by Lissa Poirot
The Winnetu Oceanside Resort is situated along the dunes of Martha’s Vineyard’s South Beach and just outside the bustling yet small New England island town of Edgartown. The turn-of-the-century-styled inn topped with weatherworn shingles is set on 11 acres of landscaping that includes a great lawn, picturesque pond and waterfall. Select from the inn’s 53 suites, complete with living/dining areas and kitchens, or two family cottages, as well as one of the Mattakesett Properties’ 80 private homes and townhomes rentals.
Opened in 2000, the inn is the newest member of the Mattakesett area and takes its name from the island’s native Wampanoag tribe’s tongue: “winnetu,” meaning “beautiful.” Mattakesett Properties was developed in 1968 by Stanley and Mary Ann Snider, with Winnetu Inn developed by their son Mark, and his wife Gwenn, and the entire Snider family instilling a sense of family at the traditional New England seaside resort. The inn and homes are spread out over 40 acres and is the only resort located along the 21-mile South Beach, a quiet portion of Martha’s Vineyard southeast corner.
The resort features two heated, outdoor swimming pools, day and evening supervised programs for children, tennis, island tours and adventures, and family BBQs and clambakes. A library and board game pavilion also provides activities in the event a rainy day keeps your family off the beach, located just 250 yards away through a dune brush trail.
Our Editor Loves
- Daily kids' programs
- Beachfront location
- Rooms to accommodate large families
Rooms & Rates
The Winnetu Inn offers 53 suites that include studios and one- to four-bedroom suites with living and dining areas, full kitchens or kitchenettes with full refrigerator, two-burner stove, sink, microwave and coffeemaker. The hotel also features two private two-bedroom cottages with full kitchens, living and dining rooms, patios and grills. The Cape Pogue Cottage also features a hot tub, while the Plum Point Cottage has a fireplace.
The resort also operates single-family home and townhome rentals of 80 properties through its Mattakesett Properties. Homes vary from three to five bedrooms with two to four bathrooms. Daily housekeeping service is provided in home rentals, so you can have the feeling of home sweet home without all the chores. Some homes also allow pets.
The resort's rooms and homes include flat-screen TVs, DVD or VCR players, high-speed Internet access, iron and ironing boards, and hair dryers. The entire resort is non-smoking.
My parents and I stayed at Winnetu during a weekend to celebrate my birthday, and our experience was phenomenal from the moment we walked in. We booked a family suite (1 bedroom suite & 1 bathroom) but were upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite with 2 full baths. From the chocolate chip cookies to wine & cheese hour to the welcome chocolates and complimentary breakfast, these touches made Winnetu stand out from the rest. The complimentary shuttle into downtown Edgartown was also great as we didn’t have a car (or for those who prefer to go out on the town/not drive). To top things off, Lizzie the resort manager offered us the resort’s courtesy car so that we could drive out to the other end of the island instead of taking a pricey cab! We will definitely be returning to Winnetu during the summer - cannot recommend it more!
We love the accommodations at the hotel and associated nearby rental homes during the spring, summer and fall seasons. A bit pricey for Massachusetts, but top quality food, service, and accommodation right near Martha’s Vineyard’s famous and lovely South Beach! We’ve been coming to the Mattakesett homes every year for over 30 years and have enjoyed every visit. The newly renovated pool area at the Winnetu outdoes it’s goals and adds a luxury aspect to the resort. Highly recommended!
Mattakesett Activities Center
The heart and soul of the resort's family area, Mattakesett Activities Center offers daily, supervised children's programs, a Pirate Ship playground, basketball court, fitness center, and family swimming pool. Children ages 3 to 12 are welcome on a drop-in basis for complimentary programs that run 9 a.m. to noon. (Children must be potty trained.) Children are separated by age group: 3 to 4, 5 to 6, 7 to 8 and 9 to 12.
Evening programs ($25 and reservations required) are offered three times a week from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. for children 4 to 12. In the late afternoons, families come together for fire truck rides on the old-fashioned fire engines dating back to 1945 and 1956, as well as face painting, slip and slide on the great lawn, and cookies in the courtyard.
