by Michael Blanding
The most stunning view at Ocean Edge resort is from the Ocean Terrace atop the main hotel. From there, green lawns leap down to a private beach, with the curving hook of Cape Cod stretching out to the horizon. On a sunny day with a nice sea breeze, you can virtually feel your cares fall away. The mock Tudor mansion that forms the base for the resort was built in 1912 by bank president Samuel Nickerson on one of the most commanding pieces of real estate on the Cape. For most of its existence, it remained a private residence, only opening to the public as a resort in the 1980s. Because of that, it retains a quirky historic feel, with a stone speakeasy bar in the basement and conference rooms upstairs that feel more like elegant sitting rooms.
Over the years, the resort has lost no time in building out on 430 acres of property to become one of the most family-friendly resorts in New England. In addition to the 90 rooms in the main house, 29 exclusive modern-style villas organized along a private beach on the mansion side, and another 216 villa-style rooms arranged in three villages across the street populate the resort. The property can seem overwhelming at times (fair warning: don’t try walking from the mansion to the villages unless you want to get lost among acres of golf fairways), but is kept manageable by the groupings of lodgings, each of which has its own pool, tennis courts, or other amenities to make it seem like a resort within a resort.
Where size really pays off is in the sheer number of family activities available without leaving the grounds — from the private beach to the Cape Cod Rail Trail bike path running through the middle of the property, there’s plenty to do to keep the kids happy, and they are bound to make friends in the hordes of children who come to stay and play in the sun every year. While the resort was beginning to seem outdated in recent years, the owners have recently undertaken a $40 million renovation over four years to update it to contemporary standards — a work that is still in process of completion.
Our Editor Loves
- Calm private beach
- Mind-boggling range of family activities
- Villa-style accommodations
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Ocean Edge offers many different rooms categories with a range in price, size, and proximity to activities and other amenities. The more popular side of the resort is the "mansion side," which is also the more expensive side of the resort. The advantages of staying there are the more luxurious rooms, including larger rooms in the main hotel and the upscale two- and three-bedroom suites Bay Pines villas, two in cottages a short walk from the private beach, which is available only to guest on this side of the property.
Currently the villas have somewhat outdated furniture, with simple, boxy furnishings typical of the no-frills Cape throughout the last decade. Starting in spring 2011, the resort began a $6-million renovation of all the guestrooms on the mansion side, giving them a sleek modern look with a contemporary neutral color palette that still gives a nod to the Cape with nautical and beachy themes. Ask about the status of the renovation, due to be complete by late 2011 or early 2012, and request one of the newer rooms if available. The Bay Pines villas offer food provisioning upon request.
On the "villages side," the lodgings are divided into three separate areas -- Britterage, Arbor and Endicott -- roughly in order of distance from the main hotel and in reverse order of priciest. Each of the villages is similar in feel, with one-bedroom kitchenettes with cathedral ceilings and skylights. The largest village, Britterage, has 116 rooms and is closest to the family-friendly Reef restaurant, a pool, and the bike rentals. The 88 rooms in Arbor are nearby the pro shop and more upscale Linx Tavern; they are close to Fletcher Pool, the largest pool on the property, which includes a toddler wading pool and in indoor pool that is open throughout the year. Finally, Endicott is mostly a residential village, which includes 12 guest rooms that are mostly only rented out when the rest of the property is full. All of the villas have pullout couches, kitchenettes (most with ovens), refrigerators, washer/dryer, flat-screen TVs, and WiFi.
by Chris G
Enormous apartment style rooms with everything a family needs. Two decent pools onsite plus bike hire and a wonderful lake (Blueberry Pond) which you can paddleboard & swim in. The Links onsite restaurant has a lovely outdoor terrace overlooking the golf course. Families are much better served at The Villages than at The Mansions. The Villages guests don’t have access to The Mansions beach or beach bar but there are plenty of great beaches & beach bars nearby in Cape Cod. We stayed at both the Villages and the Mansions on our holiday. The Mansions was far more expensive and our room was tiny and dark (avoid Deluxe rooms in East Wing that face backwards to a wall). The Villages was far cheaper and we had an enormous apartment with lake view balcony.
The Shark Bah( poolside bar) is amazing with great friendly staff. Relax at the bar, ask for Armin and one of his famous drinks!!! The Miami Vice is perfect for sitting by the pool. It’s a red, white, and blue frozen drink of yum. Nikola is another favorite, he makes the best kids virgin frozen drinks topped with whipped cream and a cherry of course. Stop by and say hi! Tell them Noël sent you!
Private Beach & Tidal Flats
For some families, activities begin and end with the beach -- and the kids won't be disappointed here with a 750-foot private beach (one of the few on Cape Cod) along the warmer bay side of the Cape. Especially appealing for families with younger kids are the long tidal flats that are typical of the beaches of Brewster -- ensuring there is no deep water or dangerous undertow for young swimmers, as well as plenty of tidal pools for exploring during low tide. Note, the private beach is only open to guest staying on the "mansion" side of the property, including the main hotel and the Bay Pines villas. Guests staying on the "villages" side can purchase a Brewster town beach pass for $15/day or $50/week to make use of six nearby beaches.
