Escape to the Quiet Cape for a Perfect Women's Retreat

  • 01 of 08

    The Dan'l Webster Inn is an Ideal Setting for a Girls' Getaway

    Dan'l Webster Inn Cape Cod
    © 2005 Kim Knox Beckius

    My former intern and good friend Jessica Mand may be younger, but she's always been wiser than me when it comes to knowing that women need to pamper and nurture themselves. Jessica gave me a gift certificate for my first massage when I turned 30. I remember it well because I left my bra on, which made things rather difficult for the massage therapist!

    I've come a long way since then, and as my travels have taken me to some of New England's wonderful spas, I've been massaged with hot stones, slathered with rose oil, rolled with bamboo and even scrubbed with maple sugar. I'll admit, however, that I still need coaching when it comes to making time for me a priority. When I decided at the start of 2005 that I needed a break from diapers and deadlines, I called Jessica, who was also ready for a diversion from her busy travel and work schedule.

    The Dan'l Webster Inn, with its intimate spa, fine dining, comfortable rooms and proximity to shops and beaches, provided the ideal setting for a girls' getaway. The 54-room inn is located in Sandwich, Massachusetts, the oldest town on Cape Cod. The Cape may be crawling with families in the summertime, but when winter arrives, it is a serene spot for adults to reconnect and relax.

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  • 02 of 08

    Large Inn Amenities, Small Inn Charm

    Room at Dan'l Webster Inn Cape Cod
    © 2005 Kim Knox Beckius

    The Dan'l Webster Inn is much larger than a B&B, but its 54 rooms are all individually decorated and feature charming details and Colonial-style accents. Guests can choose a traditional, superior or deluxe room or a two- or three-bedroom suite. Many of the rooms feature four-poster canopy beds, and most suites feature whirlpool tubs and gas fireplaces.

    A winter visit to Cape Cod is ideal for those seeking not only a peaceful retreat but a bargain. The Dan'l Webster Inn offers its lowest rates during the winter season.

    For a girls' getaway, a simple room with two double beds was exactly what Jessica and I needed. Our room was in the main inn, but some of the Dan'l Webster's rooms and suites are in separate buildings, so be sure to ask about the location of your accommodations when you make your reservation.

    Sandwich is located in the northwest corner of Cape Cod—it's a town that travelers sometimes overlook on their way to mid or outer Cape destinations. The advantage of Sandwich, however, particularly for winter travelers, is that it can be reached in less time than Cape Cod towns that lie farther east. It was only about a two-and-a-half-hour drive for us to the Dan'l Webster Inn from the Hartford, Connecticut, area. After checking in to the inn on Saturday afternoon, we set out to explore Sandwich.

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  • 03 of 08

    Cool Shops and a Snowy Beach

    Snowy Beach - Winter on Cape Cod Photo
    © 2005 Kim Knox Beckius

    Shopping is, of course, an important component of any girls' getaway. Although some shops on Cape Cod close for the winter season, within walking distance of The Dan'l Webster Inn on Main Street, we discovered The Brown Jug, a gourmet food and cheese shop, where I bought a jar of Sandwich Cranberry Bog Honey from Rocky Bottom Apiaries in East Sandwich. We also took a look inside The Belfry Inne & Bistro on Jarves Street, a unique inn and restaurant in a former church.

    It was starting to get cold, so we hopped in the car and drove next to The Sandwich Village Herb Shop, a New Age-y store that specializes in bulk herbs and teas, aromatherapy products, jewelry, books and more. I imagine the shop is crowded in the summer, so it was fun to be the only two browsers.

    The sun was starting to set, so we decided to look for a beach. We found one off Route 6A as we drove toward East Sandwich. It was odd to see the Cape's famous dunes dusted with snow. I'd like to be able to tell you the name of the beach, but Jessica is a good influence on me. I left my notebook in the car and just enjoyed the novelty of strolling along the snow-covered sand, listening to the sounds of the sea and allowing the brisk February air to awaken my senses.

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  • 04 of 08

    Intimate Spa, Exclusive Spa Products

    Dan'l Webster Inn Spa Products
    © 2005 Kim Knox Beckius

    We returned to The Dan'l Webster Inn, eagerly anticipating our 6:15 p.m. spa appointments.

    The Catania family has owned The Dan'l Webster Inn since 1980. In May of 2004, in order to fulfill the growing demand for spa services, they converted the property's sales office into a spa. The spa is small, and its layout is not ideal. For example, the only restroom is located near the spa entrance, which means if nature calls while you're in mid-treatment, it's not inconceivable that you could run into the UPS man in your robe.

    There are, however, some advantages to intimacy when it comes to a spa. There are only three treatment rooms, so if you invite an additional girlfriend or two to join you on your getaway, you can easily book a block of appointments and take over the entire spa.

    The spa has been so busy that the Catanias already have plans to expand (Update: The spa was doubled in size in 2008). It is open to the public, as well as to inn guests, so if you plan to indulge in spa treatments during your girlfriends' getaway (and of course, you do!), make spa reservations well in advance.

