Ocean House in Watch Hill, RI, is one of those stately beach hotels, the kind that leaves an indelible imprint and beckons families back summer after summer. What’s notable about Ocean House, beyond its Victorian façade, manicured grounds and oceanfront landscape, is that, if not for a tragedy, the grandeur it exudes today may never have been.
In 2003, a fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, RI, claimed the lives of 100 people. As a result, fire codes were revisited and enforced more rigorously. Ocean House, which was originally built in 1868, had over time fallen into disrepair and was found to be non-compliant with the building codes. New owners acquired the structure in 2003 and did the unthinkable: they demolished it.
But, they had a plan, and it all came to fruition when Ocean House reopened its doors last year. Note: The new owner, mutual fund manager Charles Royce, made sure that more than half of the new iteration replicated the original building (around 5,000 salvageable artifacts from the original were included). Celeb Shout: Boston Celtics’ guard Ray Allen has stayed at the resort and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough extolled Ocean House on his show, Morning Joe.
The top suites here are the Tower Suite, Penthouse Suite and the Atlantic Suite, which we stayed in during our fall visit. The 1,200-square-foot accommodation is loaded with all the tech touches (iPod docking station, two 42-inch flat-screen TVs—another smaller TV in the carpevola-marbled bathroom) one would ask for, but is careful to maintain a classic charm.
Above all, it’s the ocean views that give the Atlantic Suite its allure. It’s in the back of the building and wall-to-wall windows allow for views of the Atlantic that stretch for miles. Note: On clear days, guests can actually see all the way to Block Island, RI, and Montauk, NY. There are also two large terraces perfect for watching the sun rise or set.
We also love the four-story Tower Suite for its quirky design: It includes a widow’s walk and a 24-foot, vertical-grain fir ceiling, which opens up the space.
Contact Director of Sales and Marketing Edward Villafane ([email protected]; 401-584-7080) with accommodation-related questions.
The new Ocean House also has a new spa, OH! The Spa, with seven treatment rooms and an adjacent indoor pool that looks out onto the ocean. The deep-relaxation massage is the most requested treatment, we hear. Contact Assistant Guest Relations Manager Jessica Brandt; 401-584-7043) for spa reservations; she says to book at least a week in advance of stay. For further spa information, travel advisors can also contact Spa Director Renee Gwaltney ([email protected]; 401-584-7075).
|A Grand Luxury Villa at the Jalousie Plantation has such touches as a claw foot bathtub.|
Seasons is the resort’s signature restaurant and is known for its farm-to-table approach. Since the menu rotates, there is no signature dish, but the Harvest Menu is the restaurant’s tasting menu and a must-order for foodies. Reservations should be made 10 days in advance during high season (June to October) and through Brandt. Hint: After dinner, have a drink in the adjacent Club Room, which boasts a zinc bar, one of only 10 that exist in the U.S., we were told.
Ocean House has direct access to the beach, and a 20-minute stroll away is the Watch Hill lighthouse. Director of Guest Relations Marc Lubchansky ([email protected]; 401-584-7010) can arrange romantic outings such as a private boat tour or dinner on the beach. He can also arrange VIP tickets to concerts and events at Foxwoods.
Getting There: Private planes can land at Westerly Airport, five minutes from the resort; larger jets can be accommodated at Groton/New London Airport, 20 minutes away.
In St. Lucia, The Jalousie Plantation, Sugar Beach is set on the site of an 18th-century sugar plantation. Note: The hotel is currently in the throes of a $100 million renovation, which will see it relaunch as The Tides, Sugar Beach, under the Viceroy Hotel Group, by the end of the year.
Our source says the hotel is about 85 percent through the enhancement project, which has included the construction of new luxury villas (44 already in operation), a brand new Rainforest Spa, new restaurants (Bayside and Great Room), new bars (The Cane Bar, The Late Night Bar, Bayside Bar), the renovation of The Palm Court Lounge, and the complete tearing down and reopening of the Luxury Sugar Mill rooms.
We hear the top suites at the resort are the Grand Luxury Villas. Note: Make sure to request one with an ocean view (Nos. 503, 504, 506, 702, 704, 806 and 904). These villas are designed in classic plantation style with hardwood floors throughout. French windows in the living rooms open out onto spacious verandahs with private sundecks and plunge pools. Hint: Nine two-bedroom Grand Luxury Villas can also be configured. Note: Any Luxury Villa reservation comes with private butler service. Luxury travel advisors can contact House Manager Leonard Reynolds or Associate Director of Sales Molly McDaniel.
The new 9,427-square-foot Rainforest Spa opened in December and features tree house treatment rooms, an Amerindian steam dome and a specialist skin care clinic perched along a stream in the tropical forest. We hear that outdoor massages are a must and that Lucita is highly recommended (we’ve also been told that Vernanka is highly touted for facials). Treatments should be booked three weeks out to guarantee times. Travel advisors can reach out to Director of Health and Wellness Julia Leone, who can tell you about the spa’s signature Sulphur Seduction treatment (hint: it involves a mud bath and trip to the volcanic sulphur springs).
There are six restaurant and bar outlets at the resort. The Great Room is known for fine dining and fresh ingredients (think Kobe beef and seared scallops) and Bayside Restaurant for casual, on-the-beach dining.
Beach ceremony weddings are huge at Jalousie Plantation (contact Shantal Solomon, director of groups and events, at [email protected]) and engagements memorable. Just ask Head Concierge Theresa Blaize, who, on one occasion, worked with the resort’s water sports team to plant the engagement ring at a point along the beach to assist the would-be groom with a sunset proposal. The couple was also given an upgrade to a Grand Luxury Villa.
Getting There: Fly clients into Hewanorra International Airport (40 minutes away from the resort), where luxury car transfers can be arranged.
|The Atlantic Suite at Ocean House has views all the way to Montauk, NY.|