A Grand Tradition

Since opening its doors in 1847, the Grand Hotel’s identity has been inextricably linked with a proud heritage as a social host and a vital part of military service. Originally built as a two-story building with 40 rooms, guests originally traveled to the Grand Hotel by steamboats and docked at what is now the Marina. Over the years the resort and its reputation grew, with the hotel guest list boasting an impressive array of world dignitaries and celebrities.

From its strategic location on Mobile Bay, the Grand has also played a pivotal role in defending our nation as a vital military staging site and its ties to American freedom span two centuries and two wars. Standing as a hospital during the Civil War and later as host to key training operations during World War II, this is hallowed ground. It was here, on the sands of Point Clear, where Allied forces' finest trained in Operation Ivory Soap, a classified military operation that played a vital part in World War II’s final push. Each day, the Grand Hotel honors its wartime history, concluding with a cannon firing on the edge of Mobile Bay.

From American presidents to world leaders, to stars of movies and music, to generations of patriots, the Grand will eternally be revered as a national destination, rich in history – a hotel that embodies the best traditions of this country.

  • The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection, has been known throughout the South as The Queen of Southern Resorts for more than 170 years.
  • Colin Powell, Margaret Thatcher, Barbara Bush, Dolly Parton, Fannie Flagg, Patty Labelle, and many NFL greats have all stayed here.
  • F.H. Chamberlain built the hotel in 1847. It was a two-story building with 40 rooms. A separate building housed the dining room and kitchen, with a third building housed a bar called "The Texas."
  • In 1864, a portion of the hotel became a hospital during the Civil War. A cemetery was built for about 300 soldiers near the 18th tee of the Grand’s Azalea course.
  • In 1869, a fire destroyed the dining room, kitchen, and guest rooms. There were no deaths.
  • In 1871, "The Texas" bar was turned into an emergency hospital following the explosion of the steamboat "Ocean Wave."
  • Captain H.C. Baldwin bought the hotel in the 1870s for $75,000. It was 300 feet long and had 60 suites.
  • In 1893, a hurricane destroyed the dining room and "The Texas" bar. Both were rebuilt.
  • In 1901, Major James K. Glennon of Mobile bought the hotel. In 1906 and 1916, the hotel was severely damaged. Major Glennon was ready to quit, but Mrs. Glennon intervened and supervised repairs that helped reopen it.
  • In 1939, Mr. E.A. Roberts bought the hotel and 25 additional parcels of land. In 1940, the old buildings were renovated and the main building was constructed.
  • The Army Air Corps used the hotel as a training base during World War II. None of the soldiers wore combat boots in the hotel in order to protect the hardwood floors.
  • After WWII, Robert’s company, the Waterman Steamship Company, built a marina, two tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, and a swimming pool. A garage and specialty shops were built.
  • The Lakewood Club was founded in 1947 with 18 holes of golf.
  • Ten cottages were added in the 1950s.
  • In 1955, Southern Industries bought the hotel and then sold it to James K. McLean in 1966.
  • McLean added the Bay House and soon the hotel grew to 172 guest rooms.
  • In 1967, a third nine-hole golf course and the first conference center were added.
  • The Lakewood Club hosted the 1974 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship for the first time.
  • In 1979, the hotel closed as a result of Hurricane Frederick. Roofs were damaged and 5,000 trees on the golf course were lost. The hotel reopened on April 10, 1980.
  • In 1981, the Marriott Corporation bought the Grand Hotel and added the North Bay House and the Marina building, bringing the total number of guest rooms to 306.
  • In 1983, a fourth nine holes were added – this made for two 18-hole courses, the Dogwood and Azalea courses.
  • In 1986, the old Gunnison House was torn down to make way for the Grand Ballroom.
  • The Lakewood Club hosted the 1986 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship for the second time.
  • Major renovations to the hotel were completed in 2003, including a new spa, pool and additional guest rooms.
  • Renovation of the Dogwood course was completed in 2004. The renovation of the Azalea course was completed in 2005.
  • An expansion of the Grand’s grounds and new real estate opportunities were announced in 2006.
  • Daily patriotic military salutes and cannon firing started in 2008.
  • "The Experience" opened in the Spring of 2016. The new golf practice facility features private lessons (swing, putting, short game), junior clinics, league clinics, club fitting, skills challenges, and more.
  • In 2017, the Championship greens were added to the Dogwood course.
  • Beginning in 2017, the Grand began a magnificent transformation designed to recast the entire resort as a sanctuary of modern Southern hospitality. From rooms refreshed in beautiful coastal hues to a complete redesign of our dining experiences to a rejuvenating spa and thoughtful makeover of our conference facilities, the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection, debuts anew in 2018 in the Autograph collection, reclaiming its renown as the Queen of Southern Resorts.
  • In 2019, the Championship greens were added to the Azalea course.
  • The Lakewood Club hosted the 59th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship on September 10-15, 2021 for the third time. 
  • Two Championship Croquet Courts opened on October 21, 2022

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