The Harbor View Hotel is the Classiest Place to Stay on the Vineyard

The wrap-around porch at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown is the best view in town!

The wrap-around porch at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown is the best view in town!

We took a tour of the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown with the lovely Rebecca Bartlett, sales director for Scout hotels who manage this and eight other waterfront hotels, and she showed us the penthouse.  She explained that this 1880s era hotel was once owned by a local man named Bob Carroll, and when he sold it to investors, he had one caveat. He’d get to keep the fourth floor penthouse as his personal apartment, with its commanding view of the Edgartown Lighthouse and the busy harbor, full of passing boats.

Rebecca Barlett of Scout Hotels.

Rebecca Barlett of Scout Hotels.

View from the hotel's Lighthouse Restaurant.

View from the hotel’s Lighthouse Restaurant.

Sunset at Menemsha: worth the one-hour bus ride!

Sunset at Menemsha: worth the one-hour bus ride!

Pretty North Water Street, home to magnificent old houses that once belonged to whaling ship captains.

Pretty North Water Street, home to magnificent old houses that once belonged to whaling ship captains.

The Penthouse at the Harbor View.

The Penthouse at the Harbor View.

Playing on Menemsha Beach.

Playing on Menemsha Beach.

Poolside at the hotel.

Poolside at the hotel.

Carroll lived until he was 90, and died just last year. So far no plans have been made to rent out his former place, but like so many things at the Harbor View, it’s a wonderful memory.  Along the hotel corridors are old photos of old timey bathing beauties all dressed head to toe, enjoying the tonic of the seabreezes.

Once the hotel stood along in its spot, but today it’s all built up on t his very toniest of streets in Edgartown, once one of New England’s richest towns due to the whaling fortunes.

The Harbor View is the most legendary propertes on this big island.  No other place combines the view, a downtown location, and the number of rooms 116, which affords many different choices of accommodation.  There is the main hotel, where room number 216 is the star, perfectly positioned in line with the lighthouse with high ceilings, a large bathroom, and everything you’d want in a luxurious high end hotel room.

With a 98 percent occupancy during their 10-week summer season, this room isn’t very easy to snag, and it goes for about $650 a night.   There is also a newer section called the Governor Mayhew  building which looks more like a modern hotel, but is right next to the pool. This area is great for families and is priced around $400 a night.

There are also six Captain’s cottages which are two story houses with the kind of heavy doors that signal high quality construction, as well as plenty of marble, very comfy beds, and decks on the front and the back. These are available for sale, from $600,000 to $1,000,000,  and just below our unit number 62 is the model home that potential clients can check out if they want a nice place to stay when they visit Edgartown. When they’re not here they can rent it out. You can order room service from the two restaurants and since the hotel is open year ’round, get rental income even in the cold months.

We dined in the restaurant that’s now called the Lighthouse Grill, and it was a memorable experience–everything was fresh, the service was perfect, and we learned from the top chef,  Caleb Lara, how this new incarnation differed from the previous menu, when it was called Water.

“It was hard for people to pronounce the menu items, and some times it took a little too long, ” he explained. Now it’s more straightforward–local seafood and veggies, Bouillabaisse, aged steaks, all at a lower price point.  The woody ambience, view of the lighthouse with the candlelight, and the staff, who are from all over the world, made dinner a wonderful experience.

Edgartown’s Harbor View Hotel: Home for a Few Days

Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown Mass.

Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown Mass.

For most of my life, I’ve strolled down North and South Water Streets in Edgartown, Mass with the confidence and pride that comes with being a landowner.  Our family house once stood on Cummings Way, just off North Water.  My grandmother Essie bought the house just after the war, and for five decades she spent the summer at this house with a view of the Edgartown Lighthouse from the magnificent back porch.

Our family cherished the times we spent celebrating Essie’s August 17 birthdays, with dozens of her friends piling in around the piano to sing show tunes and us cousins sleeping out in her bunkhouse, a converted one-car garage.  It was a magical place every time we made the long drive, and it continued after Essie died in the ’90s.

But we finally sold the house in 2002, and today, on the same spot, a gigantic house complete with a pool has been built.  We were assured that the cash buyer wanted to keep Essie’s house just as it was, but rich people have no obligation like that–so everything we remember now is gone, and the neighbor’s view is now of the house and not the harbor.

I think about this place often, and today we are excited to be heading out to sleep on the same street, at the regal and classic Harbor View Hotel.  With an even more commanding view of Edgartown Light and the busy harbor, it shall be a luxurious few days, and we will write up a review to be published in GoNOMAD’s Stories about Hotels.

It won’t be Essie’s house, with the familiar smell and welcoming hugs from our 90-year-old granny, but it sure will be great being back on Water Street once again.

My New iMac is a Radical Departure from the Age of Dell

The sleek iMac is so different from my old Dells...and so much easier to use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve joined the cult of the Mac.  After decades of having an office full of Dell computers, I reached my last straw when all three of these hard-working machines slowed to a crawl and once again I was faced with having to get them cleaned up.  Spend another $200 for this–or just try something completely new, an iMac!

Well, I drove down to the Apple store and they couldn’t have been nicer. Of course, when the average customer is dropping $1500 to $2000 for a desktop machine, they should be.  Incredible to me that these machines are never on special, or on sale, and nobody ever speaks of a discount.  It’s a little sad to see how busy the Apple store is compared to the rest of the stores in the Holyoke Mall.  Clerks lazily hold their phones, waiting for someone to come in, as the chipper blue-tee-shirted Apple store crew handles a crowd every day.  As if they need the money!

