HARWICH — The editors of the Forbes Travel Guide follow an extensive checklist to determine a hotel’s star rating. Its undercover inspectors have 800 subjective standards in place to deliver a rating ranging from one to five stars for hotels around the globe. They stay multiple nights before tallying their results.
Only 154 hotels earned a coveted five-star rating in 2016. This year, for the first time since the guide began in 1958, one of those properties is located on Cape Cod. I’m not privy to the 800 subjective standards that the Forbes writers followed to determine their five-star rating of the Wequassett Resort and Golf Club (I know many of them are service-oriented), so I had to create a set of standards when I decided to perform my own undercover review at Wequassett earlier this month.
Unlike the Forbes investigators, I was only able to swing a single night (my room with taxes, came to over $900), but, based on my own off-kilter standards, I think I came up with a fair and somewhat thorough evaluation of the 120-room property, which includes a golf course, lap pool, and tennis courts.
It’s sprawling, it’s on the water, it’s impeccably landscaped, there are three pricey-but-good proper restaurants, a pair of bars, and the swanky main pool looks as if it were lifted from the pages of Architectural Digest.
My first subjective observation was that the entire staff is customer focused. I know this because I doltishly drove my car into the service entrance of the hotel rather than the main entrance. I then drove it up a narrow path with no way to turn around. An employee of the hotel who was probably on his break offered to put my car in reverse and back it down the precariously curvy road. I apologized profusely, and drove into the actual entrance of the hotel.
The staff in the lobby greets all guests by name. My last name is deceivingly difficult to pronounce, but they all gamely tried.
The porter offered to ride with me to show me where my room was located (there are 20 buildings for guest rooms). I started the ignition and the radio started blaring Irene Cara’s 1984 hit “Breakdance.” I forgot I had been listening to 1980s satellite radio very, very loudly when I arrived. My hand quickly went for the volume and my face burned red. Through it all, the porter didn’t flinch.
My room was in the orchid building. All buildings are named after flowers, but the room was far more mayflower (the flora, not the vessel) than orchid. It was upscale, but very much in touch with its Cape Cod surroundings. It wasn’t trying to disguise itself as a New York City boutique hotel room.
The décor was a clever, playful mix of retro nautical fabrics. The wallpaper in the bathroom sported lighthouses, there were more lighthouses on the curtains, and the desk chair was upholstered with lobsters. Imagine decorator Kelly Wearstler leaving the Hamptons and buying a place on the Cape and you get the picture. If cheeky-chic were an actual decorating term, that’s the one I would choose.
Almost every system in my room was controlled by a touch screen on the wall or by a remote control. I had an expansive view of the water, but the day was gray and drizzly. I solved the problem by pressing a button and turning on the gas fireplace.
I have a bit of a hoarding problem when it comes to hotel toiletries. That’s a polite way of saying that I steal every bar of soap and bottle of shampoo I can get my hands on. I was impressed that Wequassett carried upscale Molton Brown toiletries, so I went to work grabbing every bottle and bar within reach. In the middle of my pillage, the chambermaid knocked for turndown service. In a panic, I put the stolen goods on a table, and hastily covered them with my jacket.
I sat holding my breath and pretending I was working on my laptop as she placed a chocolate on my pillow and laid out a robe. She then walked by the table where my jacket lay covering the contraband toiletries and kindly lifted it to hang it up. I felt my heart stop, and I heard a small gasp from her as she spotted my sudsy crime.
Instead of embarrassing me, she went back to her cart for more soap and shampoo and kindly replaced what I had taken. This, I decided, was the sign of a five-star hotel. It’s a place where the maid doesn’t shame you for hoarding. She only brings more shampoo with a smile.
See more photos of the resort: