Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Nantucket Interlude

Over the Labor Day long weekend Boy and I decamped to Nantucket for a leisurely end-of-summer getaway.  That meant not only a vacation from the workaday world for Reggie, but also a respite from his regular blogging, Dear Reader.  I purposely didn't take my laptop with me on our Nantucket sojourn.

It was really rather liberating not to be hooked into the blogosphere during our visit to the island.  But it was also rather maddening, as I can't remember the last time I've gone a full five days without having the opportunity to tap away at my computer, doing this and that.

The entrance to the Cliffside's clubhouse

We stayed at the Cliffside Beach Club & Hotel, an intimate private club and hotel right on the beach, about a mile outside of the town of Nantucket.

We didn't rent a house on the island this year because I procrastinated doing so until long after the last berth was booked on the car ferries to and from the island during the month of August.  No berth = no car on island = an impossibility when one rents a house out of town, as we have done in years past.  Believe me, that is not going to happen again next year!

The Cliffside Beach Club in the 1930s
Image courtesy of Vintage Photo Works

We more than consoled ourselves this season, however, with a visit to the Cliffside Beach Club & Hotel.  The Cliffside has been around for a long time, more than one hundred years.  I'm not sure when they added hotel rooms to it, but I'm glad they did.  There are only twenty-seven guest rooms at the hotel, and it retains an intimacy that is most appealing.

An aerial view of the Cliffside Beach Club & Hotel today
Image courtesy of same

The Cliffside has a wonderfully old-fashioned look.  Very beachy.  Very New England.  Very Nantucket.  We loved it.

The view out to sea from the club's entrance

While the Cliffside is considered to be a luxury boutique hotel, one doesn't go there expecting a Ritz-Carlton, full-dawg resort experience.  There are no pool boys running around spritzing guests with Evian filled atomizers as they loll on chaise longues.  It's very low key—one spritzes oneself.

The covered loggia at the Cliffside,
perfect for admiring the ocean view

I'd say that the level of service at the Cliffside is up to any of the five star hotels I've stayed in, and there have been many, Dear Reader.  The Cliffside is intentionally understated and informal.  It's an American beach hotel.

The guest rooms and public rooms are purposely plain and straightforward, carefully retaining an informal, beachy feel.  Very well-appointed and comfortable, indeed, but not self-consciously so.

The lobby/great room at the Cliffside
Image courtesy of same

There is a small café at the hotel that serves a continental breakfast.  Food can also be ordered from from the restaurant next door (more on that later).

The beach at the Cliffside, set with umbrellas and chairs for members and guests
Image courtesy of CocoCozy

The Cliffside is famous for its colorful beach umbrellas, which are put up every sunny day during the season on the club's private beach.

The umbrellas are carefully placed and spaced along the shore every morning by the very helpful and accommodating beach staff.

The Cliffside's beach boys
Image courtesy of Facebook

The club's beach boys are more than happy to provide the Cliffside's members and guests with lounge chairs, boogie boards, and towels throughout the day.  It's all very cushy, comfy, and just so.

A view of the Cliffside Beach Club's umbrellas in the 1950s
Image courtesy of NHA

The Cliffside makes every effort to ensure that its guests have a pleasant, relaxing visit.  I was pleased to learn that cellphones are prohibited in the club's public areas and on the beach.

In addition to being in a fabulous location right on the beach, the Cliffside has all sorts of facilities for the enjoyment of its guests.  It has two marvelous swimming pools (one for paddling around in and one for serious lap swimming), and also an inviting, bubbling hot spa pool.  One can get massages and other treatments at the Cliffside, and it also has a very well-equipped gym.  Reggie looked in the door at the gym once during his visit, and was impressed by it, but he didn't actually use it.

Although we enjoyed spending time on the beach during our stay at the Cliffside, we spent more time in the pool area of the club.

The Cliffside's pool area was quieter and less windy than the beach during our end-of-summer visit.  And—more importantly—it had direct access to the club's café service, so daytime cocktails were but a telephone call away . . .

The ever-helpful Vanessa, provider of cocktails
and other comestibles

. . . and delivered by the charming and amusing Vanessa, who was all too happy to serve us whenever the need for beverages and snacks arose.  Which was often, I might add, Dear Reader.

The "morning" towel

One of the things that impressed us about the Cliffside was the attention to detail.  At the pool area they change out the towels every day at mid-day with a differently striped towel for use during the afternoon.  We liked that.

The "afternoon" towel

One of the great pleasures of the Cliffside is its proximity to the Galley Beach Restaurant.  "The Galley," as it is known, sits on the same property as the Cliffside and provides room service to the hotel's guests.  The Galley is one of the more expensive restaurants on the island and draws a glamorous, well-tended crowd.  Patrons run the gamut from carefully preserved matrons carrying lightship basket handbags, Hedge Fund families bedecked in Lilly and Nantucket Reds, and international jet-set types just off the enormous boats that line the Nantucket Harbor during the summer season.  It is the Swifty's of the island, as Boy has often remarked.

