“And what are you celebrating?’’ asked the crewmember of Rum Runner II, on our “Lighthouses & Mimosas’’ cruise of Newport Harbor. “Umm, life?’’ was our response. “We’re having a mother-daughter getaway.’’ Nearly everyone else on our cruise was part of a bachelorette party, as evidenced by the matching personalized tank tops (“Kaley’s Crew! No champagne, no gain’’), and eagerness to refill those mimosa glasses.
If you’re planning any kind of girls getaway, Newport is a great fit. This Rhode Island seaport is chock-a-block with boutiques, outdoor dining and drinking options, fun ways to get out on the water, a variety of tours (from history walks to haunted hotspots), mansions, and museums (we saw a Pierre Cardin exhibit at Rosecliff mansion), and opportunities to learn to sail and stand-up paddle. For that essential grab-and-go, sweet-and-salty snack: chocolate-covered pretzels at Kilwins on Thames Street.
A fun, waterfront base for these adventures: the recently launched Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina on Goat Island. A sister property to Gurney’s Montauk in the Hamptons, Gurney’s Newport occupies the site of the former Hyatt Regency on the island — the quirky spot that looks like a giant brick pyramid rising out of Narragansett Bay (but was meant to resemble a sailboat, we’re told.) The reincarnated hotel will be open year-round, and it has undergone an $18 million renovation. Those red bricks? They’ve been painted mellow yellow, and the design scheme is crisp and nautical, with a coastal color palette that allows the island locale to reign supreme. Nearly all of the 257 rooms and suites have a water view of Newport Harbor or Narragansett Bay. There’s also a lot of function space here, so don’t be surprised if you encounter bridal parties.
Public spaces also take advantage of the resort’s 10 acres of undisturbed views. The Regent Cocktail Club offers indoor and outdoor, three-level deck seating, clustered around 11 fire pits, a fabulous place to watch the sunset. Adirondack chairs overlook the bay and the picturesque Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge. Gurney’s fine-dining restaurant, the neo-Italian Scarpetta, has window seating along the water as well. You might know this one; there’s a Scarpetta at Gurney’s Montauk and a handful of other locations. You’ll definitely get a coconut-scented whiff of Gurney’s Montauk at The Pineapple Club, the poolside bar and restaurant; bedecked with day beds and music courtesy of a poolside DJ, it has the scene-y feel of its sibling resort. (Lots of couples and girlfriend groups, no kids — maybe all the small fry were ensconced in the resort’s Kid’s Club.)
But the icing on the cake (or the chocolate on the pretzel) is the transportation. Parking in downtown Newport can be tricky (some lots give you only three hours) and pricey. We used the self-parking lot at Gurney’s ($20 per night), and spent the rest of the weekend using their complimentary shuttle service. (A water shuttle operates from May through October, and Porsche house cars cover the other months.) Shuttles run frequently; the other option is to walk into town, over the causeway, probably 15 minutes at most.
Feeling flush? Take a chartered helicopter or yacht from Gurney’s Newport and pop over to the Montauk property. Rather sail yourself? Put on some Top-Siders and enroll in a sailing or cruising course at the onsite sailing school. Then you can join the yacht-y types who arrive to Goat Island by boat; Gurney’s Newport has a 22-slip marina that can accommodate vessels from small tenders to 125-foot watercraft.
About that name: Goat Island has a storied history that includes goat-grazing habitat and a munitions factory. Here’s hoping there’s nothing remaining of the later; as for the former, the property has two goats, Cornelius and William, who live in a replica of Newport’s Marble House mansion. (William Vanderbilt once owned Marble House, and Cornelius Vanderbilt built the Breakers.) Because, why not, it’s Newport!
Plan your girls’ getaway after Labor Day, and snag a rate of around $299 per night (not bad for Newport.) Summer weekend rates begin at $499. September is a great time to visit since the weather is typically lovely but the day-tripping crowds have thinned. Bring your mother, your daughter, your BFFs. Just please skip the matching tank tops, or if you can’t resist, at least make it a classy slogan.
GURNEY’S NEWPORT RESORT & MARINA