Historical photos are courtesy of Nantucket Historical Association
istory takes time. History makes memory.
~ Gertrude Stein
Na NTu CKET
The front entrance depicts the grandeur of design attributed to 19th century hotels, even at a seaside resort.
by Andrew Spencer
– both as a location and as a name –
conjures up thoughts of history. From the island’s world-class Whaling Museum to the litany of 19th-century homes that populate the landscape, history is the blood that flows through the veins of this little sandbar 30 miles out in the Atlantic. But there’s a funny thing about history. Oftentimes history is as personal as it is majestic, which means that oftentimes our personal histories with a place consist of memories created from our time spent there, and Nantucket is no exception to that rule. For those of us fortunate enough to spend time here, our memories of the place are what make up our history, and many of us long for the “good old days,” when Nantucket was a sleepy little island where families gathered together, when flip-flops and t-shirts were the uniform of choice, when sand on the floor was as omnipresent as old Jeeps and Robinson’s Five-and-Ten. For many of us, that is the image of what Nantucket should be. But as reality has a harsh way of teaching us, time moves forward and things change. Today, Nantucket has become a much more upscale destination than it was 20 or 30 years ago, and for many families, the cost of coming to the island has eclipsed the realm of affordable vacations. Perhaps no island landmark better illustrates the fickle nature of the world’s economy – and the costs associated with being on Nantucket – than the building that houses the former Point Breeze Hotel, which has remained dormant and empty since developer Robert Matthews’ failed bid to turn the hotel into a luxury private club and residence.
Just when many of us had given up on Nantucket ever regaining its position as an affordable, familyfriendly vacation spot, hoteliers Mark and Gwenn Snider blew into town like the summer fog, intent on bringing back some of that Nantucket history. And talking to the Sniders is, at the risk of using a cliché, as refreshing as a July breeze. “We can’t relive the past,” Mark Snider said recently of his plan to open The Nantucket on the site of the former Point Breeze, “but we can learn from it. And our hope with The Nantucket is to create a place that embodies everything that we all think is so special about the island.” Snider knows about what makes Nantucket special, a sentiment he developed as a teenager working for the Steamship Authority on the island. His parents settled on Martha’s Vineyard in the 1960s, and eventually opened a hotel there. Snider followed their lead, opening his own hotel, Winnetu Oceanside Resort, together with his wife Gwenn in 2000. When the Point Breeze property became available, he saw an opportunity. “Nantucket is a place – and the property is a location – that was calling out for a solution to the cost issue associated with coming to the island.” It took three years to finally come to terms with the bank on financing, but now it’s full-steam ahead for team Snider. “The best use for this property is as a hotel that welcomes families. Our goal is to be absolutely family friendly,” Snider said.
While the exterior of the stately building will remain true to its historic roots, inside guests will find all the modern conveniences they require in today’s world. In addition to comfortably appointed rooms and suites, guests will find two swimming pools, a fitness center, a casual restaurant, bar and café – “Breeze,” and plenty of children’s programs to keep the kids occupied. The Sniders plan to work with local bike rental facilities to offer guests the option of biking around the island and will also offer discounted tickets on NRTA’s Wave busses.
“We want our guests to understand that they don’t need a car on the island,” Snider said. “We want them to appreciate the natural beauty of the place.” Further highlighting the new hotel’s local flavor, Snider plans to work with local contractors, decorators and even artists to make the interior feel more authentically like Nantucket. Of course, all of this sounds perfect to the ears of those of us who wish for a time machine to take the island back to the land of affordability, but there is the sticky issue of cost. “It’s a challenge,” Snider admitted, “to balance the cost of doing business on Nantucket and still keep it affordable and high quality, but we’re offering a range of accommodations for our guests, and we plan to be open year-round. We are committed to making The Nantucket a family hotel that families can afford.” Nantucket might be a new home base for the Snider family, but the Sniders already feel welcomed by the local population. “The Nantucket community has been so supportive and helpful,” he said. “My wife and
I have been having a great time getting this project up and running.” And all signs point to a long-lasting relationship with the island and its visitors and residents alike. “I tend to be very idealistic,” Snider said, the ballroom
“and I am always working very hard to be connected to the community.” Nantucket is truly lucky to have landed on the Sniders’ radar,
is located at 77 Easton Street. For more information
or to inquire about reservations, visit their Website thenantuckethotel.com, or call them at 508.310.1734 or 866.807.6011.
and today’s visitors – young and old alike – will reap the benefits, as they create their own histories of what makes Nantucket such a special place to visit.