Cambridge, Maryland and the Hyatt Chesapeake Resort…
By Bob Tagert
For this months road trip we decided to take a drive to the eastern shore and visit the waterfront town of Cambridge, Maryland and discover the beautiful Hyatt Chesapeake Resort along the banks of the Choptank River.
Getting to Cambridge is pretty simple. Take the Beltway to Route 50 and head east. Within two hours you will cross the bridge that spans the Choptank River into Cambridge. The Choptank River is a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay and the largest river on the Delmarva Peninsula. The river begins at Choptank Mills, Delaware and empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Its watershed area in Maryland is 1,004 square miles of which 224 square miles is open water.
The $155 million Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa & Marina is situated on the east shore in Cambridge, Maryland. Completed in 2002, the resort is the only of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic U.S.
Settled by English colonists in 1684, Cambridge is one of the oldest colonial cities in Maryland. At the time of English colonization, the Algonquian-speaking Choptank Indians were already living along the river of the same name. During the colonial years, the English colonists developed farming on the Eastern Shore. The largest plantations were devoted first to tobacco, and then mixed farming. The town was a trading center for the area. In the late 19th century, Cambridge developed food-processing industries by canning oysters, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.
Cambridge was designated a Maryland “Main Street” community on July 1, 2003. Cambridge Main Street is a comprehensive downtown revitalization process created by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. It plans to strengthen the economic potential of select cities around the state. The initiative has led to enhancements of its heritage tourism attractions. Together with other cities on the Eastern Shore, Cambridge is attracting more tourists. It has revitalized its downtown business district, part of which was designated a historical district in 1990. Cambridge was the inspiration of the fictional town Patamoke in James Michener’s novel, Chesapeake.
Cambridge’s historic district is a great place to get out of the car and take a stroll. This authentic, historic waterfront community, rich in colonial heritage and maritime traditions, celebrates its 333rd anniversary this year. Cambridge features a brick paved street for strolling though the historic district to parks, marina, museums and a lighthouse on the Choptank River. You are never too far from water as the Choptank Channel runs through town. Downtown is also the location of several annual festivals and events, including the Taste of Cambridge Crab Cook-Off and Festival, and the monthly Second Saturday festivities.
For those coming by boat, the town has a municipal yacht basin with a maximum depth of 13 feet. The yacht basin is on the Chesapeake Bay side of the Route 50 Bridge allowing sailboats with a mast height of over 49 feet to find a safe harbor for the night. Maximum height over the water of the Route 50 Bridge is 50 feet.
Upon our arrival we stopped along the Choptank Channel at the Portside Seafood Restaurant. Originally an oyster house, Portside has been a family owned and operated restaurant since 1997. In this neck of the woods, oysters are king. The oysters produced from the waters of the Choptank are some of the best around. (Old Town’s own Fish Market Restaurant has partnered with a local oyster company to supply the Old Town eatery with Eastern Shore oysters). Portside is a two- story restaurant that offers views of the channel with both indoor and outdoor dining. Clearly it is a place that the locals support. There were very friendly folks at the bar enjoying lunch and $2 Natty Bo’s. Even thought we already had reservations at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Resort, I found it interesting that the owner of Portside recommended that we check it out while in town. Clearly the people of Cambridge are proud of this jewel on the Choptank.
The Hyatt Resort sits on 342 acres leaving plenty of room for their 18-hole golf course designed by Keith Foster, a 150- slip marina and a full service spa. There is a path that winds its way throughout the property making for a relaxed stroll or a bike ride. The path meanders over wooden bridges that span the wetlands below your feet. Here you are likely to see Blue Heron, Bald Eagles and a few of their resident deer. Other wildlife abounds in this natural wildlife rookery.
The 400-room hotel is massive, but because of its crescent shape you feel like you are in the midst of something special. The infinity pool in the courtyard sits dead center in the crescent and from ground level it appears to emptying into the Choptank River, which lies beyond the pool. There are fire pits and fireplaces scattered around for that cool spring or fall evening and during the evenings the resort offer s’mores for their guest’s pleasure. There is also a huge indoor pool that lies adjacent to the infinity pool. There is also an indoor/outdoor jacuzzi (for those of you who have been to the Boardwalk Hotel in Rehoboth – this is a mini version of theirs) that was a welcome site at the end of the day. Something else that we found to be a lot of fun was the fact that they show movies on a big screen at 6 pm and 8 pm at the far end of the pool! And….while the little kids are watching the movie on a floaty, the big kids can enjoy an adult beverage from the poolside bar and grill. This place is very “user” friendly and they most certainly want you to enjoy yourself.
The River Marsh Marina is protected from waves by a seawall that faces north across the Choptank. Guests who choose to dock their boats at the marina overnight will enjoy guest’s privileges throughout the resort (did I say there is a swim up bar in the infinity pool?). Slips range from 30-feet long and 16 feet wide to 80-fet long and 25-feet wide and have all of the amenities.
The hotel itself is spectacular. When you walk into the second floor lobby you are greeted by a wall size window that looks directly out on the pool and the Choptank River beyond. Below the lobby level is the bar, which continues with the outdoor view and houses two massive gas fireplaces. The lounge is very comfortable with tables and chairs and comfortable leather couches for kicking back. Around the corner is the spacious dining room, which also looks out on the courtyard.
The rooms are spacious and done in muted tones. Our large balcony opened up to the courtyard and the Choptank. From the resort you can see the cars traversing the Route 50 Bridge and at night the lights are almost mesmerizing. The resort is beginning the process of redecorating the guest rooms, so what we describe today will not be the same this summer. Good, now I have a reason to go back when the weather is warmer…maybe by boat.
Even though I love Old Town Alexandria, occasionally it is nice to “get out of town” and explore the region around us. The Eastern Shore is always a sure bet any time of year as a top- notch getaway. The natural beauty and serenity will melt away your worries. I hope that you have a chance to visit Cambridge and the fabulous Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Resort