Following Mark Snider into a construction site is like following Patton into battle. His tall, lanky frame dips in and out of doorways and crawl spaces at rapid speed as he passionately describes his latest project. He knows every construction worker on a first-name basis and calls each one his A-team. Jumping over wires and weaving through rooms full of sawdust, Snider is in his element. After all, as president of Stanmar Inc., an athletic-facility design and construction company based in Wayland, Snider, 55, has been bouncing around from building zone to building zone his entire adult life.
As owner of the Winnetu Oceanside Resort on Martha’s Vineyard, Snider also knows a thing or two about refurbishing hotels. He and his wife, Gwenn, took the shell of a run-down motel and built an upscale lodging in 2000. A short walk from the 3-mile stretch of sand on South Beach and only 4 miles by bike trails to Edgartown, the Winnetu’s location is ideal for folks who want to ditch their car for a week.
The Sniders’ latest venture is the former Point Breeze hotel, one of Nantucket’s historical properties, which, as of late, fell on hard times. One of the last grand dames on the island, the Point Breeze was built in 1891 in a sprawling neoclassical style.
“The Point Breeze is a quiet hotel of the highest order. Broad and breezy verandahs, large airy halls and parlor, and a nice dining room,” read an ad from the Sept. 6, 1894, Inquirer and Mirror, Nantucket’s newspaper.
The storied history of the hotel almost came to an abrupt end when the previous owner, in an effort to convert the property into condominiums, went bankrupt. TD Bank took over the Point Breeze in foreclosure and it lay dormant for three years, until the Sniders purchased the property in January. Since then, Snider has been working feverishly to ensure the resort, now called The Nantucket, opens on June 29.
Smack dab in the heart of Nantucket town, the five-story property is retaining the classic grey and green-shingled facade while vastly improving the interior. You could say the grand dame is having a much needed makeover.
“This place was crying for love and affection,” says Snider.
Walk up the steps to a classic wraparound verandah, where rocking chairs will line the building. Push through the lobby and find the Breeze Cafe, a casual indoor-outdoor place that will be open to the public. Then you reach what Snider refers to as “the heart and soul” of the redesign, a swimming and kiddie pool. Beyond the pool is the largest ballroom on Nantucket, able to accommodate up to 300 people for weddings and events. It’s the primary reason the Sniders are going to keep The Nantucket open year-round.
In summer, however, the Sniders, parents of three children ages 17 to 24, are hoping to attract families. The 60 spacious rooms will feature 40 suites, ranging from one to four bedrooms. Each accommodation will have its own kitchenette, living-dining area, and many units will offer washers and dryers. As you reach the upper floors, views open up onto Brant Point Lighthouse and Jetties Beach.
A lounge area offering water vistas on the top floor, called the Point, will open next summer. An extensive fitness facility, lap pool, a row of townhomes behind the ballroom, and three cottages will also be put on hold until 2013.
The Nantucket will have a full-day and evening children’s program. Morning yoga will be held down the street at Children’s Beach, led by a local instructor.
Snider has always had an eye for whimsy. At the Winnetu, he drove around the property offering children rides in a 1945 fire truck he acquired from a fire chief in Notowwa, Mich. For The Nantucket, the Sniders have just returned from Chatsworth, Calif., where they purchased a 1934 Ford bus that will pick up all guests departing and leaving from the docks of the Steamship Authority.
The island’s Wave bus stops right at the door for lifts to Surfside Beach. Snider has also set up a program to have bikes dropped off at the resort, if you feel like biking to Jetties Beach and Steps Beach, only a five-minute pedal from the property.
The Sniders are particularly excited about the opportunity for guests to sample both islands on vacation. A two-island accommodations package will provide all ferry transportation, island transfers, and allow visitors the flexibility to choose the number of nights they want to stay at each property.
“It’s funny, most New Englanders have a preference for one island over the other. Whether it’s the cobblestone streets of Nantucket or the wide open spaces of the Vineyard, it’s a nice choice to make,” says Snider.
The Nantucket 77 Easton St., 866-807-
rooms from $450 a night in summer.Stephen Jermanok can be reached at www.activetravels.com.