by Meryl Pearlstein
Set on a bluff overlooking the town of Watch Hill, Ocean House is a meticulous, $149-million recreation of the original 1868 hotel of the same name. While it has decidedly 21st-century luxuries and conveniences, it conveys the mood of an earlier era, when its namesake was the last of eight grand Watch Hill resorts built during the area’s heyday, which lasted into the 1920s.
Capturing the former Ocean House’s grand New England ambience, this much-lauded resort has incorporated the original reception desk, elevator cab and lobby fireplace, as well as many artifacts, to create a historic feeling. It invites exploration with public spaces and hallways lined with prints and paintings from the owner’s personal collection, with notable originals from Ludwig Bemelmans and Tony Sarg. Guests can linger in the bright and airy lounge areas with overstuffed chairs, a grand piano and high ceilings. The luxe and comfy 49 guest rooms and fourteen signature suites (including the Ocean House Penthouse Suite) are individually decorated, all with lithographs and photographs of times past. Oceanfront rooms, some with outdoor terraces, offer breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Resort cuisine focuses on locally sourced ingredients, with seafood and produce a highlight on the menus at the bistro, Seasons fine dining restaurant, private club room and outdoor venues. The chef’s counter is a draw for foodies, with its four-hour culinary experience on weekends. The Sunday jazz brunch is yet another highlight, an elegant affair with a parade of food stations and a signature Bloody Mary bar.
A comprehensive spa features a saltwater pool, well-equipped gym and yoga/exercise room with video classes. Spa treatments mirror the culinary philosophy of the resort, changing with the seasons and utilizing local ingredients. An extensive program of resort activities recalls the original Ocean House’s heritage of providing leisure pastimes for guests who often stayed for months on end. Movies, croquet, tai chi, cooking classes and themed dining events fill the schedule.
As for the surrounding area, guests can begin their explorations at the resort’s expansive beach. This stretch of sand is a haven for beachcombing, offering the promise of beautiful shells and sea glass. And although a car isn’t a requirement to reach the resort because of its convenient proximity to Amtrak’s Westerly station and Providence’s T. F. Green airport, it can come in handy for day trips. Of note is the coastal drive north to discover the area’s many distinctive mansions, which will give guests an idea of what life was like when the Ocean House first opened its doors.
1 Bluff Ave.
Westerly, RI 02891
You can click on each photo to enlarge.