Stafford Smith was only 22 years old when he bought his first property in Northern Michigan. Bay View Inn, located in Petoskey, was built in 1886 as a summer hotel under the name Woodland Avenue House. It wasn’t until 1935 that the hotel was renamed Bay View Inn, a place where decades later, Smith would work for several summers before purchasing it in 1961. Today, it is the oldest summer hotel north of Grand Rapids.
Together with his wife, Janice, Smith expanded his business — Stafford’s Hospitality — over the next few decades by purchasing various properties in Northern Michigan.
“Our company owns and operates five landmark properties in Northern Michigan, including: Stafford’s Bay View Inn in Bay View; Stafford’s Perry Hotel in Petoskey; Stafford’s Pier Restaurant in Harbor Springs; Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge & Suites in Alanson; and Stafford’s Weathervane Restaurant located in Charlevoix,” said Becky Babcock, marketing director of Stafford’s Hospitality.
Stafford’s Hospitality has made a name for itself statewide and even more so in Petoskey, where both Bay View Inn and the Perry Hotel reside.
“The Petoskey region is special to many; generations of families have been vacationing up here for years,” Babcock said. “There is never a shortage of things to do, see or experience — no matter the season.”
Bay View Inn provides a more remote stay for guests within the Bay View Association. Only a few steps away from Little Traverse Bay, the historic inn is surrounded by trails and world-class golf.
As downtown Petoskey’s only remaining hotel, the Perry Hotel — built in 1899 — is centrally located in the city’s Gaslight Village and is surrounded by shops and restaurants.
“Both hotels are set in a historic setting, but with modern day amenities, world-class hospitality and exceptional culinary delights,” Babcock added.
The exteriors of both properties exude 19th-century charm with panoramic views of the bay that have been enjoyed for over a century.
Bay View Inn and the Perry Hotel are properties that have welcomed visitors even before the West Michigan Pike was completed — they give credit to the lengthy history of vacationing on Lake Michigan’s shoreline.