by Christine Koubek
The Wampanoag Indians first discovered this hillside property on Cape Cod’s Pleasant Bay more than 400 years ago. They pitched wigwams, chipped arrowheads, swam in the bay’s clear waters and named the place Wequassett, which means “crescent on the water” most likely because of the crescent-shaped sandy curves around the coves.
Wequassett didn’t officially begin taking “summer boarders” until 1925. The resort’s current owners purchased the property in 1977 and have been expanding and upgrading it to the luxury resort that it has become ever since. Wequassett is Cape Cod’s only member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, a prestigious brand that represents more than 100 independently owned luxury hotels and resorts worldwide.
The 27-acre property located on the “elbow” of Cape Cod is lovely in an understated, casually elegant sort of way, much like Cape Cod itself. The 120 rooms and suites are located in clusters of clapboard cottages that take their names from nature in New England (Daffodil, Hydrangea, Cranberry and Azalea). Each cottage has its own patios and balconies that overlook the bay and the immaculately manicured gardens. One could picture a young Kennedy family hanging out on their boats, dressed in polo shirts, and taking a break to toss the football on the small Kelly-green lawns. Wequassett makes for an elegantly old-fashioned vacation.
Our Editor Loves
- Great mid-Cape location
- Kid-friendly lessons including tennis, swimming and sailing
- Free Wi-Fi
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
There are 10 different room and suite categories at Wequassett. They vary considerably based on size and view. Many of the rooms and suites were recently renovated and look like something out of the pages of Coastal Living magazine, with white wood shuttered windows, flat-screen TVs above fireplaces, creamy white wainscoted trim, closets with a built in dresser and shelves, and super comfortable beds. Some categories have marble bathrooms that include an oversized tub with a silver wire tray that spans the width of the tub to hold a glass of wine and/or book and separate showers that have "rain" and handheld shower heads.
Garden View rooms are the least expensive (yet still a roomy 360 square feet) and offer a king or two queens, and sleeper sofa. Premier Garden Views have all that plus vaulted ceilings.
Cottage Style rooms are an even larger 505 square feet and feature fireplaces, oversized tubs and separate showers. Signature Waterside and Waterview add things like outdoor stone fireplaces, lavish marble baths and large outdoor patios or balconies. The unique two-bedroom Tulip Cottage is set off down an arbor path and has a a king bedroom, a queen bedroom and a living room. Be sure to look at the accommodations section of the website. It has wonderfully detailed listings of each category's room amenities, as well as floor plans for each.
Outdoors, most rooms and suites feature a patio or balcony, many of which have either a gas fire pit or full outdoor stone fireplace, all nicely landscaped to maximize privacy.
In addition, each room has a small refrigerator, room safe, coffee maker, waffle weave robes with soft linings, iPod docking stations, and a mini-flashlight to use when walking around the grounds (or reading at night when the kids are sleeping near you). Nice touch: A hidden ironing board folds out from a wainscoted wall and reveals not only an iron but spray starch and a lint roller too.
Families can request cribs at no extra charge. Rollaway beds and complimentary Wi-Fi access are also available
Request a room in "New Dawn," "Morning Glory" or "Lavender" if you want to be a short walk to the pool; rooms in "Rose," "Queen Anne's Lace" and "Petunia" are all set away from the bay and close to tennis and the children's center.
One caveat: For a resort that is trying to cater more to kids, they missed the boat when it came to TV programming their new high-tech rooms. In these rooms you can program your lights, set an alarm and order services all through your flat-screen; but kid-friendly TV channels like PBS, Disney or Nickelodeon are not available. However, you can ask the concierge for a DVD player (a basket of movies will be brought with it, gratis).
We stayed here this past weekend for a wedding. The grounds are magnificent and the wedding ceremony outdoors (a bit chilly) overlooking the bay was picture perfect. The pool area is beautiful too. We didn't use any of the facilities so no comments about them. All the staff were very friendly and helpful. Our check-in wasn't great. Our room wasn't ready at 2:50 (check-in is 3 p.m.). After serveral minutes, another wedding guest asked why we were sitting in the lobby area. She then said I should ask again to make sure they hadn't forgotten about me. So at about 3:15 I asked again and the man at the desk told me he'd ask housekeeping. I told him that should have been done when I arrived at 2:50. This is a rather expensive resort, so I expected better. When I checked out on Sunday, the woman at the desk asked if everything had been OK during our stay. I responded yes except for check-in. I told her what had happened and she said that wasn't good. She then reprinted our bill and deleted the $28/day required resort fee. I was most pleasantly surprised and appreciative. Smart businesswoman! This earned a more positive review. I also commented that our room (#67) really needed updating. Room was large but decor looked a bit tired--not worthy of such an expensive resort. She replied that rooms were being updated a group at a time, so they are aware that rooms need a pick-me-up. Another positive for them.
5 stars just doesn’t seem enough to rate this exquisite resort! Wequassett exemplifies true hospitality and treats guests like the center of the universe no matter the reason for the stay. Every detail is carefully thoughtful but so authentic. My husband planned a birthday getaway and we enjoyed a relaxed & carefree escape. So hard to leave!!! Wequassett is what I’d call approachable luxury and should be on everyone’s travel bucket list for their most New-Englandy experience!
