If you love the wind in your face: You’ll love the Ocean Course. And if you don’t, you’ll still marvel at Pete Dye’s true links-style design.
One of the plushly appointed sitting rooms off the lobby of the Sanctuary Hotel on South Carolina’s Kiawah Island
Tall order: A wall of windows brings the outside in at Twenty-Eight Atlantic, Wequassett’s fine-dining restaurant.
Cape Cod: Making Memories by the Bay
If Cape Cod National Golf Club seems more the private retreat than a typical resort course, that’s because it is, in fact, a private club. The course is open only to members—and to guests at the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club. As a result, the ambience is decidedly warm and chummy, a place that serves as a second home for golf-loving Cape Cod residents, but is welcoming to visitors from the resort.
Like most courses on Cape Cod, this one is relatively flat. But what Cape Cod National lacks in contours, it makes up for in strategically placed bunkers and water hazards. This is a layout that requires a high degree of accuracy with pretty much every club in your bag. Yet the course is not likely to intimidate even the occasional golfer, perhaps because of its calming, woodsy setting and the soothing breezes from the nearby bay.
The club is about a 15-minute shuttle ride from Wequassett, an intimate resort tucked away on Pleasant Bay in the village of Chatham. The resort has just 120 guest rooms and suites in 22 low-rise buildings on 28 meticulously landscaped acres.
Wequassett—the Wampanoag Indian word for crescent on the bay—first opened as a three-bedroom boarding house in 1944. It became a full-fledged resort in 1977; a recent $40 million renovation and expansion resulted in additional luxury accommodations and amenities. Still, Wequassett has not sacrificed its New England cedar-shingled charm and it has only stepped up its commitment to service. Indeed, this is a place with a full-time “Memory Maker,” an employee whose job is to learn the interests of individual guests so the resort can best cater to their needs.
The resort’s heart is the large, waterfront pool, set on a terrace overlooking Pleasant Bay and Round Cove. Guests can lounge by the pool or indulge in a cabana for the day or half-day. (Spa services are available in the cabanas.) A fitness center and well-equipped changing rooms are located just steps away.
For more active guests, Wequassett also has an adults-only lap pool and a tennis center with four Har-Tru courts, each lit for night-time play. Another favorite Cape Cod activity is bicycling. Wequassett guests can rent bikes in nearby Orleans and enjoy hours of scenic cycling on the Cape Cod Rail Trail.
Wequassett offers three levels of accommodations, starting with the Garden Villas. The larger cottage-style rooms feature custom linens, water views and working fireplaces. The all-new Signature Suites are unusually spacious and beautifully appointed. Each has digital controls for all lighting, cooling and audio/video systems. Some add private outdoor hot tubs.
The dining experience at Wequassett is headlined by Twenty-Eight Atlantic, where chef James Hackney’s menu emphasizes local seafood. Other dining options include the pub-like Thoreau’s and the poolside Outer Bar for more casual meals. The appetizers at the Outer Bar are especially diverse and palate-pleasing.
Wequassett is located at the edge of Chatham, the Cape’s loveliest resort village. The resort shuttle can take you into Chatham, with its ample eateries and endless browsing at the boutiques, galleries and gift shops along Main Street. Downtown dining options include the upscale Impudent Oyster; the fun and funky Chatham Squire; and the Wild Goose Tavern, where outdoor tables give you a front-row seat to Chatham’s passing parade.
Dining choices abound throughout the Cape. Some easily accessible favorites: Campari’s for family-style Italian; Orleans Lobster Pound for pocket-pleasing casual seafood; Joe’s Bar in East Orleans for its fun tavern atmosphere and huge menu. Or head 45 minutes further out the Cape to Wellfleet and check out long-time casual favorites like Mac’s Shack and Moby Dick’s.
Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, 800-225-7125; wequassett.com. Villas in peak season from $550 per night, cottage-style rooms from $735, suites from $1,100.
Kiawah Island: High Life in the Low Country
At the Sanctuary Hotel on Kiawah Island, off Charleston, South Carolina, the floorboards in the vast, high-ceilinged lobby and adjoining sitting rooms are designed to squeak. Not all the time, just every so often, wistfully evoking the floors presumed in Low Country mansions of centuries past. The Sanctuary, the centerpiece of Kiawah Island Golf Resort, is only eight years old, but it’s built to look and feel like a grand old bastion of Southern hospitality, which it is—yet equipped with state-of-the-art spa, WiFi, upscale restaurants, multiple swimming pools, tennis and oodles of awesome golf.
The squeaking planks are walnut, hand-planed and cut to irregular lengths and widths. Instead of being laid over concrete, the planks were set on spaced risers, ensuring a slight amount of give and the occasional “What was that?”
For its part, Kiawah Island doesn’t have to strain for authenticity. Roughly half the barrier island’s 10,000 acres are protected salt marsh, tidal creeks, ponds, lakes and lagoons, and half the high ground has been set aside for conservation, parks or recreational uses. Kiawah (KEE-a-wah) has only about 1,200 year-round residents, who are joined by innumerable bobcats, alligators, otters, loggerhead turtles and more than 200 species of birds and waterfowl.
From spring to fall, birds aren’t the only things flying through the air. Lots of little white balls soar over Kiawah Resort’s five beautifully situated golf courses, including the famed Ocean Course, where the PGA Championship, the last major of the year, will be held in August. Designed by the masterful (some would say diabolical) Pete Dye, the Ocean Course is wild and windswept, with sea views and mind-bending challenges. Resort guests also may tee it up at Turtle Point, its subtle contours designed by Jack Nicklaus; Osprey Point, a sweeping Tom Fazio layout that winds through lakes, marsh and century-old stands of palmetto palms and magnolia; the Gary Player-designed Cougar Point, which sidles up to the Kiawah River and ends with a dramatic par-four 18th hole; and Oak Point, designed by Clyde Johnston, built on an old indigo and cotton plantation and perhaps the most fun to play of the bunch.
In addition to the hotel, Kiawah Resort offers accommodations at hundreds of privately owned villas and single-family homes. You may want to rent a car to get to Kiawah from Charleston (about 21 miles) and to get around the island if you don’t feel like waiting for the Resort shuttle. For those who fall in love with Kiawah, which is not hard to do, luxurious single-family homes as well as undeveloped home sites are for sale. Some of those homes and lots come with membership in the exclusive Kiawah Island Club, which has its own private beach club and pool, restaurants, classes, tennis, events and two world-class golf courses of its own—Tom Fazio’s River Course, and Cassique, a linksy layout by five-time British Open champion Tom Watson.
The Sanctuary Hotel, 800-576-1570; kiawahresort.com. Rooms in peak season from $270 per night, villas from $205, homes from $530. For information on residential properties, Kiawah Island Real Estate, kiawahisland.com. For information on the Kiawah Island Club, kiawahislandclub.com.