Summer vacations to Cape Cod bring to mind open-air dinners of whole-belly fried clams, rounds of miniature golf with the little ones and long days at the beach. Luxury? That word was typically reserved for Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, the Cape’s better-heeled offshore neighbors.
But now luxury can be found on the mainland Cape, at the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in quiet Harwich, Massachussetts. With 120 rooms stretching across a picturesque 27 acres along the still waters of Pleasant Bay and Round Cove, the Wequassett allows a traveler to experience the treasures of Cape Cod without sacrificing the service and style of a luxury vacation.
Cape Cod is a peninsula shaped like a flexing arm that juts out into the Atlantic. Harwich sits at the elbow of the Cape, abutting the tony town of Chatham, with its candy shops, art galleries and white clapboard houses. With some of the best beaches in the United States, this spot on the Cape makes it easy to choose between the rough surf on the Atlantic side, or the still, tranquil waters found in the bays and inlets protected by the elbow.
A modest predecessor of Wequassett—a Wampanoag Indian name meaning “crescent on the water”—opened in 1925, and was expanded in the late 1970s. A $40 million renovation in 2010 brought luxurious suites with gas fireplaces, air-jet soaking tubs and marble bathrooms. Service here is attentive and personal, from the waiters who bring icy poolside beverages to the bellmen explaining the layout of your rooms.
With four Har-Tru tennis courts, two pools (the main one surrounded by posh cabanas) and two beaches, activities abound at the Wequassett. One way to experience the majesty of the Cape is to have one of the captains manning the resort’s collection of small boats take you on the short trip to a part of Cape Cod National Seashore that is accessible only by boat. The resort will provide comfortable chairs, a lunch if you wish, and drop you on a strip of isolated beach where you can while away an afternoon as the surf massages your toes.
The Wequassett offers a very strong lineup of supervised children’s activities, and a vintage ice cream truck pays a visit on a daily basis. While junior is at camp you can enjoy a little quiet time by the pool, or slip next door to Cape Cod National, a private 6,954-yard golf course that offers tee times for guests of the Wequassett.
The resort has four restaurants. Twenty-Eight Atlantic is the fanciest of the quartet, serving seared foie gras and lobster and mushroom ravioli in a room decorated in New England seaside style, with eight-foot-tall windows overlooking the water. The Outer Bar and Grille puts you in the open air on the deck, with such homey Cape Cod classics as clam chowder, lobster rolls and, yes, fried clams.
The large fire pit not far from the main pool is a popular gathering area at night, and one where your cigar is welcome. For the less social smoker, few things rival the solace of sitting on your room’s private deck overlooking the boats dotting Pleasant Bay, cigar in hand, listening to the gulls cry out as the sun kisses the sea goodnight.
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