The resort's new spacious and bright children's center features a nautical themed playground with a giant play structure shaped as a pirate ship, treasure chests, swinging ropes and an adjacent playground with fountains and sprays. The center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition to crafts, books and games, an extra activity is offered each day from picnicking at Clam Point to amphitheatre talent shows to yoga for kids. Check with the concierge for a current schedule and to make a reservation.
Evening programs run Monday, Wednesday and Saturday nights from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Both day and evening programs are for ages 5 to 12 and include a meal.
A toddler program (for ages 2 to 4) is offered Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Staff are permitted to change diapers with parental consent.
Parental supervised free play and access to the playground is available when programs are not in session.
The ratio of kids to counselors is six to one. The only downside we encountered was that while the center has things like a flat screen televisions, Wii and Xbox, children are not allowed to play them during a daytime session. The gaming systems are reserved for the evening programs.
Activities families can enjoy together include Dive-in Movie night (held Thursday nights by the pool complete with popcorn and snacks), Circus-Circus (ringmaster at the pool Wednesday evenings with face painting, balloons and magic tricks), and cooking classes where kids bake cookies and cupcakes. Tennis clinics (with the resident pro at the tennis center) and swimming lessons are also available.
The main resort pool is set on a terrace overlooking the bay and surrounded by decking made of Brazilian wood, lawns, large pots overflowing with flowers, and thickly cushioned poolside lounge chairs, plus cabanas (for an additional half or full day cost). While the pool is certainly inviting to children, there is not a zero-entry depth for little ones (although the shallow end is 2 feet deep). There is a nice Jacuzzi for ages 16 and over, which is strictly enforced. Noodles and other assorted pool toys were typically floating about for children to enjoy.
For fun out on the bay, Nauti Jane's Water Sports shack near the bay beach offers sailing lessons and day sailors, Hobie cats, sunfish and powerboats rentals.
There are several restaurants at Wequassett, and
The Outdoor Bar & Grille
The Outdoor Bar & Grille (serving lunch and dinner from late May through mid October) is the most casual of Wequassett's restaurants . Here you'll find a kid's menu with things like fish 'n chips and other kid-friendly fare. The main menu features 17-inch pizzas, paninis, and entrees like grilled salmon or swordfish. High chairs are available as is a white wicker basket near the hostess stand full of board books and other distractions for young children.
Pleasant Bay Terrace
Pleasant Bay Terrace, adjacent to the pool, offers lunch and dinner in the summer, plus family barbecues and clambakes.
Thoreau's, an upscale pub, serves lunch, drinks, appetizers and dinner in a casual (and a bit dark) setting.
Treat yourself to at least one meal at Twenty-Eight Atlantic, the resort's award-winning restaurant, with eight-foot windows overlooking Pleasant Bay, shaker-style furniture, hand-blown glass chandeliers and beautiful sepia-tone photographs of ships. Breakfast begins at 7 a.m. and includes a la carte as well as buffet options. The buffet is reasonably priced and includes scrambled eggs, tater tots and waffles served at a mini station for kids complete with Elmo and Grover dolls from Sesame Street. Dinner includes specialties like seared sea bass with caviar-dill butter and butter-braised shelled king crab legs. Dinner attire is "smart casual," which means denim, shorts and athletic shoes are not allowed. Reservations are suggested.
Room service is prompt and wonderful, serving meals right on your porch or patio.
It's important to note that there is no casual grab-and-go type fare at the resort, nor a place to get an early cup of coffee if you've woken before the rest of your family and don't want to use the in-room machine.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The "lobby" is actually a small cottage that houses the check-in desk, and a wonderful group of concierges that help you plan everything from watching a movie in your room to a full day out exploring.
Seashell- and starfish-shaped chocolates from Chatham's Candy Manor are left on the pillows each night.
Free Wi-Fi is available at the resort.
The new fitness center is well stocked with cardio equipment, weights and exercise balls.
A small gift shop, located at the entrance of Twenty-Eight Atlantic, sells a small selection of casual wear, gifts, magazines and books.
The Art of Smart Timing
The hotel is open from April through November. The Children's Center is open June through October. The Outer Bar & Grille opens the week before Memorial Day and closes after Columbus Day. All other facilities are open from April through November (weather permitting).
You'll find the lowest rates in April and November and good values in May and October. As for crowds during the summer high season, late June is the least crowded and August the busiest.
The resort is located at the elbow of Cape Cod just outside of Chatham and accessible from Boston, Providence and Hyannis airports. From Boston, it is about a 90-mile drive. Take Route 3 South, following signs for Cape Cod.
Once you reach the Cape Cod Canal, go over the Sagamore Bridge onto Route 6 East. Stay on Route 6 East to exit 11. At the end of the ramp turn left and go 25 yards to Pleasant Bay Road (your first left). Proceed to the second stop sign; the entrance to Wequassett will be directly ahead.
From Hyannis Airport (19 miles): leave the airport and enter the rotary following signs for Route 28 South. Follow Route 28 to your first set of lights and turn left onto Willow Street. Follow Willow Street to Route 6 heading East towards Provincetown. Stay on Route 6 to exit 11. Turn left at the end of the ramp; go 25 yards to Pleasant Bay Road (your first left). Proceed to the second stop sign; the entrance to Wequassett will be directly ahead.
A vehicle is needed to explore much of Cape Cod.
For Mom and Dad
Enjoy live jazz under the stars after a romantic dinner at the resort's Twenty-Eight Atlantic. Wequassett hosts renowned jazz artists every Tuesday and Wednesday night through July and August.