Property Info

Why You Should Book Directly With Us

Sure, our rooms can be booked on internet travel sites.  Unless I really screw up, you will not find a lower price on any of the online booking sites than you can get from us.  In addition, several of our largest room types are only available on our website or through the front desk.   We also run various promotions (free ferry tickets, 10% off for cyclists, 7th day free, etc.) which are only available through us.  Take for instance the free ferry ticket promotion we run in the summer; stay 2 weeknights with us in a lakefront room and receive 2 Star Line ferry tickets.  As I explained to a couple of guests, if you book with or, I have to give THEM the ferry tickets; I would much rather give them to my guests as it costs me the same or even a little less than the commission I have to pay to the booking sites.

About Our Lakeshore

At the Clearwater we are fortunate to have 300 feet of lakefront property on Lake Huron.  However, I would not describe this as a typical “sandy beach” which would be ideal for swimming.  Due to the recent low water levels in the great lakes, the lakefront in Mackinaw City has become increasingly weedy.  We are doing everything in our power to restore our section of lakefront to “sandy beach” conditions, but due to DNR regulations this is a slow process and may take 2 to 3 years.  We have done everything we can to remove any reference online to our property having a “beach” as we do not want to mislead our guests. Can you swim from our lakefront?  Absolutely, I do it myself, but I’m an experienced scuba diver and a little vegetation doesn’t bother me.  On the other hand, there is a reason almost all of the hotels in Mackinaw City have indoor pools:  The lake water is COLD up here!  Try it and see.  I don’t go in without a wetsuit. UPDATE May 2015:  OK, NOW I would describe our lakefront as a sandy beach.   We have removed all of the large rocks, extended the beach upwards and added 200 cubic yards of sand.  Check our Facebook page for photos!

2 Floors – No Elevators

Our property consists of 5 separate buildings, all of which contain 8 rooms.  There are 2 floors per building, and no elevators.  There are also 2 steps to porch on each building where the entry doors are located.   We do have an ADA ramp on one of the lakefront buildings, if you require a room on the first floor of this building you must contact our front desk either by phone or by emailing  If you prefer a specific floor,  please use the “Special Instructions” field on our online booking system, or call our front desk at 231-268-0441.

Cancellation Policy

It has been brought to my attention that the cancellation policy is only visible when you book a room, so here it is: Cancellations must be made at least 48 hours prior to the 3:00 PM check-in time on your arrival date. Cancellations made with less than 48 hours notice will result in a charge of 1 night’s stay.

Smoking Policy

In order to protect our indoor air quality and contribute to the health and well-being of our guests and staff, we maintain a smoke-free environment in all buildings including the balconies, common areas, and within 20 feet of any exterior doorway.   If  smoking occurs in a room, the guest will be charged a $250 cleaning fee to cover the expense and effort required to return the room to a smoke free condition.


Pets are not allowed on the property.

Minimum Age

Minimum age to book and check in to a room is 21.


All of our rooms include complimentary continental breakfast.

Hi-Speed Wi-Fi

Like most hotels we subscribe to a high speed internet service.  Unlike most hotels, we subscribe to the highest speed available (100 mbs) and distribute it throughout our property using a state of the art point to multi-point wireless bridge and wireless routers that employ the latest  networking protocols.

Overbooking Policy

The standard practice in the lodging industry is to overbook rooms by a certain percentage in order to assure that cancellations and no-shows do not negatively impact maximum occupancy during peak periods.  At the Clearwater Lakeshore Motel, we do NOT overbook rooms.  If you have a reservation with us, I guarantee that when you arrive  we will have the specific type of room  that you booked available.  On the rare occasion when a room is not available due to maintenance  reasons (say for instance the AC is not working), we will do our very best to arrange a similar room for you at another Mackinaw City property at the same price.


