Wequassett: The Quintessential Cape Cod Retreat
All it took was one evening at the Wequassett to realize why folks return to this Cape Cod resort year after year, generation after generation. Sweating profusely from an unusually humid day in these parts, my wife and I entered their signature restaurant, twenty-eight Atlantic and were thankfully cooled from the A/C within moments. The design of the room, with its views of Pleasant Bay through the picture windows and the prints of sailboats that lined the walls, was the perfect salve to soothe my hot and bothered state.
One bite into our first appetizer, salmon sashimi topped with a small quail egg dripping with yolk, and I quickly understood why Zagat's gave the restaurant its highest rating on Cape Cod. For entrees, my wife had the flounder, fresh and most likely caught that morning. I wisely chose the scallops, tender on the inside, caramelized on the outside, and coupled with wild mushroom ravioli, a tasty combination.
If we simply returned to our room that evening, it would have been a successful evening, an excellent meal that I'd quickly forget until I eat at the restaurant again. The reason I'll remember Wequassett years from now is what happened next. My wife, Lisa, and I heard music and wandered over to the Garden Cafe. Much to my delight, some dude was belting out Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," and a mass of frenzied bodies, aged 10 to somewhere near 90, were huddled in front of the singer swaying to the band's beat. When R&B balladeer, Ray Greene, started in on "She's a Bad Mama Jama," Lisa and I were right there on that dance floor. Less than ten minutes later, we were happily drenched in sweat and loving every minute of it, as if we just strolled into someone's wedding reception. Ray and his band were hosted by Wequassett as part of its seventh annual jazz festival.
I firmly believe that the most memorable resorts have more than just a sumptuous room, stellar restaurant, and sublime stretch of property. They have a distinct personality that usually stems from the owners on down. The reason why my family continues to visit the Winnetu Resort on Martha's Vineyard is because owner Mark Snider always has something new in store, like an antique fire truck he purchased on Ebay to drive kids around the property. Mark Novota, co-owner of the Wequassett Resort since 1977, has that same genuine joie de vivre. He's obviously enjoying his life and he wants his guests to join in on his sheer exuberance.
So it's not enough to simply have the top restaurant on the Cape. He wants his guests to wander over to the cafe afterwards to dance their booty off. It's not enough to have a large heated pool, surrounded by cabanas and oversized chaise lounge chairs. No, he'll have one of his captains escort you by motor boat to a deserted beach on the Cape Cod National Seashore, once connected to the mainland, but now an island due to a storm on the Atlantic several winters ago. On the ride out, you'll easily spot some of the thousands of gray seals that call the Pleasant Bay waters home, popping their heads out of the water like periscopes.
Still not convinced? You can have your own private clambake for family and friends in one of those poolside cabanas overlooking the Pleasant Bay shoreline as the sun sets. A shuttle takes you over to the quaint shops and restaurants (The Impudent Oyster is a favorite) in the Norman Rockwellesque town of Chatham. There are bikes at your disposal to ride the nearby Cape Cod Rail Trail, through the cranberry bogs that turn beet red in autumn. The har-tru tennis courts are now lit at night and there's easy access to one of the region's finest private golf courses, the Cape Cod National Golf Club. And the grounds are brimming over with every type of Cape flower imaginable, from hydrangeas to azaleas to colorful day lilies.
Yet, that didn't satisfy Novota. So in the past year, he and his partner, James McClennen, poured in more than $40 million in renovations. They completed new signature collection suites, complete with king-sized beds that suck you in (especially after dancing for an hour straight), Jacuzzis and rainforest showers in the big bathrooms, a state-of-the-art smart panel to turn on and off the lighting, A/C, flat screen television, and Ipod port at the click of one button, outdoor patio, fire pit, and additional hot tubs. There's also a new children's center, with an outdoor water playground and splash area that resembles a pirate ship.
Every afternoon, a vintage ice cream truck makes rounds throughout the property, the Good Humor Man dispensing goodies to families. This is an apt metaphor for the memories Wequassett dishes out with its ice cream, a la Willy Wonka, the reason why families return annually to this quintessential Cape Cod retreat ever since it first opened in 1944. It doesn't just make a damn good tuna tartare; it creates an experience one won't quickly forget.
Call 800-225-7125 or visit Wequassett for reservations. The 120-room resort is about 90 minmute drive from Boston and Logan Airport.