The Galley Beach Restaurant, as seen from the Cliffside's entrance

The Galley is one of our favorite restaurants on Nantucket.  Last year, we ate lunch there three or four times during each of the two weeks we spent on the island.

Matches and the card from the Galley

The Galley has a terrific raw bar during the day, and the restaurant's food is delicious, inventive, and . . . comforting.  They have an extensive wine list, and also mix very tasty cocktails.  The staff is friendly, welcoming, and extremely well trained.  The Galley gets it more than right—in fact, it is pretty much perfection, in my view.

One has the option of dining outside or inside at the Galley.  We generally prefer to dine inside, out of the sun's direct rays, in the restaurant's breezy, open-air main dining room.

The Galley's dining room has views both of the hotel and the ocean.  It is a marvelous place to go during sunset, when one is assured of having a front-row seat to the summer's sun setting over the ocean—a rare treat here on the East Coast of America. 

The beachside view from the Galley's main dining room

We ate all but one of our lunches at the Galley during our stay at the Cliffside.  We didn't feel the need to go anywhere else.  Why should we, when the Galley is such perfection?

We did muster leaving the compound for several dinners in town, though.  I would highly recommend Dune for its inventive, beautifully presented locavore fare; Ventuno for its superb Italian/world cuisine; and Cru for the freshest-of-the-fresh seafood.  (Cru occupies the choice harborside location, right at the tip of Straight Wharf, of the former and decidedly inferior Rope Walk.)  Thank you, PVE, for recommending Cru on your charming blog—it was because of you that we went there.

A view of the Cliffside from above, taken on our last day on Nantucket

And with that, Dear Reader, I conclude this post about our extended Labor Day weekend visit to the island of Nantucket, a place that I first visited as a very small boy nearly fifty years ago.

Please note: Reggie has not received anything in return for his review of the Cliffside Beach Club & Hotel or of the Galley Beach Restaurant, and he does not expect to do so.  He has written this post entirely for the enjoyment of his readers, which is the sole purpose of this blog.

All photographs, except where noted, were taken by Reggie on his BlackBerry


  1. You know, we've always been a Vineyard and Cape family, rather than Nantucket. But I do believe you may have given me reason to venture beyond. That looks like the beach hotel I've been hunting for all my life. Wonderful. And such photos. Thank you!

    1. Dearest LP: Thank you -- I hope you do get the chance to visit Nantucket and stay at the Cliffside one day. You will certainly enjoy it. Reggie

  2. Dear Reggie,
    I enjoyed this post. I particularly like the idea of the distinctive morning and the afternoon towels.
    I must say that I never realised that part of America would have such a Mediterranean look to it. I always pictured the coast there to look cold and slightly uninviting but I see it is otherwise.

    1. Hello Kirk Dale, Thank you for your comment and welcome to RD. The island of Nantucket is ringed with beautiful white, sandy beaches, which is one of its (many) charms. Many people remark that the Cliffside Beach Club and Galley Beach restaurant compound area reminds them of Saint-Tropez, and it does have that feel about it at times. RD

  3. Hello Reggie:
    This does all sound very goodly indeed. From the amusing Vanessa tending to your every need to the towel changing, this is clearly a wonderful place to stay and to feel totally cosseted, just what one needs for a relaxing holiday.

    We have never been to Nantucket in particular or the United States in general and it remains a dear wish of ours to visit one day. Whatever, we shall retain this post as a marvellous directory of where to go if we should, fortunately, find ourselves in the vicinity.

    1. Dear J&LH: Get thee on a plane next summer, and high thee to Nantucket! I suggest a visit to New York City or Boston first, and then a quick flight to Nantucket for a long weekend. You will not regret it! Reggie

    2. Ah, that would be hie.

  4. I felt relaxed just looking at these photos. Cliffside understands that luxury does not necessarily equal ostentation. I love the 50’s picture with the beach umbrellas; I can't imagine why they switched to plain ones, unless they got tired of guests falling into hypnotic trances.

    1. Hello Parnassas: You nailed it! Luxury does not necessarily equate to ostentation. I, too, think a return of the 50s umbrellas would be lovely, although the ones they have today are quite handsome, too. Reggie

  5. The Cliffside sounds like just what I need Reggie. The attention to detail is so importnt wherever I stay when traveling.

    Art by Karena

    1. Thank you, Kerena, I am sure you will love the Cliffside if you stay there. Rgds, Reggie

  6. Just my kind of place! Particularly when I saw the sign banning cell phones on the beach.

    Seems to me dear Reggie that you more than made up for the lapse in making a reservation on the ferry. I have never been to Nantucket and every year around this time I say I will. Maybe next so I can come and cook you and Boy another meal...with scraps for Pompey. BTW, did you bring him???