When booking a room, guests often enquire if we have AAA/AARP/Military/State Employee/Government Employee/Your Group Here discounts.  My answer is “We offer the same low prices to everyone.”  Nearly every lodging establishment has a “Rack Rate” which is artificially high and that almost nobody pays.  All of the discounts are based on this rate, the discounted price is the rate at which the hotel is actually willing to sell rooms.  Part of our philosophy here at the Clearwater is to not mislead our guests in any way.  In the above scenario, the only people who end up paying the inflated “Rack Rate” are those who show up without a reservation and generally don’t use the internet to price shop.  I believe this is discriminatory against this group, who are generally older and not as tech savvy as people who have grown up in a connected world.   We have one rate for everyone; I believe it is very reasonable.    Also, I’m not about to spend a bunch of my time developing and publishing phony rates just so I can offer my guests a fake discount.

Mackinac Island Ferry Tickets

We buy in bulk from the good people at Star Line Ferry and offer steeply discounted tickets to our guests.  Seriously, check with us before you buy tickets elsewhere.  Must be a Clearwater Lakeshore Motel guest to receive our special low priced tickets.

Why You Didn’t Receive A Lakefront Room

The thing that has caused the most confusion and disappointment this past season is guests thinking they have booked a lakefront room when they have actually booked a courtyard room.  Every guest who has booked a courtyard room but expected a lakefront room when they arrived made their reservation on a 3rd party booking site; the booking engine on this site ( clearly delineates between Lakefront and Courtyard rooms.  I really don’t like to have disappointed guests, and when a Courtyard room booker shows up thinking they booked a Lakefront room, it gets our relationship off to a bad start, like at the beginning of a  Hollywood romantic comedy where the male and female protagonists through some misunderstanding just don’t get along.  Please read the details below, and help get our relationship started off on the right foot!  In a nutshell:

The only way to get a Lakefront room is to book a Lakefront room.

Seems obvious, doesn’t it?  The problem lies in the limited room nomenclature and text descriptions permitted by the 3rd party booking sites.  Here is how it breaks down, by site(s)., which includes Priceline and a couple of other minor sites you’ve never heard of: will not permit me to include the text “Non-Lakefront” in the room names of our courtyard rooms.  ALL of the lakefront rooms do however contain the words “Lake View” in the room name.  Additionally, the first sentence of the room descriptions of the courtyard rooms begins “This non-lakefront room…..” That’s as far as they allow me to go.  A large majority of all of the reviews on TripAdvisor where the guest was disappointed that they did not receive a a lakefront room are from guests who booked on  To recap: on, if it doesn’t say  “Lake View” in the room name, it has no view of the lake.

Expedia, which includes and Travelocity:

Expedia won’t even let me include “Lake View” in the room names.  In short, any room with the word “Standard” in the room name is NOT lakefront.  All of the rooms without the word “Standard” in the room name are Lakefront; additionally, the first sentence of the room description of the Lakefront rooms begins with “Step out onto your balcony and enjoy the view of the lake.”  I realize that this in not entirely obvious, but Expedia has a a limited selection of room names to choose from and we hotel owners cannot write our own room descriptions.

A number of guests have reported speaking to customer service representatives at the 3rd party sites who assured them that a courtyard room was in fact lakefront.  If you have questions, you should call us, as I guarantee we have the correct answer to this type of question where the booking sites apparently do not, which is understandable considering the customer service reps have never been here.

Obviously the best way to avoid the confusion is to book through us; not one guest who has booked a courtyard room through us arrived expecting a lakefront room.  The 3rd party sites will never have a better price than we do.

WE WANT YOU TO ENJOY YOUR VACATION!  If you are disappointed that you didn’t get the lakefront room you were expecting we’re starting off behind the eight ball.  Call us if you have any questions on any of our rooms on any booking site.


Paper Thin Walls!? 

This is in response to a TripAdvisor reviewer complaining about our paper-thin walls.  Actually, the walls in all of our lakefront rooms are double thick.  The common wall that runs between any 2 rooms is actually 2 walls; each room has its own framed, insulated, drywalled wall.  The photo below was taken from 2 adjoining rooms; the walls are the same thickness in all of the rooms whether they have a connecting door or not.

double walls



Gary McGaughey, Proprietor
On Behalf of the Staff
Clearwater Lakeshore Motel
11380 U.S. 23
Mackinaw City, MI