But I am very fond of this machine—the tiny little keyboard is wireless, as is my ‘magic trackpad’ which takes some getting used to.  It’s just so slick and so easy to use, and I keep thinking how happy I am that Russian and Chinese hackers don’t really bother writing viruses for these machines.

So far I have adapted to the many changes–made so much easier by the fact that nearly all of what I do every day is on the web, not relying on software built for the PC.  So far, so good, I already love this machine and I honestly can’t say I’ve ever felt that way about my old Dells.

Green River Festival 2015: Sharing A Tradition with Newbie

Festival girls.

Festival girls.

A newbie at the fest.

Reading and enjoying the music–a fest newbie!

The Straybirds

The Straybirds.

It’s July again in the Valley and the best punctuation mark in this glorious vacation month is the annual Green River Festival at GCC.  The weather yesterday was perfect–not too hot, but still worth bringing an umbrella to sit under, and the legions of old friends and acquaintances who I get to run into and see every year.

One highlight for me this year was that my son Sam came to his first GRF since the 1990s when I brought him along as a young’in.  He joined us in our first-umbrella row site and stuck around until 8:30 pm. That means he liked it!

Rubblebucket, after their roaring, raving introduction by WRSI’s Monte Belmonte, proved as good as he said they were, with their rollicking soulful beats that got everyone dancing and pumping their fists.  Another stand-out was at the far end of the fest at the Four Rivers stage, where Red Baraat, featuring a full horn section and some wild drumming on a two-sided drum, enthralled a whole flock of fans who had never heard of this Brooklyn based band. Kudos to Jim, once again, who knew about these guys who play northern Indian pop? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Valley Venture Mentors: What Can You Tell Us in Two Minutes?

The pitchers are ready with their two-minute pitches at the VMM meeting in Greenfield last night.

The pitchers are ready with their two-minute pitches at the VMM meeting in Greenfield last night.

jibe VVM

Ahmed Nabih is an inventor who created JIBE, a thermostat similar to the Nest which switches between electric and oil heat. He has already been through the mentor process and has been successful and got a patent.

Jamie Cocco.

Jamie Cocco gave a rousing presentation but it was not clear what his business does…which in two minutes can be a big problem.

What can you tell me about your business in two minutes?

That was the challenge tonight when Valley Venture Mentors met for the first time in Franklin County, bringing 10 entrepreneurs nursing their own small businesses and hoping for attention and funding to the John Olver Transit Center for some good old fashioned networking.

First, Paul Silva set the stage. “We want to know whose ass you’ve kicked!” he said, his enthusiasm evident from the very start. “We have gotten $4 million in investments for start-ups in the Valley since the beginning of 2015!” he added. Clearly there is a great need for opportunities to bring bright young talents together with the connections and possible funding they need.

Tonight the start-ups lined up for a chance to give their 2-minute elevator pitch–a Deerfield chicken and turkey farmer, a martial arts school, a man from Ashfield who has invented a home heating system that runs on restaurant fryer oil, a woodworker, and a guy who pitched something about leadership but I didn’t quite make out what he was doing.  The quality of the pitches ranged from, ‘oh, yeah I get it!’ to ‘hmm, what exactly do you do anyway?’   But all were entertaining as was the chance to meet the enthusiastic idea-hatchers with their diverse plans for a bright future.

I hope that the Valley Venture Mentors return to Greenfield. They got a great reception and who knows? Maybe some of these elevator pitches will turn into connections to help all of these nascent businesses grow and prosper.

Solid Sound 2015: The Spirit was There Despite the Rain

Terry Adams is still the original high energy piano man, and his current crop of musicians carry the spirit of the Q quite nicely.

Terry Adams is still the original high energy piano man, and his current crop of musicians carry the spirit of the Q quite nicely.

You see a whole lot of hats at the Solid Sound Festival.

You see a whole lot of hats at the Solid Sound Festival.

Every two years Wilco gathers the faithful at a fantastic venue for a festival…instead of a mountain slope ski area or a farmer’s alfalfa fields, they choose the run-down small city of North Adams where the biggest museum in the US is improbably located.  Then they turn this former factory complex, now Mass MOCA, into a World of Wilco for three days of music, the arts, and thousands of out of town visitors.

Deadpan comedian John Hodgman can make me laugh very easily, and he was hilarious in the Hunter Auditorium for Solid Sound.

Deadpan comedian John Hodgman can make me laugh very easily, and he was hilarious in the Hunter Auditorium for Solid Sound.

Once again we got to enjoy the festival and the only disappointment was the rain, which we could have taken more preparations for. On Saturday we joined the throngs in the sold out venue to enjoy the high energy shows of NRBQ and Richard Thompson.  Q, as most older fans know, is now made up of just one former band member, Terry Adams. But he’s found some high octane band members who rock with the same exuberance and charisma as the original, I must say, after seeing them a few different occasions.

What I like about Solid Sound is that it’s held every two years, so you always are excited about it coming around. Many more events should adopt this bi-annual schedule, it makes you totally want to go see it. It gives the band the room they need to fit in tours and it’s just a better way to run a fest.

The volunteers are always super friendly, there are no authoritative jerks to bring down the vibe, even when they are checking bags it’s with a spirit of Wilco–relaxed, fun, and let’s all have a good time.  This year the food lines were shorter despite the sell-out, and it was a pleasure not to have to sweat as badly as we did in 2013, when it was about 90 degrees the whole time.

Had we brought umbrellas and full rain gear, (and had we been a few years younger), my pal Bill and I would have stayed for the whole Wilco show. But as the drops became more and more frequent, we packed up our stuff and headed out, we’ll have to enjoy some of the videos I found on Facebook. But till 2017, it was a fantastic show and I hope everyone had as much fun as we did!