Mattakesett Tennis Club
The Winnetu provides two tennis courts adjacent to the inn, as well as six courts through its tennis club just up the road from the resort. Pee Wee, junior, and adult clinics are offered, as well as private lessons. Courts are open for families to enjoy, but reservations are recommended. Courts are open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Bike Rentals, Edgartown
While the Winnetu doesn't provide bike rentals, the R.W. Cutler Bike Rentals facility provides free pick-up and delivery of bike rentals to the hotel. The resort is adjacent to the Edgartown bike path, making it easy to bike the island or head into town. Complimentary bike maps are provided at concierge.
Sunset Water Taxi
Make a visit into Edgartown more fun by reserving a spot on the sunset water taxi offered on Wednesday or Saturday evenings. Guests leave the resort via the owner's very own 1929 "Woody" station wagon and cruise for 25 minutes through Katama Bay. (Returns back to the hotel are through the hotel's van shuttle that conveniently provides transportation to and from Edgartown every half hour during the evening.)
The hotel's main pool, located in the courtyard, is situated next to an outdoor grill and giant chessboard. The small pool's shallow end is 4 feet, with depths up to 9 feet. At the Mattakesett Activities Center, a rectangular pool is also available with a shallow end depth of 3 feet. A separate kiddie pool is also located here. Pools are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Lighthouse & Dune Tour
Children 5 and up -- and their parents -- can take a tour of Martha's Vineyard's Cape Pogue Lighthouse on Chappaquiddick. Offered five days a week in a morning or afternoon tour, the tour includes a shuttle to the Chappaquiddick Ferry and an open-air ride along the barrier beach and a walk up to the top of Cape Pogue Lighthouse. Snacks and beverages are provided. The tour costs $15 for children 5 to 15, and $32 for ages 16 and up.
The inn's dinner restaurant is oft visited by locals and guests of other establishments for its renowned menu, as well as its porch views of the resort lawn, beach dunes and ocean. The restaurant is open from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. nightly, with a light bar menu offered from 4 to 11 p.m. To help entertain children during meals, families are often seated on one side of the restaurant where a small children's play area has been created for coloring, reading, playing, and video watching. A children's menu is also offered.
General Store Cafe
Take out breakfast, lunch and snacks at the cafe located just off the inn's lobby. Breakfast is offered 7:30 to 10:30 a.m., lunch is offered after 11 a.m., and dinner take-out is available from 5 to 9 p.m.
Visit the inn's poolside grille for alfresco lunch daily, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dine at the outdoor tables or take out lunch, with options ranging from salads to burgers to fresh fish, as well as ever-popular smoothies for the kids.
New England Clambake on the Winnetu Lawn
Every Wednesday in the summer months, the inn's lawn fills with families for the resort's most popular weekly event. The clambake features clam chowder, lobster, BBQ chicken, hot dogs, veggies and desserts, then finishes with a flaming fire pit and S'mores. Entertainment is provided and reservations are required. The clambake doesn't come cheap: adults are $97 and children under 12 are $31 (does not include lobster); landlubbers' can eat for $75. Children under 2 are free. The event is BYOB.
Planning & Tips
All about the Extras
The resort offers a shuttle service to downtown Edgartown every hour on the half hour from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and then every half hour from 7:30 to 10 p.m. The inn is also connected to a Stop & Shop grocery store run that departs at 10:15 Monday through Saturday and returns to the hotel an hour later. With kitchens available, this is a handy service for families looking to stock up, not to mention anyone renting a home on the resort. The shuttle runs on demand, so guests must call ahead for it.
On-site laundry facilities are available at the hotel, with some suites featuring in-room washer and dryer.
Baby equipment rentals, including full-size cribs, strollers, high chairs, gates, car seats and more is available through Bear Baby Equipment Rental (877-342-2229). They provide free delivery and pickup to the hotel.
The Art of Smart Timing
With Martha's Vineyard mainly a seasonal destination, the Winnetu is open late-April through late October, with the majority of its programs offered between June and September.
Direct flights to Martha's Vineyard are offered through Boston, New York, Providence, R.I., and Washington, D.C., as well as Hyannis, Mass., on Cape Cod. Most arrive via ferry, which leave from Falmouth, Woods Hole, Hyannis, Nantucket and New Bedford, Mass., and New York City and Quonset, R.I.
For Mom and Dad
Massages can be arranged through concierge. Select Swedish, Deep Tissue, Hot Stone or other treatments right in your own room.