Away from the "ocean's edge," the resort offers a bevy of other family activities during summer, when a weekly calendar is full of special activities nearly every hour, including story hours, trivia contests, wiffeball and volleyball games, T-shirt making and more. A new popular activity is a ballroom that has been converted into a video game studio with Xbox LIVE games.
Families can make use of all kinds of recreational facilities and equipment on the property. Ocean Edge has no less than six pools, all of which are heated and open starting in May. In addition, it has five tennis courts located at several locations on-property and bike rentals on both the mansion and villages side. The popular Cape Cod Rail Trail -- a graded railroad right-of-way that has been converted to a bike path -- offers an easy ride through woods and marshes all the way to the conveniently located chocolate shop in Orleans. Or for a longer ride, you can take it all the way to the Cape Cod National Seashore to investigate the sandy beaches and stunning vistas of the Atlantic. Finally, families that golf together can take advantage of classes for the whole family at the PGA Academy as well as kids' golf camps, where children as young as six can practice their swings for several days at a time.
From the end of June through Labor Day, parents have the option of dropping children off at the EdgeVenture Camp, which organizes activities for kids ages 4 to 12 in half- or full-day sessions from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Depending on the age, these might include beachcombing, kite flying, tennis lessons, or trips to the always popular Cape Cod Baseball League games.
Ocean Edge has four different restaurants on the property, which range in style and menu. All restaurants have separate kids' menus as well as crayons and activity mats to keep the little ones occupied. Also worth noting are special buffet-style family dinners that the resort regularly stages during summer and school vacation weeks during the year -- with various themes such as Mexican, Italian, and hamburgers and hot dogs, they offer great value as well as ease of immediate gratification.
The most accommodating to families is Reef, a casual seafood shack on the villages side, which has both indoor and outdoor seating around the Reef pool (in-season). In addition to New England seafood favorites like stuffed clams, boiled lobster and baked haddock, the restaurant has a kids' menu nearly as long as the adult menu, including all the favorites -- grilled cheese, macaroni, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizzas, etc. -- as well as one only-in-New England offering: the Fluffernutter sandwich, a combination of peanut butter and marshmallow fluff.
Casual in atmosphere is Bayzo's Pub, a speakeasy-style pub with stone walls in the basement of the main house, which offers a sports-bar type atmosphere and pub grub style food: burgers, chicken sandwiches, and the like.
Slightly more upscale in decor that the pub is Linx Tavern, a breezy, contemporary style eatery overlooking the golf course and offering gourmet sandwiches and classic entrees such as grilled rib eye, swordfish steak.
The fine-dining Ocean Terrace is slightly more adventurous the other three restaurants in its sauces and demi-glaces along with some more eclectic side dishes, even if the menu still tends to run towards American classics (filet mignon, bone-in veal chop). One highlight is scrod cooked in parchment dough with a mix of aromatic spices. No reservations are taken at Ocean Terrace, so arrive early to snag a seat on the eponymous outdoor area for a view of the ocean at sunset.
Planning & Tips
All about the Extras
Cribs are complimentary and cots are available for a fee of $35/day. Refrigerators are also available for guestrooms at a rate of $25/day (free for medical use). The resort can also arrange for babysitting through the concierge desk with two outside agencies that it has used for many years. Rates depend upon the number and ages of children.
The Art of Smart Timing
The resort is open full-time from April to the first week of December as well as opening for the week of February vacation. The best time to visit, of course, is during the height of summer, from late June to August, when the children's activities are in full swing and the ocean water is warmest. Rates are lower during the "shoulder season" of April to June and September to November, when it's still possible to luck out with nice weather, though not as much of a guarantee. The resort plans special events for holidays, including an Easter Egg hunt and fireworks for Fourth of July, accompanied by holiday-themed games and craft projects.
Ocean Edge is located in the Cape Cod village of Brewster, along Route 6A, approximately a two-hour drive from Boston along US Routes 3 and 6. From New York City, the resort is a five and a half hour drive along Interstates 95, 195, and 495 and US Route 6.
The closest full-service airport is Boston's Logan International Airport, which offers flights from all major domestic and quite a few international locations. It's also possible to fly from Boston to the regional Barnstable Municipal Airport, from which it's possible to rent a car service or rent a car for the half-hour drive to Chatham. Among the airlines making the trip are Cape Air, Island Air, and Nantucket Airlines, all of which also fly between Hyannis and Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. While the resort does not provide transportation to and from either airport, you can arrange your own through Cape Destinations (http://www.capedestinations.com/).
For Mom and Dad
The one major amenity the resort lacks is a spa (planned for a future renovation), but it does have a treatment room where outpatient therapists offer a limited range of massages and facials. For a night out without the kids, there are several nearby romantic restaurants, including the popular Chillingsworth's, just a short drive from the resort. The French-inspired menu is heavy on truffles, foie gras and confit, and the dining room overflowing with fresh flowers and antiques. Time your meal to arrive early enough to stroll through the extensive grounds and gardens along the sea.