U.S. The location conferred on it a rolling landscape of trees, lakes, streams, and fruit orchards while Nicklaus invested it with terraced fairways and tiered greens bordered by deep, grassy roughs and riddled with moguls, mounds, and deep pot bunkers. A par 72, it plays at just over 7,000 yards from the back tees.
The Wolverine: Gary Player's contribution, laid out partly through lowland terrain and wetlands, partly in hardwood-studded rolling hills with views of the bay. Another 18 holes at 7,000+ yards from the back tees.
Spruce Run: Named for the spruce and fir trees that line its fairways and greens, this most forgiving of the three courses winds through the rolling hills giving views of the bay. A par 70, it plays 6,304 yards from the back tees
Spa and Fitness Center. Spa: Contained within the health club, the Grand Traverse Spa has treatments born out of local products, among them the region's cherries, which gave rise to a relaxation massage using cherry oil, or an exfoliating and hydrating cherry honey glow treatment. There are numerous other treatments as well as nail and hair salons. Fitness: the expansive health club has a broad range of workout equipment, fitness classes, and activities, aqua aerobics, spinning, Pilates, yoga, and TRX. There are also two indoor and two outdoor swimming pools in various locations and a total of seven indoor or outdoor hot tubs as well as an indoor water playground.
And ... Winter brings a variety of options, among them snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice skating.
From Monday to Saturday in summer, the resort offers a full range of organized children's activities every afternoon as well as on Saturday mornings.
Lodging options range from hotel rooms—some in that 17-story tower, others in a building near the spa and health club—to one-to-three-bedroom condominiums along the East Bay or golf fairways and on to private homes along The Bear golf course.
There are half a dozen restaurants and bars, including Aerie on the 16th floor of the Tower where it commands views of the bay.
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Seasons. The main social and family season runs from mid June to late August. In the late spring and fall, it tends to attract groups, though selected dates and weekends during those periods may be available for vacationers. Check with the resort to find out for sure.