Mike Cohen travels to Cape Cod: Chatham

In the affluent Cape Cod town of Chatham, visitors are drawn to the expansive and magnificent beaches, the lighthouse, wildlife, nature trails, bike path, and stunning views of the ocean. Chatham (www.chathaminfo.com) has a special blend of the past and present with quaint streets lined with historic sea captains’ homes, a fine selection of historic museums, and a walking downtown area with unique shops, galleries, and restaurants.

Lodging options range from a spectacular oceanfront resort like the Chatham Bars Inn, to lovely bed and breakfast inns tucked in throughout this picturesque seaside village.

Chatham is located on the elbow of Cape Cod surrounded on three sides by water. Located halfway between Falmouth and Provincetown, it extends out to sea as the most easterly point in Massachusetts. Once a quiet farming and fishing community, Chatham has become a vibrant tourist destination. Rich in its maritime heritage, as well as a spirited New England town with a variety of small businesses, Chatham is a special place for year-round residents and visitors alike.

Chatham Bars Inn (www.chathambarsinn.com) is a gorgeous property catering to a very affluent clientele. I had the opportunity to tour the facility and then spend the day at their private beach and enjoy lunch at their Beach House Grill.

The Chatham Bars Inn has been an idyllic Cape Cod family vacation retreat noted for its excellent service, fine cuisine and beautiful surroundings since 1914. The Inn is nestled near the heart of Chatham on 25 beautifully landscaped acres overlooking Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

This world-famous turn-of-the-century landmark has a remarkable ambiance. The expansive lounge, front veranda and main dining room have been returned to their original grandeur, affording panoramic ocean views and gentle sea breezes. If you’re looking for boat charters on Cape Cod, you’ll love the top-notch fleet operated by Chatham Bars Inn. A variety of luxury boats offer unforgettable Cape Cod experiences. Memorable and unique boating excursions offered by Chatham Bars Inn include Cape Cod sunset cruises on Pleasant Bay, big game sport fishing, sailing tours, family activities, and private charters to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. You’ll also love their Cape Cod sailing packages, including the popular Cape Cod Sunset Cruises Package.

In addition to popular Cape activities such as golf, tennis, fishing, water sports, and bird watching, guests also enjoy summer beachfront theme dinners, spa treatments, and an array of children’s programs and family activities: everything you need for a summer vacation in Cape Cod. Most important, the grand tradition of relaxing in casual, unhurried comfort continues year-round at this historic Cape Cod vacation resort.

In 2007, Chatham Bars Inn completed a $14 million upgrade to the resort, including guestrooms, landscaping, dining and public facilities. They also added the Japanese gardens and a year-round relaxation pool at The Spa at Chatham Bars Inn.

In 2006 Capital Properties, the New York-based residential and commercial real estate development and management firm purchased the property for $166 million. The transaction marked the first venture into hospitality real estate for Capital Properties. “This year-round landmark resort holds a lot of personal significance for me,” said Richard Cohen, founder and president of Capital Properties. “I grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts and continue to maintain offices in Boston, so my ties to the East Coast remain strong, as does my commitment to maintaining the charm and integrity of this historic gem.”

A noted Historic Hotel of America and a member property of Leading Hotels of the World, Chatham Bars Inn is New England’s celebrated oceanfront resort and a classic Cape Cod landmark. Consistently maintained and updated since its initial construction in 1914, the historic Main Inn sits gracefully atop a seaside bluff, offering spectacular views of Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic. Two hundred and seventeen distinctively appointed guestrooms occupy this main building, including 68 sumptuous suites, each designed to preserve an elegant turn-of-the-century ambiance. There are 34 quaint Cape-style cottages offering guests an exceptional level of privacy and housing luxurious guestrooms and master suites.

Renowned as an ultimate, year-round getaway, the Inn offers a variety of meeting and banquet facilities ideal for lavish destination weddings or other special events, as well as extensive conference space equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual technology. Celebrated local caterers and professional event planners wrap up every necessary detail.

A Visitor Information Center is located in the town-owned David T. Bassett House, 2377 Main Street, at the intersection of Routes 28 and 137 in South Chatham. The Information Booth is located at 533 Main Street, next to Town Hall. It is under the supervision of the Chatham Chamber of Commerce and maintained by the Town of Chatham.

The sport of kings is the sport for everyone. For the boys and girls, there are flounder, and the experts match their skill against the striped bass, bluefish, and tuna. The waters of Cape Cod off Chatham offer some of the best-striped bass fishing in the world. No permit is required for saltwater fishing. There is excellent fishing in many of the freshwater ponds near Chatham. You may purchase a freshwater fishing license from the Goose Hummock Shop in Orleans at 508-255-0455. Non-resident shell fishing may be done in any area that is not marked “Closed to Shell Fishing,” but only by special fee permit available from the Permit Department on George Ryder Road. Harbor and gray seals are the most common species in Chatham, and can often be seen resting or hauled out on rock piles, ledges, sand bars, and jetties exposed during low tide around the Chatham shoals from the North Beach break-through to South Beach and Monomoy. They’re also found resting on isolated beaches, in marshes, and on floating docks at all tide stages.

The best time to see seals is within two hours of low tide on a sunny midday afternoon. Because seals cannot move well on land, during high tide they position themselves over submerged jetties. When the tide goes out they are left exposed, sitting on the jetty basking in the sun. If left undisturbed, they will stay on the rocks until the tide comes in again. If conditions are right, approximately 1,500 to 2,000 seals can be seen in the afternoons at Monomoy Island. There are several local companies offering exciting seal tours along the beautiful Chatham Harbor waterways between North Beach, Chatham Light, and the Break

Every Friday evening at 8pm from July 2 to September 3 all roads on the Cape lead to the band concert at Whit Tileston Band Stand—Kate Gould Park on Main Street in Chatham. As many as six thousand people attend these concerts, and it will be one of the highlights of your Chatham summer. There will be dance numbers for grownups, folk dances for the children, and community singing for everyone. Members of the colourfully uniformed 40-piece band live in Chatham and the surrounding towns. Each Monday evening during the winter the band meets for rehearsal. Funds for the maintenance of the band are voted on at town meetings. The band members are not paid and the concerts are their contribution to the summer life of Chatham. Don’t miss these concerts. They’re great fun!