  7. Lovely place, I especially liked the lobby, you get a sense of how honest it all is in spite of the decorative flair, must have been very relaxing and fun!

  8. It sounds just lovely! So glad you enjoyed your respite from the everyday!

  9. How completely lovely and civilized!

    There is still hope! Taste, understated elegance! Beauty and appropriateness !!

    What a delightful trip!!!

  10. 1. LFG took her first steps on Nantucket.

    2. I just gave you and your "retail red" self a mention over at my blog pile.

    3. "Part III" of the saga better be forthcoming. Soon.

  11. Here's a comment that a reader, named REME33, sent me via email:

    My husband and I innocently wandered onto the Cliffside resort beach one year. It's right next to Jetties Beach if I remember correctly. We were attracted to the bright blue umbrellas and wandered into the most simply elegant lobby ever. After letting us peruse the place a man came up to us and very politely explained it was a private resort (in other words 'scram'). We have always vowed to go back and stay at that charming resort we got 'kicked out' of :)

    PS. How do I get past Recaptcha. It's like a brain teaser!

    1. Hello REME33, thank you for your comment and sharing your experience at the Cliffside. As far as Recaptcha goes, I am only now just learning about it myself, having encountered it for the first time only yesterday. I wish that Blogger would stop making "improvements" without explaining what they are ahead of time! Reggie

  12. Hey Reggie, What a cool blog you have. I really like your tastes. I just added yours to my blog roll. Best, -NH

  13. Reggie,
    Next time, may I suggest you travel in style aboard "The Enticer" rather than stay in a hotel or a house. I am delighted to hear about your lovely vacation which sounds not only marvelous but also invigorating to unplug. Glad you enjoyed Cru.

  14. It sounds like you both had a fab. time.

    The old umbrella picture reminded me of Sydney beaches in the afternoons when the famous southerly buster (a big wind) would send the umbrellas tumbling along the sand.

    Can't wait for Marta part three

  15. I was just in Nantucket at the beginning of August for four glorious days. It was my girlfriend's first visit, and we stayed with my aunt (who lives there year round). Some of the best places to go on the island are outside of town. Millie's in Madaket is a great spot for lunch, and the Hen House just outside of town near the Stop and Shop is great for breakfast. Have you been to the brewery/winery/distillery? A great little spot in Cisco to spend an afternoon and, according to my aunt, the cheapest place on the island in the summer to get a drink.

  16. Dear Reggie, I truly enjoy your blog, which I found through Pigtown Design. It has actually inspired me to start my own little blog. This trip sounds amazing. I have always wanted to visit Nantucket, and now I know where I want to stay when I get the chance to go! Thanks!

  17. Great post and many thanks for stating that you paid full price for your stay. I'm tired of reading those blogs which endlessly plug various hotels and products and don't bother to state that they got a 'freebie' in return for writing it up.



  18. Reggie, Tuesday, Sept. 11's Part III of your "saga" appears to be missing critical parts. Such a tease! Can you fix?

  19. Reggie: Having not rented a house on Nantucket since 1993, I was shocked. Shocked, I say. We ate at the Galley in about 1990 or 91 and it was a seedy little restaurant with totally unmemorable dinner menu, a private beach clubby atmosphere which reminded me of the casual (read: rundown) waspy beach clubs of 1950's Connecticut where I spent my childhood. I recall at the time remarking to my husband that such a lovely spot should do more with itself. Now, I see they have, so bravo to Cliffside. We'll have to go back! The challenges of travel to Nantucket with what were two very young children at the time, the issues with obtaining a car ferry reservation even 6 months in advance and the increasingly LA-LA-Land tone of downtown Nantucket scared us away, but now I'm thinking that an early fall weekend at the Cliffside might be just what the doctor ordered. We have, in fact, a friend who has decided to extend her stay at their summer house in 'Sconset through September. Lucky lady; indulgent husband. Oh, and a word to your European readers and those of us on this side of the Atlantic who dream of trips to the Riviera (perhaps unnecessarily, since you seem to cater to a fairly tony crowd): 25 or so years ago, my dear husband and I went on as elegant a European honeymoon as any successful yuppy could imagine. We made the mistake of spending almost half of it at a hotel on the Riviera. While the room was elegant, the pool wonderful and the restaurant memorable, the beach was totally unappealing by American standards and the water of the Mediterranean revolting. I hope environmental regulations have resulted in cleaner water, but the bottom line is that there is nothing to compare to our good old US of A beaches and those of the caribbean islands. Parenthetically speaking, I had always imagined an elegant resort and clean refreshing water reminiscent of the beach scene in "To Catch a Thief." I looked for Cary Grant but never found him.

  20. Oh. Oh. Oh. I want to go. Feeling very stagnant in the Midwest. Sigh.

  21. Thanks for the share. Glad you had a great time! My family and I rent one of those beautiful Nantucket Rental homes by the water every year and we love it. Did you get a chance to go out and explore the town at all? If not you are so missing out!


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