Traverse City, a small beachside resort town at the tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, has long been known (to Midwesterners at least) as a food and wine destination. While area chefs have used the bounty of fresh local ingredients to put Traverse City on the culinary map, winemakers here have taken advantage of Traverse City’s geographical location at the same latitude as Burgundy, France, and its climate to make surprisingly high-quality wines. For wine lovers visiting the area, one of the best places to stay is Chateau Chantal.
Chateau Chantal sits on 65 acres right in the middle of the Mission Peninsula, surrounded by vineyards, and with views of the Grande Traverse Bay on both sides. The 20 -year-old hotel was built by a former priest and a former nun who, after separating from the church, were married. They designed the hotel in a modern French chateau style and named it after their daughter. The building and guest rooms feature French antiques, wrought-iron beds and claw-foot tables as well as modern amenities like large TVs, mini-fridges and wet bars, and deep jacuzzi tubs.
My room, the French School Suite, was decorated in muted tones of yellow and mauve with a wrought-iron bed, sitting room with a small couch and claw-foot table, a wet bar, and bathroom with a jacuzzi tub. Some rooms have king beds, and all have patios or balconies.
In addition to the hotel building with 11 guest rooms, there’s a full-service winery, tasting room, and event space. Winery tours, tapas on the terrace, and cooking classes are offered, and a free breakfast – baked goods, fresh fruit, and a changing daily dish like french toast or veggie quiche – is offered every day. Of course the biggest perk is the wine. Guests are welcomed on a private tour of the winery every morning and have 24-hour access to the tasting room for after-hours sampling. Chateau Chantal runs on the honor system, so if you like a wine, just grab a bottle and take it to your room, add it to your tally, and pay upon check-out.
The policy promotes the feeling that the property is yours to enjoy, a chateau of your own among the vines. Other aspects of the B&B reinforce the feeling; staff is available but not intrusive (reachable by phone after hours rather than stationed at a front desk) and there are plenty of little nooks and crannies to explore on the property, from the spacious dining area with plenty of tables (and no forced socializing) to the grand front porch with wooden chairs to the expansive deck with views of water on both sides.
Tasting hours at the winery are are 11am to 5pm daily, with extended hours during summer (and an early private tour for guests). On Thursday nights from 7pm – 9:30pm in the summer, there’s a free jazz performance, wine and food pairings are offered during the summer, as well as terrace tapas tastings, and three wine dinners on select dates.
Room rates range from $150-$510 per night depending on the time of year, day of week, and category of room. During the summer high season, most guest rooms and suites range from $190 and $230.