Setting a New Definition of Luxury: Weekapaug Inn – A New England Seaside Family Retreat Where Time Stands Still
Imagine a time when families from urban centers around the northeast gathered for an annual pilgrimage to the seaside – where the only sounds were of lapping waters, marsh grasses rustling in the breeze, bird song and the laughter of camaraderie as epic battles of lawn games like bocce and shuffleboard were fought and won. The Weekapaug Inn on Rhode Island’s coast has been playing host to such memories for more than 100 years, and now the century old Inn is better than ever.
A new era of simple luxury and genuine hospitality has been ushered in by the renovation of the Weekpaug. The Inn, originally built in 1899 by Frederick Buffum on a beachfront location, was moved to a more sheltered site on the western shore of a great salt pond after it was damaged by a hurricane in 1938. After hosting decades of guests, the Inn closed in 2007 much to the dismay of its loyal visitors. In 2010, Ocean House Hotel owner Chuck Royce partnered with Weekapaug resident Lang Wheeler to restore the Inn. Their goal, to preserve the architectural integrity of the Inn while creating a year-round low-key luxury retreat.
Wheeler and Royce can claim success, as in the first full year of operation, the Weekapaug Inn was recognized by Preserve Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission and was designated a Relais & Chateaux property. “A great deal of thought was put into historic preservation as well as utilizing as many environmentally sensitive building techniques as possible” said Antonia Korosec, Innkeeper at the Weekapaug. Some of these careful considerations included a prize-winning landscape restoration employing indigenous coastal plantings such as hydrangea and beach rose, geothermal heating/cooling and the use of crushed shells rather than pavement on the driveway.
There are very few hotels in New England that have managed to perfect the art of understated elegance both in design and service – the Weekapaug has done just that. Rooms are traditionally decorated yet are not staid and feature oversized windows with water views, simple moldings, local art, bathrooms with heated towel racks, and luxury amenities. Each room also features a vintage piece from the “old” Inn. In the pantry on the 3rd floor of the Inn, complementary beverages and snacks are always available and the dining room features locally sourced artisanal food and a menu inspired by the seasons. To preserve the serenity of the setting, there are no televisions in the room, however, there are a plethora of other activities to keep families busy.
The location of the Inn on a calm salt pond is perfect for boating, and Mark, the naturalist in residence and Director of Recreation is always available to outfit guests with bicycles, various watercraft (including a kayak, stand up paddle board, pedal boat, sail boat, rowing shell) or take visitors for a guided walk on the beach. Each day features activities from yoga to jewelry making – something for everyone in the family.
The Weekapaug owners and staff have succeeded in preserving the best of the past, while providing contemporary comforts. Only 1.5 hours from Boston and 2.5 hours from New York City, the Weekapaug is located in the peaceful residential enclave of Weekapaug (technically the Weekapaug Fire District), part of the town of Westerly, Rhode Island. The Inn itself sits on Quonochontaug Pond and is within easy walking distance of a beautiful undeveloped barrier beach. www.weekapauginn.com