Longed-for Long Weekends: Fairfield County, Stratford

After months of living through the uncertainties of a global health crisis and a life-changing pandemic, isn’t it time to pause? Sometimes all you need is a long weekend escape to push the reset button. 

One “shore” way to restore and unwind is to reserve a room at Stratford’s Surfside Hotel and “sea” firsthand how there’s something soothing about waves lapping over the sand and rocks in an area called Point No Point. The point is, it’s a small southernmost cape that juts into the heart of Long Island Sound, kisses the mouth of the Housatonic River, and seems eons away from the daily grind.

Located on Connecticut’s affluent Gold Coast, discover this tree-lined neighborhood of Lordship, known as “a town within a town.” The name, Lordship, is derived from an original settler, Richard Mills, who arrived around 1639 and, in all likelihood, held the title of “Lord.” 

The Surfside Hotel – Photo Courtesy of Stacy Lytwyn

Conveniently, about 10 minutes from I-95, pass the Sikorsky Memorial Airport and drive through the Great Meadows salt marsh. The “Turtle Crossing” sign signals you are headed in the right direction, leading you to Surfside Hotel that also houses the Little Pub, American restaurant and bar, only steps from the 1,000-foot stone masonry seawall.

Seawall at Point No Point in Lordship – Photo courtesy of Stacy Lytwyn

“You don’t have to go away to get away,” says Kirsten Comfort, general manager at the year-round boutique hotel offering 27 fully appointed guestrooms and a new exercise room.

The historical underpinnings of the hotel-and-restaurant building at 10 Washington Parkway are traced back as far as 1915 when Lordship Pavilion opened. Scores of visitors from Stratford and Bridgeport arrived by trolley and motorcar. In 1956, Marge and Nick Quattone purchased the site and opened Nick’s Hideaway. The lunch shop grew to a full-scale restaurant and motel and then in 1963, the owners changed the name to Marnick’s, a combination of both their first names. 

Three generations of the Quattrone family ran the iconic establishment before putting it on the market in 2018. Doug and Daneen Grabe, co-owners of the Little Pub restaurant chain, purchased the property about a year later, opening a fifth Little Pub amid COVID-19 challenges and delaying the Surfside Hotel debut until August 2020.

“We definitely had bookings here and there during the pandemic. Some of them were local people who said, ‘I just want to get out of my house for a night,’” explains Comfort.

Now, reservations are on a brisk rebound after a chaotic pandemic year. Let’s pretend 2020 never happened is inscribed on the key chains at the Lifeguard Stand, a gift shop on premises, and online, offering nautical-themed paintings and other souvenirs. Indeed, the hotel’s airy and bright guestrooms, stocked minibars, vintage surfboards and fun nautical-themed decor create a life-is-a-beach vibe that’s meant to wash troubles away.

King Guest Room at Surfside Hotel – Photo courtesy of Take Aim Photography
Guest-room Deck View Surfside Hotel – Photo courtesy of Take Aim Photography

The hotel adheres to strict COVID-19 safety guidelines to protect guests and staff members. In addition, contactless check in/check out via Bluetooth OpenKey is available and guestrooms provide area maps, guides and information like WiFi passwords.

In other words, “You technically don’t ever have to see a hotel member if you didn’t want to,” Comfort says.

An array of customized options, such as a four-course, in-room dinner menu; Arogya holistic in-room healing services, including massage; local brewery tours; paddle boards and complimentary bicycles deliver a total travel experience. 

Complimentary bicycles at Surfside Hotel – Photo Courtesy of Michelle Falcone

“Go downstairs to the restaurant to eat and guests don’t have to go anywhere because everything is here,” Comfort adds.

Dining indoors or outdoors, enjoy the Long Island coastal views at the Little Pub, a casual meeting place accented with conversational decor like chandeliers fabricated from nuts and bolts. Comfort describes the setting as “a nice submarine type of feel.” 

The American-style menu duplicates its four other Little Pub siblings’ comfort food fare with an emphasis on seafood. Hot lobster roll keeps one of Marnick’s traditions alive. Although when Marnick’s opened lobster roll cost $1.70. Now, at press time, seasonal pricing ran $24. Not a bad deal considering pandemic-related supply chain seafood shortages.

The owners, Comfort says, work hard to keep prices affordable. In addition, she adds, “We want to have something here for everyone.” 

From cornhole games on Thursday to morning yoga, it sounds like the establishment is meeting its goal. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, 60 events—and counting—are planned for guests and the general public as well.

Gift Shop at Surfside Hotel – Photo courtesy of Michelle Falcone

Guests also have a number of nearby beaches to explore while novel shopping experiences include the Mellow Monkey about two and a half miles away. Aviation enthusiasts can enjoy the all-day grand opening on May 29 of the Connecticut Air & Space Center, 225 B Main Street, in Lordship’s Sikorsky Memorial Airport, which will open a portion of the historic Curtiss Hanger to the public as part of an exhibition in a “mini-museum.”

No matter what’s on the travelers’ itinerary, weekends spent in Lordship can be summed up in three words: Pause. Reset. Repeat.

For additional weekend getaway ideas, including lodging, dining, attractions and so much more, check out WCTD’s website at https://www.ctvisit.com/listings/western-regional-tourism-district.

Longed-for Long Weekends: Fairfield County, Stratford is co-written by Michelle Falcone of Easton, secretary on the Executive Committee for the Western Connecticut Tourism District (WCTD) and Stacy Lytwyn, Easton resident and CT guidebook author. It is the third article in a six-part series that examines some of the best weekend jaunts offered in each of the three regions in the WCTD.

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