For travelers to the Mid-Atlantic looking to escape the maddening crowds of the beach, along with predictable diversions, the Chesapeake Bay has two resorts that will make visitors second guess just what kind of waterfront vacation they treasure most.
The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in Cambridge, Maryland and Belmond The Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels, Maryland, are located about an hour and half from Washington, D.C. (That is about an hour-and-a-half closer than the oceanfront resorts of Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach).
No boardwalks, no cotton candy, no arcades here. Instead, these resorts are all about enabling guests tap into the natural bounties -- water, flora and fauna on the bucolic Eastern Shore -- and give guests unparalleled access to a lifestyle so serene that many resort visitors are inspired to make their permanent homes in the area.
While both properties offer waterfront getaways, each offers guests very different experiences.
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina
A 400-acre property, the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina, is the only one of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic. The property has an international staff that lends worldliness to the resort. However, this is a place without pretension. This is the easiest resort vacation you can have: just check in and enjoy the amenities, which range from multiples pools, including a swimming-in-swim out pool, golf, volleyball, tennis, nature trails, and a recently updated spa, where the treatments are inspired by the Chesapeake Bay region. There is enough to do that you need never leave the property although the up-and-coming town of Cambridge offers some of Maryland's best restaurants.
Best For: Families
A kid's camp offers fun activities like scavenger hunts, pool time and mini golf. With a golf course and spa, parents are well looked after. Nightly s'mores and cocktails by the outdoor fireplace cap off quiet evenings.
Tom Olson, the new executive chef at Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, has launched a menu that's anchored by locally-sourced ingredients for dishes like smoked paprika rubbed rockfish with tomato sofrito. He relies on local purveyors for crabs, oysters, vegetables and cheese.
Eastern Shore crab dip made with local crab, artichokes, spinach, herbs and cheese at Michener's Library, named for the author of the novel Chesapeake. This bar has a two-story window overlooking the water and a large stone fireplace.
A family-friendly nine-hole frisbee golf course with holes ranging between 60 and 130 yards.
Number of Rooms:
400 rooms and suites, many with waterfront balconies.
Starting rates for spring $159.
Belmond The Inn at Perry Cabin
St. Michaels, Maryland
A waterfront manor built in 1816, Belmond The Inn at Perry Cabin has been expanded over the years to become a full-fledge resort. Sir Bernard Ashley, husband of designer Laura Ashley, converted the property into a hotel before selling it to Orient-Express, which expanded it, further. Today, the property is a favorite of the Beltway crowd, looking to escape Washington, D.C. You may recognize the sweeping lawn, lush gardens and pretty patios from the movie The Wedding Crashers, which was filmed at this resort. The elegant setting with fine china, 750-thread count linens and a high-staff-to-guest ratio happens to be located in a laid back corner of the world, where blue herons stalk the marshland and watermen still head out before dawn to trawl for crabs. The vibe here is private country estate (lots of books and quiet nooks), meets full-service resort (a pool, spa and concierge.)
Best For: Couples
Take a glass of Champagne and stroll the pretty property along the waterfront; hole up beside the fireplace at the clubby Purser's Pub, a cozy enclave with a wood-burning fireplace and leather sofas.
The property offers guests unique hands-on experiences like running a trot line to catch crabs and learning boat building under the guidance of an experienced shipwright.
Borrow a bike from the inn for a casual ride into historic St. Michaels, known for its high-quality indie boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. There's also a trio of tasting rooms in town: Eastern Shore Brewery, St. Michaels Winery and Lyon Distilling.
Sailing charters leave right from the inn's dock.
Number of Rooms: 76, some with private waterfront porches; others with private gated gardens.
Starting rates now: $370