R.D. (Dan) Musser, III
Since 1933, the Musser family has preserved the history and tradition of Grand Hotel, constantly nurturing and thoughtfully improving the grand experience of every guest with each passing year. Located on one of the world’s most beautiful islands, third-generation owner and President Dan Musser III guards that legacy for which he is now responsible while moving it forward.
“One of the things I love about Grand Hotel is greeting the guests,” said Dan. “People come here from all over the world and from all walks of life to relax and rest in this beautiful place. We want every person who comes through these doors to feel welcome and special. Our staff and I strive to create and maintain an intimate, personalized experience for everyone, especially families.”
“After all, most of what I know about the job I do, I learned from my family, he said. “My great uncle, W. Stewart Woodfill, bought Grand Hotel in 1933, having started working here in 1919 as a desk clerk. He was very Victorian, very serious. He felt children were to be seen and not heard, so I spent most of my time outside.”
That was a sign of the times and his great uncle’s vision for Grand Hotel as a formal, proper, beautiful place. Today it remains formal and proper, but also radiates a warmth and friendliness that adds to its beautiful atmosphere.
Before Dan, R.D. Musser Jr., Dan’s father who passed away in 2013, began working for his uncle in 1951 while in college, starting in the bar and then moving to the kitchen. By 1960, he had worked his way up to President and bought Grand Hotel from his uncle in 1979.
Dan Musser III started working at the hotel in high school, raking sand traps on The Jewel. He has been a bellhop, bartender, front desk clerk, front desk manager, reservations manager, Vice President and now, President. “Like my great uncle and dad, I oversee every role our staff plays, even those that are behind the scenes. That’s everything from working with our executive chef to make sure our menus are refreshed every season — even weighing in on the staff’s uniforms and checking every room. I like to think I know Grand Hotel inside and out.”
Each new family owner has been very hands-on, present to greet guests and gracefully deal with all the day-to-day details. Each has also brought his own improvements, maintaining the hotel’s ambiance yet changing with the times and technology, and making them work in their own different ways. There’s no standing still.
On September 28, 2017, Dan Musser was named Steward of History & Historic Preservation by Historic Hotels of America
It remains very much a family-run business today. Dan’s sister, Mimi Cunningham, is Vice President and manages retail outlets at the hotel which includes buying inventory during the winter and merchandising every spring. She works closely with Carleton Varney, Grand Hotel’s longtime interior designer, on design projects at the hotel. She oversees the yearly planning for the hotel’s gardens and works with Grand Hotel’s executive chef on menus for the Main Dining Room and five off-site restaurants. She is passionate for flowers and spends extensive time in Margaret’s Garden, Grand Hotel’s onsite flower shop, especially during busy wedding weekends. Like Dan, she has held a variety of positions at the hotel and has a thorough understanding of all its aspects.
A Family Business
Dan and Mimi’s mother, Amelia Musser, still works as the hotel’s secretary/treasurer. Dan’s wife, artist Marlee Brown, has her paintings in several guest rooms and also in Grand Hotel’s gallery Oil Paintings by Marlee. Their children are starting to learn the ways of Grand Hotel as well, with one son working in the pastry kitchen, a daughter in the Grand Stables and their 10-year-old son selling mini bottles of Coca-Cola on the porch from a bicycle with a cooler. The family tradition of learning Grand Hotel from the inside out remains the same as it has for those three generations.
Dan Musser says, “We know it’s important to make every guest’s visit to Grand Hotel personal, just as you might find in a much smaller inn. So we look at each room and every hotel space through our guests’ eyes. That helps us make sure each visitor — from the first of the season to the last — has a great experience. I look forward to personally greeting every person who walks through our doors, offering them impeccable hospitality, this grand atmosphere and an experience like no other. From our family to yours, we’re very proud of Grand Hotel and plan on being here for many years to come. We’ve saved you a rocking chair on the world’s longest porch. We can’t wait to see you here at America’s Summer Place.”