Would you commute thousands of miles one-way to get to work? Would you leave your home for 6 months every year to provide for your family? For many of our employees at the Chippewa Hotel Waterfront and our sister hotel, the Lilac Tree Suites, the big adventure starts every Spring. First, the car ride to the airport, then flying thousands of long miles from the islands and countries of Jamaica, Barbados, Philippines, Mexico and South Africa all the way to Michigan. Next riding a bus to Mackinaw City or St. Ignace, boarding a Ferryboat to the island we call Mackinac, then a horse taxi clip-clopping down Main Street to St. Cloud where they are greeted by a family-reunion, Mackinac style with hugs, smiles, familiar faces, cheers of “welcome back” at their 6-month home away from home.
For many of our international family like Camille, Ntombi and Imelda who have been a part of the Chippewa Hotel family for many seasons, this is all too familiar. While they leave their families, we see them as part of our family and love it when they return. The Chippewa Hotel Waterfront is honored to have 100% of our Housekeeping team wanting to return this year. That’s what we call loyalty, just like our guests like you who return every year.
They are all extremely hard- working people and conscientious in all that they do and for many, they are the sole providers of large family units. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “whistle while you work.” Our international family likes to sing while they work, and many of the songs are religious in nature as they are all very religious people.
Many Chippewa Hotel Waterfront guests, yes, me included, have complimented them on their singing and joyous demeanor and wish more people had their infectious, positive attitudes, especially while working. Whether they’re cleaning rooms, making beds or gently knocking on doors with cookies, milk and turn-down service, there’s always a warm, genuine smile, just like our own moms when we were growing up.
While they live on Mackinac, there are many sacrifices for them as they miss watching their families grow up and not being around for emergencies. In their absence, dedicated moms and Grandmothers step in and embrace their families to take care of their children.
Brian Bailey, our General Manager at the Chippewa Hotel Waterfront and Lilac Tree Suites typically visits them off-season in a wide variety of locations in the US and overseas every year to meet with them and their families and to give a heart-felt “thanks” for the sacrifices they all make to make your vacation stay perfect when you visit us on Mackinac Island.
Brian sums it up best. “The amount of sacrifice they endure to travel thousands of miles to
support their families is so admirable. They’re very appreciative for the opportunity to work and earn a living for their families on Mackinac Island as there aren’t many opportunities in their homelands and their wages are significantly less. They do their jobs with a great attitude, smile, and a song in their hearts.” – Brian Bailey, General Manager
They’re wanting to pack up and return to Mackinac for our 2023 season, and they’d be the first to tell you that they don’t really enjoy the cold and snow as they prefer warmer weather like they have in their home countries or our beautiful Mackinac summers that will be here before you know it.
While it’s hard to say good-bye in the Fall, it’s great to welcome our family back in the Spring. It’s time to make your reservations for your next trip with us and we’ll be sure to welcome you back with a smile because you’re our extended family too.
We’re looking forward to seeing you again. Welcome home!
George Piliouras for The Chippewa Hotel Waterfront