Ask any woman between the ages of 25 and 65 about girls’ weekends and she’s likely to say there’s nothing better … IF everyone involved can coordinate their schedules. So when three good friends and I realized we were all free on the first weekend in April, we leapt at the chance to go away together for just one night. Two of us live on Cape Cod and two in central Massachusetts. Boston seemed a logical destination, but once I started to research accommodations, it became clear that finding a hotel suite large enough for all of us to sleep comfortably (i.e. in our own beds) was like finding a needle in a haystack. And with only one night together, we wanted to hang out pajama-party style. Then I remembered a wonderful visit a few years ago to the Harbor View Hotel on Martha’s Vineyard, where my husband, daughter and I stayed in a luxurious suite in a cottage on the hotel’s Edgartown property. Long story short, we four women set off for the Vineyard on April 1 in gale force winds (ferries after ours were canceled for the day) and were received into the warm, welcoming arms of the Harbor View.
After depositing our luggage at the Captain Collins Cottage, and taking time to ooh and ahh over the stunning suite with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large living space with a sleeper couch and an adjacent kitchen alcove, we walked the short distance to the historic main hotel and tucked into a cozy booth at Henry’s Bar. With a view of the storm-churned ocean and the iconic Edgartown Light, we ate, drank and talked to our hearts’ content. Of the four different lunches we ordered, the Cuban sandwich layered with meltingly tender porchetta was the favorite, although the fish tacos, falafel and chopped salad all came in a close second. And we heartily recommend splurging on truffle fries to share. Take it from us, they pair well with white wine, of which there is a nice selection (red too, of course). Beer lovers might want to order a Bad Martha IPA, a premium craft beer from Bad Martha Farmer’s Brewery and Tasting Room right in Edgartown.
Late afternoon would have been the perfect time to walk the charming streets of Edgartown, a whaling community in the 19th century, admiring the Historic District’s architecture and browsing eclectic shops, but the weather put a literal damper on outside activities. Fortunately, our cottage’s gas fireplace and comfy sofa and chairs erased any disappointment we might have felt. Besides, to the other three’s surprise, one of us wanted to catch up with March Madness. So, until dinnertime it was all about basketball and, for me, a good book.
Surfing the Web earlier in the week for Edgartown restaurants open before the season’s “official” start, I selected Alchemy, a place I had been hearing good things about for years. It was the perfect choice! Seated at a window table on the first-floor landing, we were privy to the action in both upstairs and downstairs dining rooms and yet were set just enough apart to feel cosseted. Alchemy’s particular magic welcomes guests with its elegant but easy ambience, solicitous staff and the dazzling food prepared under the direction of Executive Chef Brian Woods. Encouraged by our affable server, three of us couldn’t resist the nightly special, which I have since learned has graduated to the regular dinner menu. Clearly, there were many other fans of the truly sublime Sake Marinated Black Cod with baby bok choy, caramelized local ramps and yuzu soy emulsion.
Overnight the weather cleared, so we decided to take a later ferry back than planned, a reservation change that is very doable in the off season. Basking in the Harbor View’s sunlit Lighthouse Grill, we lingered over the buffet brunch, impressed by the embarrassment of edible riches and not shy about going back for seconds. From waffles to tri-tip roast with horseradish sauce, salmon pâté to buttery pastries, the variety of dishes was truly astonishing, not including the made-to-order-omelets. After such a meal, we were well fortified to hit Claudia Jewelry’s “famous, absolutely amazing ½ off sale” (as it was billed on their Facebook page). What happens when you deposit four women amid gorgeous, reduced-price earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings? Suffice it to say that we just barely made it from Edgartown to Vineyard Haven in time to catch our Cape Cod-bound ferry. It was a fitting end to a girls’ weekend that, although far too short, will shine in our memories as a priceless jewel in a 14K-gold setting.