Perched high atop a hill, nestled snugly between heirloom summer estates in the historic hamlet of Watch Hill, is the iconic Ocean House. A triple five star Relais & Chateaux— visually cued by it’s victorian architecture and french lunette entry, canary yellow exterior and gilded white trim.
The hotel was originally built in 1868, following the Civil War – it operated as a seaside retreat for over 135 and played host to some of the world’s most renowned families. Sadly, like many historic structures time took it’s toll on the iconic yellow hotel and in 2003 the original structure was torn down and rebuilt due to structural damages beyond repair. Thankfully preservationist and Investor Charles Royce was able to prevent other developers from turning the plot of land into private estates and worked diligently with the town of Westerly, the State of Rhode Island and additional investors, advocates and consultants to reconstruct the hotel to honor it’s rich history.
Depending on the season, a variety of resort activities are available. Throughout the year you can experience fine dining at Coast — a restaurant helmed by Chef Jennifer Backman, or relax at OH! Spa with a luxurious massage, facial or body treatment. Head downstairs to the wine cellar to explore a variety of classes offered by the CWCA (Center for Wine and Culinary Arts) or explore the property outdoors — where seasonally you can enjoy a game of croquet on the lawn, a seat on one of the many decks and terraces, or a walk on the beach.
In my company this weekend is my mother Linda. We check-in early at noon and are shown to our room. While waiting for our bags we’re offered a glass of champagne, which graciously we accept as we settle in and begin exploring the amenities of our suite.
The rooms which were redesigned in early 2017, are inspired by the colors of the “sea, sand and sky”. A simple yet elegant hallway leads into our room, which features two full beds with delicate linens, a comfortable lounge area with both ocean and harbor views, a flat screen television, a stocked and complimentary bar as well as a beautifully appointed bath.
The bath is wrapped in white subway tile and features accents in Carpevola marble. A large vanity sprawls the length of the room and features double sinks and mirrors as well as modern ‘luxe’ hardware and fixtures. The walk-in shower boasts a smooth river stone floor and a deep soaking tub transforms this space into the perfect place to relax after a long day exploring the hotel and town.
The fine details are a key part of what makes the stay so special. From personalized monogrammed bed pillows, live harp & piano in the grand room to an evening ‘turn down’ service — the real luxuries are found in the littlest gestures.
On our agenda is a wine class and tasting through the Center for Wine and Culinary Arts. Director and Sommelier Erin Swain introduces us to the Ocean House’s million dollar wine cellar where we are seated at an intimate round table with four other guests.
Our tasting starts with The Palm, a Rose by Whispering Angel —one of many wines we sample. The class is informative and inspiring. Swain’s whit and delivery on the topic offers a breath of fresh air to an often “stuffy”subject, providing us ‘non-soms’ with an opportunity to learn about wine culture in a relaxed environment.
Over the course of a few hours strangers become friends and our Sommelier tells us more about her unique journey to becoming one of few female Sommeliers on the eastern seaboard.
But s’il vous plaît — don’t ask me to explain the difference between tartaric and malic acid in wines and what it means for a wine to have legs! Swain tells us the easiest way to pretend you know what you’re taking about during a wine tasting is to put on your “poker face” and follow these steps… Sniff, swirl, sniff, sip, pause — look into the glass sparingly and exclaim “it has good structure”.
Everyone at the table is in stitches!
After the class we return to our suite and ready ourselves for dinner. We start with drinks in the bar / lounge. A roaring fire in one of the hotels many chimney’s warms the room as we observe other guests coming and going, some wearing casual attire and others; like ourselves dressed up just enough to pay homage to the hotels grandeur.
Personally, I enjoy the opportunity to dress up and delight in the idea of escaping the casualness of 2018. As live piano is being played just across the room you can envision a bygone era. A time when gentlemen wore suits and smoked fine cigars while drinking Glenmorangie and the women sipped champagne while wearing their finest pearls.
That’s the beauty of the Ocean House— it invokes a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’— a sense of nobility and luxury, exuding from even its most casual corners.
We opt for an early dinner at the Bistro. For starters, the New England clam chowder and a caesar salad. For entree’s: the halibut with oven roasted potatoes and the lamb ravioli accompanied by artisanal vegetables.
At 8pm we schedule room service to turn down the beds— and they leave behind a bag of bath salts and lavender spray as well as a chocolate on our pillows.
In the morning we brunch over looking the ocean. A large variety of a-la-carte items are available from fresh shrimp and oysters to salads, deserts and even a made to order crepe station. There is something to please everyone. In addition to the a-la-carte selection we choose an item from the main menu. Like mother like daughter, we both choose the lobster Mac & Cheese. Neither of us were disappointed.
Sunday “Jazz” brunch is available to the public via reservation. —and it comes with my highest recommendation.
After brunch we’re off to OH! Spa for some pampering. The spa features a menu that changes seasonally and features several treatment rooms and offers services such as massage, skincare, body treatments as well as hair and nail services. Additionally a heated lap pool and exercise center over look the ocean.
We wind down in the relaxation room — a multi-level space reminiscent of an Italian Villa. Sink into R&R in one of the spa’s over stuffed chaise lounges before heading out into town for a day of shopping.
On your way out you’ll notice the Ocean House’s retail boutique. A highly curated showcase of local luxury brands such as Lily Pulitzer and Kiel James Patrick. A great place to grab a chic souvenir.
Just steps from the hotel is the quaint seaside town of Watch Hill. Which during the height of the season will be bustling with residents and weekenders alike – looking to enjoy the benefits of the salt air as well as a plethora of restaurants, boutiques and beaches.
Upon our departure a valet retrieved the car and our bags were brought down from our room. I was smitten to discover two water bottles placed in our cupholders for the drive home as well as a thank you letter and Ocean House magazine. Just another piece of evidence to prove this is hospitality at it’s finest.
If you decide to make the Ocean House a memory for you and a loved one this season, (April 1st – May 15th) you can enjoy $100 resort credit which can be used towards a spa treatment or food & beverage of your choice as well as the opportunity to experience a private 30 minute cooking class in the Center for Wine & Culinary Arts. Luxurious accommodations include a Deluxe or Terrace Water View Room — For more information about this Spring Special, visit The Ocean House website.
Please call 888.552.2588 for rates and availability. You can visit Ocean House RI and the OHM Collection on the web here.
This post was sponsored by Ocean House RI. All opinions are my own. This post does not contain affiliate links.