In the late 1800s, the “great camps” of New York’s Adirondack Mountains became all the rage for wealthy families from New York City and Chicago looking to get away from not only the stresses of city life but also most of the rest of the population.
But after the Great Depression hit and the post-WWII boom democratized the great American vacation, others copied these Swiss-style chalets and huge complexes of vacation cabins and recreation halls to create the Northeastern resort experience we still know and love today: natural locations combined with low-key guests and activities that are fun for children as well as for the adults that get to feel like kids again.
Here are some resorts that make great settings for church group getaways in the Northeast.
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina
The four-diamond Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort gracefully walks a fine line between many competing ideas. It’s a chain hotel with a family-run resort feel. Its location is both secluded and convenient to the historic downtown of Cambridge, once home to Annie Oakley, for a little strolling and shopping. And guests can take in nature either in the most low-impact way possible, like kayaking, or with a high-tech twist from a seaplane.
Though it’s only an hour from Baltimore, the eastern side of the bay where the resort is positioned has a remote feel heightened by the fact that hotels are few and far between; the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort was the first full-year, full-service property in the area.
With 400 guest rooms, the resort is large but doesn’t feel like it, especially since all guests can enjoy a view of the 370-acre property, which includes an 18-acre rookery for the Chesapeake Bay’s famous blue herons, from their private balconies. For a closer look at the local wildlife, the resort’s location just off the delta of the tranquil Choptank River makes it perfect for spotting bald eagles and terrapins.
Groups that need space for gatherings can take advantage of more than 37,000 square feet of indoor meeting space or 85,000 square feet of lawns, gardens and terraces that can be reserved for private events.
Sebasco Harbor Resort
Family owned and operated for 86 years, the Sebasco Harbor Resort could easily be known as the Sebasco Family Resort thanks to its incredibly close-knit atmosphere that takes in everyone from the resort owners to staff and returning guests to newcomers.
Sebasco’s welcoming sentiment owes much to its slate of all-ages activities, typically three or four each day, that centers on the timeless, wholesome fun that visitors who are looking for an authentic Maine vacation expect. Mornings may start with yoga or golf, but afternoons are full of hand-cranked ice cream, softball games with owner Bob Smith and T-shirt tie-dyeing, capped off with an evening campfire sing-along.
The layout of Sebasco is ideal for groups thanks to numerous group cabins with six to 10 bedrooms. But because many families book the same cabin the same week every year — some families have been coming for four generations — Smith advises new groups to take advantage of key ebbs and flows in the usual leisure traffic, such as the two weeks after the Fourth of July, the last week of August or midweek during the fall, when people come from both East Coast cities and Europe to enjoy the colorful foliage.