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Editor’s Review of Chatham Bars Inn
Cape Cod extends off the Massachusetts shoreline like a finger crooked at "come hither" -- and there are plenty of reasons the crowds do every summer. Forward thinking conservationists preserved the outer cape as a pristine beach environment, full of white-sand beaches and dunes fronting the crashing waves of the Atlantic. The rest of the Cape, meanwhile, abounds with family-friendly attractions, from the guilty pleasures of mini-golf and ice cream to the more active pursuits of boating and biking. The only problem, of course, are those crowds that gum up the highways and beaches every summer afternoon, making it difficult to appreciate all of the attractions in their midst.
That's part of what makes the jaw-dropping luxury ... more at Chatham Bars Inn so special. Located in the quaint historic town of Chatham in the corner of the Cape, the resort provides an oasis from the crowds, where guests can experience the Cape the way it was decades ago (or, in the opinion of many residents, the way it should be.) The first grand summer resort on Cape Cod, Chatham Bars has virtually cornered the market on luxury in the past century. Founded in 1914, the inn retains a Great Gatsby-ish ambience that pleases traditionalists -- all white columns and rattan chairs on a verandah overlooking the ocean. But a recent renovation in 2007 completely overhauled the amenities to bring it up to 21st century standards for opulence. Guests can walk down the bluff to the beach, play tennis on clay courts, or board an expedition on the inn's newly redesigned sailing fleet all without leaving the resort. At the same time, its strategic location at the very crook of the Cape allows guests to drive easily to the honky-tonk pleasures of the Upper Cape or the pristine seashore of the Outer Cape.
In addition to updating the guestrooms and restoring the grand lobby and verandah with its signature 180-degree views of the ocean, the recent $14 million renovation added a new spa that is among the best in New England, along with an accompanying outdoor pool and landscaped Japanese gardens. The inn also added environmental awareness to its list of priorities, with eco-friendly changes including fluorescent bulbs, a newly efficient HVAC system, and an electric golf cart. While the makeover made the resort newly fashionable for couples and girls looking for a getaway spa weekend, it didn't change the fact that this is first and foremost a family resort, with four separate kids' programs catering to different age groups, and families coordinating their vacations around one another for yearly summer reunions among the children. less
- Kids' programs and activities
- Direct access to the beach and a free water taxi
- Nature walks and sightseeing trips
- Water Sports
- Children's Program
- Kids' Pool
- Kids'/Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Included in the inn's renovations is a new fitness center with a variety of cardio and weight machines, along with classes in ... Get more Planning and Tips
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Room decor is not going to win any avant-garde design awards -- all of the 200-plus rooms are decorated in a posh but highly understated style, with a palette that might be described as "beach in winter" -- white, beige, and grey. But if the rooms aren't overflowing with character, they are at least overflowing in little luxuries, including such name-brand extras as Frette linens, Aveda bath products, BOSE wave radios, and -- the latest high-end "perk" -- those capsule-based Nespresso coffee makers.
All of the rooms are suitable for families with the exception of the new Spa Suites (limited to adults only) and those rooms in the Beach House, which sit over the restaurant and can sometimes have a noise problem at night. Perhaps the most desirable rooms are those in the cottages that front the beach to the left of the main inn as you are looking towards the ocean. They offer the best access to the water while still being close to the pool and the main lodging. Families with smaller children might be more comfortable in the main inn or in the cottages immediately to the left of the main building, which are more convenient for dining and activities, while still allowing for a short walk to the beach. less