The Escape Artist
Life’s a Beach
The varied pleasures of Cape Cod’s largest resort.
On summer mornings, the Old King’s Highway through Cape Cod flows with a stream of out-of-state traffic, windows unrolled to the spongy Atlantic air. Pouring through Brewster, past the folksy general store and whitewashed inns, the current slows to gawp at a splendid blaze of lawn, a binge of real estate slashed from the waterfront. At its top, a manor. Beyond, the azure sea.
This is Ocean Edge, one of Cape Cod’s most frolicsome resorts. The reasons for this include—but are not limited to—its private beach, numerous pools and $8.5 million Nicklaus Design golf course. It really depends on how you like to frolic. A convincing case can be made for retreating there with a loved one, a room key and an al fresco dinner reservation for two on the terrace.
Guests have 429 acres in which to play, but start at the Mansion. Built in 1912 to replace an earlier, more flammable manse, it’s an elegant composition of leaded glass, Italian woodwork and period furnishings. The reception area is the old billiard room, and carved busts of Shakespearean characters lend it a clubby feel. Dining rooms are dressed in wood paneling and portraiture, giving breakfasts a period drama setting. Unlike meals in Downton Abbey, however, these have an emphasis on fresh baked goods instead of arch dialogue.
Downstairs, instead of working-class Britons transitioning through a period of social upheaval, you’ll find a functioning pub. Even if you’re just stopping here for a wedding—even if you’re the bride—do not miss eating a Guinness-glazed burger with bacon and fried onion strings at the bar. All the pub sandwiches are superlative, as are the local fish and chips. But the star of the resort’s dining program, arguably the star of the entire resort, is Ocean Terrace upstairs. Given the barest murmur of acceptable weather, opt to dine on the enormous outdoor patio overlooking the Atlantic. This is one of the most picturesque spots on Cape Cod Bay, with open sky and an enveloping blue horizon. Savor the view over a cocktail at the South Beach-style bar, or from a table if you can draw your attention away from dishes like swordfish with brown butter espuma.
Edwardian manors aren’t to everyone’s taste, and during the past seven years Ocean Edge invested $50 million in upgrades. The crowning addition is the Presidential Bay Collection, a cluster of villas that captures the Cape Cod aesthetic without dipping into chintz. So you get whale pictures and a nautical palette, Colonial details and custom furniture, but you never feel like the designer’s trying to recreate the ambience of a lobster-boat jetty. Every iota is deliberate, from the hue of the marble countertops to the stitching on the European shams. Villas come in various permutations of bedrooms and views, but they all involve modern kitchens, patios and quick access to the private beach.
The resort boasts about the warmth of its ocean, and with reason. During low tide, the bay’s shallow water poaches into a comfortable bouillabaisse. There are no coastal dramatics like that of the National Seashore, and the mudflats are prime territory for little marine biologists—turn the kids loose on the hermit crabs and kick back in a beach chair for an afternoon.
More adrenalized guests can use the resort’s bike shop as a starting point to explore the 26-mile Cape Cod Bike & Rail Trail. Two tennis complexes and a fitness center and cardio room provide ample activity for anyone tormented by the memory of last night’s molten chocolate lava cake. All impulses can be indulged here, even healthy ones.
That’s Ocean Edge’s specialty: the replacement of worry with impulse. You know you’re on vacation when the day’s most perplexing question is, where would you like your beach chair?
-Most of the villas are on the Villages side, which offers ideal golf access, while Mansion-side lodgings boast the private beach. Shuttles run between the resort’s two sections.
-The resort’s boutique, She Sells, stocks designer labels, gifts for wedding parties and an impressive haul of Vineyard Vines products.
-Snack cabanas are available if you need a poolside hot dog or a daiquiri, but more solid meals can be had across the street from the Arbor Pool at the Linx Tavern. Order the lobster roll.
Ocean Edge | 2907 Main St., Brewster | 508-896-9000 | oceanedge.com