Upscale waterfront restaurant, casual bistro, and seasonal pool bar
Variety of indoor and outdoor event space, including a ballroom
On-site gift shop complex
Free parking and hotel-wide Wi-Fi
Not all rooms are as modern and attractive as others
Some complaints about maintenance issues and noise between rooms
Spa reviews are mixed
Wi-Fi connection can be unreliable
The 190-room Water's Edge Resort & Spa is a sprawling, upper-middle-range hotel complex on the Connecticut shoreline. Rooms are a mixed bag, some are traditional and a bit dated, while waterfront villas are modern and sharp -- some rooms feature fireplaces, kitchens, and terraces. One of the main draws here is the full-service spa, though reviews are mixed on services, and there's also a modern gym, a private beach, and indoor and outdoor pools. Extensive event spaces make the property popular for weddings, especially in spring and summer, which can result in crowds. Dining options include an upscale waterfront restaurant that serves weekend brunch and a more casual bistro and grill. It might pay to compare rates at The Spa at Norwich Inn, which is right next to a golf course.
Traditional New England spa resort in a picturesque waterfront setting
The Water's Edge Resort is geared toward guests of all ages looking for a weekend getaway, a family vacation, or a special group event. On a hill at the center of the grounds, the Victorian-style main building is surrounded by wide, sloping lawns, flower gardens, and raised terraces overlooking the shoreline. Guest rooms are spread out between the main building, the Library Building, and numerous condos and villas. There's a skylit reception area with plain wooden floors and the lobby has a red brick fireplace and a mix of contemporary and traditional furniture. Some parts of the lobby offers a sharp blend of aesthetics, like the mezzanine next to the bar, where sunburst light fixtures hang on the ceiling and several whimsically-proportioned chairs look out to the harbor. Still, things do feel a bit underdecorated, and there's almost nothing in the way of wall art. More appealing is the multi-level restaurant, which features a soft blue-and-gray color palette, a boulder fireplace, and floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning water views. Like many of the waterside resorts in this part of Connecticut, the resort is wildly popular for weddings, and during wedding season things can be quite busy here.
On the eastern Connecticut shoreline near outlet malls
Water's Edge Resort is situated halfway between New York and Boston (two hours to either), making it a popular destination for guests from both cities. The area is decidedly suburban, and the main things to do in the area -- aside from enjoying the water and exploring the many nature reserves and coastal parks up and down the shore -- is visiting the outlet malls. Tanger Outlets Westbrook is a five-minute drive from the hotel. The immediate area is residential, and the main driveway is on busy Boston Post Road, next to a small shopping plaza. Old Saybrook, which has a few cafes and antique shops, is a 10-minute drive away, while Yale University and the Mohegan Sun Casino are 30 minutes away. It’s a 35-minute drive to Mystic Seaport, and Bradley International Airport in Hartford is about an hour away by car.
Variety of room styles, some with fireplaces, kitchens, and waterfront balconies
The resort offers a variety of units that range from traditional hotel rooms and suites to time-share condos and sleek villas overlooking the shoreline. Unfortunately, there's a disparity in style between lower-category rooms and upgraded rooms, and while villas are modern and handsome, the traditional look in some of the Standard and Waterview Rooms is underwhelming. These units are carpeted and feature colonial-style furniture -- like two poster upholstered headboards and oak-veneer pieces with brass fixtures -- plus pale yellow walls and Impressionistic wall art, the kind that might be found at any low-budget New England motel. Bathrooms are also dated, with pink granite counter tops plus shower/tub combos with faux-stone tiling. Coffeemakers and small flat-screen TVs plus free Wi-Fi all come standard (as they do in all room categories). Some rooms also have jetted tubs and balconies.
Suites in the Library Building are marginally nicer, with more modern upholstered headboards lined with tack-nail details, through frilly striped window treatments aren't the freshest design choice that we've encountered. These units include separate living areas and kitchenettes with granite countertops, microwaves, and mini-fridges. French doors lead out to wooden balconies and the bathrooms are done with attractive green patterned wall paper, with small vanities and shower/tub combos.
Far and away the nicest choice at the hotel are the condos and Villas by the Sea. Condos are simply decorated in a contemporary fashion, with lots of seaside-ready blues and tans -- and feature updated couches and chairs, fireplaces, and galley kitchens with cooktops and microwaves. Villas by the Sea -- the newest units on the property -- are modern and handsome, with contemporary open-plan kitchens, sleek wall-mounted gas fireplaces, and bathrooms with Carrara marble walls and tub enclosures. Decor throughout is modern and homey, with dark wood veneer furniture, stacked-stone accent walls, sharp black-and-white photography, and details like tufted upholstered headboards that are complimented by colors like yellow and deep teal. It's worth noting that Wi-Fi can be spotty in some rooms, and depending on the room's location, noise from inside the hotel can be an issue.
Beach and two pools, a spa, a restaurant and bistro, and wedding facilities
The property's most stellar feature is its waterfront location, complete with a beach for seasonal swimming. However, the beach can get crowded, and there aren't always enough chairs to go around. A seasonal outdoor pool sits right next to the beach and has lovely water views. There's also an indoor pool with a hot tub. The space has a good amount of windows that helps keep it from feeling too dark. The hotel touts its spa as a highlight, but from a style perspective, the heavy drapes and dark fabrics used throughout -- plus the colonial furniture -- don't make the best impression and it all looks like it could be found in a mall. It has eight treatment rooms, plus a nail salon and a relaxation area with free snacks, though guest reviews of the services are mixed.
This hotel is a popular spot for weddings, and there's also a bridal boutique, a florist, and a hair salon. Dining options include the main restaurant, which serves a popular weekend brunch, plus a casual bistro and a seasonal pool bar and grill. Like the spa, the food receives uneven reviews, and no meals are included with standard rates. There's also a great fitness center with a nice array of modern cardio and weight-training equipment, for anyone who wants a workout with their relaxing weekend getaway. Tennis courts are available as well Event space includes 12 meeting rooms and a ballroom, plus extensive manicured grounds for outdoor gatherings. Wi-Fi and parking are free.
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