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New England lodging >>> Cape Codder Resort and Spa., Hyannis, Mass.

Ride the Waves in Nearby Hyannis -- in the Winter

by Kirsten Feldman

This winter, out of ideas for fun in five degrees and out of money for that trip to the Caribbean, our family took an idea straight out of the pages of a family magazine and got roasted. And soaked. And baked. All for a very reasonable price in nearby Hyannis, Mass.

I can hear you groaning now. Either you think Hyannis is an armpit, much too strip-mall-like to qualify as Cape Cod, or you wonder how we were any warmer there than here, Newton, Mass., that is. As a lifelong outer Cape goer I was skeptical, too, but I am here to tell you that Hyannis is no armpit, and more importantly, there is warmth, and fun, to be had there at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa.

We made our reservations in the depths of despair; we couldn't fight with snowsuit zippers or snow boot buckles or mitten clips for one more day. A one-night getaway was all we could manage. We were three families with eight children between the ages of one and nine among us, and we needed to escape winter, just for a little while. From Needham, Brighton, and Newton, we drove the scant hour plus and entered a paradise. You may think I exaggerate, but if your idea of paradise in January includes waves, water slides, and saunas, I don't.

Don't be fooled by the exterior of the Cape Codder. There is a sea of haphazard asphalt parking, the entrance is unclear, and the red paint job has seen better days. Even when you get inside, the front desk is nondescript and the rooms motel standard, but we hadn't come for any of that. We came for the pool we had seen in the pages of Family Fun and couldn't wait to see for ourselves.

After getting our wristbands for the day, we passed through an ordinary glass door to extraordinary sights - waves rolling rhythmically to the shore, clams spouting periodically, children shrieking with glee on the water slide, and parents relaxing in the giant hot tub with a full view of the pool. Wed seen on the web-site that the resort offered spa services, but we only had eyes (and money) for the pool.

We took that pool for all it was worth. Our big guys, boys eight and nine, rode the water slide so many times we had whiplash from watching them go by. Our next crew, a girl and two boys on their way to seven, alternated between belly surfing the waves rolling into the shore and racing their brothers for spots in line on the slide. Our littles, barely one and going on three, played peek-a-boo among the sea of parental legs and blissed out on the warm water slapping their tootsies. We parents traded off lapping the kids in the water slide line, hitting the sauna for a quick bake, and lounging in the hot tub.

When we emerged, raisins one and all, a full four hours later, it was time to find some food. We'd gotten a tip on a casual, local place from a friend who'd assured us it was kid-friendly and inexpensive, but it turned out it was seasonal, with winter not being the season. After a brief moment of panic, we decided to try the resorts restaurant, The Hearth & Kettle. How fancy, and how expensive, could it be, right? But what if we needed a reservation? Before we even got to the host stand, we were reassured. There were children everywhere, and the specials board even had kids specials. We said table for fourteen, eight of them children, and got smiles and a "Right this way."

This way turned out to be two booths, one for the adults plus a high chair and one for the rest of the kids. Our server assured us that she could and would handle this set-up; she went on to suggest she help the kids pick food first so she could get that order in for us. She was only about four and a half feet tall herself, but boy, did she know how to run her tables. Would you believe we ate salads and entrees without any temper tantrums or fights at the next table? My chicken Parmesan would have fed three people and was not half-bad. The kids even ate some dinner, pasta, chicken fingers, and the like, all of which came with ice cream for dessert (we decided not to push our luck and order dessert ourselves). When she brought our check, our server even reminded us about the coupons toward the meal wed gotten at check-in.

But we weren't done for the day yet. We saw a sign in the lobby announcing a marshmallow roast in the courtyard. If that doesn't sound like summer, what does? Armed with our marshmallows and roasting sticks provided by the front desk for a few dollars per family, we arrived to find a giant bonfire supervised by resort staff. We ate more marshmallows than I would have thought possible, especially without any burnt fingers or tears. Then it was off to bed for some in the group and back to the pool for others.

We had three rooms on the same floor but not next to each other (wow, did we all feel sorry for the poor older couple who had the room sandwiched between two of ours). Our family slept reasonably well in the two double beds, our little one in a nest made by the rooms two armchairs. The next morning there was plenty of racing back and forth in the corridor to see who was up and what was happening. Wed all brought snacks of various kinds, so those were handed around liberally. Still, there was no denying breakfast pangs for those of us who hadn't been smart enough to order room service. Back to the restaurant we went with pleasant results again. Then it was back to the main event, the pool. It was just as much fun the second day, even without the novelty factor. We spent more time paddling and floating than we did running on the stairs to the water slide, but we loved every minute of it.

As late morning came, those of the group with younger children felt the call of the nap. We waved them out of the parking lot and set out to explore Hyannis. It turns out downtown Hyannis is a lot like the old Cape Cod, with non-chain knickknack stores and snack shops. We window-shopped a bit (it was a balmy 35), and then decided we needed to see the beach.

After a little hunting, we ended up at Barnstable Harbor, which is just down the road directly across from the Cape Codder. We got a delicious lunch at the little sandwich shop at the fork in the road and ate it on the rocks overlooking the harbor. I had one of the best brownies ever, and that's saying something. We collected a sand sample for our sand collection, an easy, entertaining family pastime if ever there were one, and watched a few dogs brave the winter water to retrieve sticks. The rain that had been threatening all day even held off until we of sandy feet were back in the car, and then its persistent patter and the slap of the wipers promised awesome nap conditions for all but the driver. It was the perfect ending to a great road trip, and we all felt like wed been away longer and farther than we had. We headed home, already talking about going back next winter.

Check for more information on the Cape Codder, including availability

Cape Codder Resort

225 Iyanough Rd.
Route 132 & Bearse's Way
Hyannis, MA 02601

Tel. (508) 771-3000


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