    What the spa lacks in size, it makes up for in the uniqueness and quality of its treatments. The spa products utilized are all natural or 100 percent organic and are made exclusively for the inn by an aromatherapy apothecary in Vermont. Deb Catania, one of the inn's owners, takes a hands-on approach to designing the spa's custom treatments. "We spend hours on the phone creating things," she said of her collaboration with the spa product company.

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  • 05 of 08

    Unique Spa Treatments, Deep Relaxation

    Spa at The Dan'l Webster Inn on Cape Cod
    © 2005 Kim Knox Beckius

    Jessica had a Combination Massage with Grace, and she emerged feeling as though she had, indeed, been "touched by grace." The Combination Massage incorporates a variety of techniques including traditional Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, polarity work, and reflexology. "At some points, I was fading in and out because I was so into the relaxation of it," Jessica said.

    I enjoyed the Dan'l Webster's signature Cranberry Rose Wrap and Massage, a two-hour spa odyssey that begins with a warm towel compress and exfoliation with a cranberry rose sea salt scrub. After the invigorating scrub, a nourishing floral honey wrap is applied. The treatment concludes with a massage, but this isn't just any massage. The therapist uses a silky rose and calendula organic lavender flower body butter.

    Once again, I'll blame Jessica for the fact that I need to rely on the inn's spa brochure for most of those details. Of course, it's tough to take notes when you're being massaged with silky rose and calendula organic lavender flower body butter, and there's no way I could have remembered a product name like that in the dreamy state the treatment induced.

    What I do remember is that it was tough to step out of the warm cocoon of the spa and into the February night for the short walk back to the inn, where I knew Jessica would be waiting for me at the bar. I quickly slipped my buttery body into a dressy outfit and headed down to The Tavern.

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  • 06 of 08

    New England Cuisine with Contemporary Flair

    Dinner at Dan'l Webster Inn Cape Cod Massachusetts
    © 2005 Kim Knox Beckius

    Jessica was glad to see me. I'm pretty sure Cape Cod is the only place on Earth where a man seated near you at a bar will ask if you're "out trawlin'!"

    Our table for dinner was located in the Conservatory, one of five distinct dining areas within the Dan'l Webster Inn's main restaurant. The sign outside the inn reads: "Food & Lodging," and it's apropos that "food" comes first. The inn's General Manager and Executive Chef, Rob Catania, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with a flair for giving traditional New England cuisine a contemporary update.

    One sip of the rich Cape Cod Lobster Chowder, and I knew I'd have trouble finishing my entrée, the Veal Oscar, which also featured a garnish of lobster atop tender breaded and sautéed veal medallions. Jessica started with the Seared Tuna appetizer and raved about her main course, the Lobster and Scallop Fontina served over baby pasta. "It's just satisfying," Jessica said, as she described the dish's combination of chewy, crispy and creamy textures.

    New specials are added to the menu every month or so, allowing the inn's kitchen to take advantage of the freshest available ingredients from the land and sea.

    For those who prefer a lighter menu and a more casual atmosphere, the Tavern at the Inn recreates the aura of the Colonial tavern that stood on the property until it was destroyed by fire in 1971. The tavern was visited by prominent Patriots, including Daniel Webster.

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  • 07 of 08

    A Move to the Music Room

    Dan'l Webster Dessert Live Music Girls Getaway
    © 2005 Kim Knox Beckius

    It was actually the Music Room, one of the Dan'l Webster Inn's other dining rooms, that caught our attention after dinner. We had heard music emanating from the adjoining room throughout the evening and decided to take our desserts—crispy Banana Crème Brulee and two-inch-thick Maple Pecan Pie—next door.

    There were only a few diners lingering, and they teasingly prodded us to get up and sing with good-natured and talented piano player, Charlie Jamieson. I declined, insisting that the only tunes I knew were by either Elmo or The Wiggles. Jessica, however, was a good sport and surprised the small crowd with a fine rendition of "Misty." One of the best things about going out-of-town with girlfriends is the opportunity to let your hair down and be a bit silly. It's always a treat to hear live music, to sip wine and nibble pie with a good friend and to simply alter the pace at which life propels us from day to day.

    We hadn't intended to shut the place down, but we felt so relaxed and at home that we stayed until Charlie packed up his sheet music for the night.

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  • 08 of 08

    Brunch and Good-bye

    Dan'l Webster Inn Cape Cod Sunday Brunch Photo
    © 2005 Kim Knox Beckius

    After a restful night's sleep, we ventured downstairs for The Dan'l Webster Inn's Sunday buffet brunch, an expansive feast featuring salads, cheeses, pastries, Belgian waffles, hot entrees, desserts, an omelet bar and a carving station. We weren't exactly ravenous after our late dinner, but we enjoyed sampling the variety of choices available, particularly the fresh fruit, breakfast meats and pastas.

    Our time together on Cape Cod was less than 24 hours, but on the return trip to Connecticut, Jessica and I agreed that our girls' getaway had made a world of difference in our mental states and energy levels. A change of scenery, a bit of pampering, satisfying and comforting foods, music and laughter are amazingly restorative, and we found them all at The Dan'l Webster Inn.

    If you're ready to call your girlfriends and plan your own Cape escape, here's what you need to know about The Dan'l Webster Inn:

    Location: The Dan'l Webster Inn is located at 149 Main Street in Sandwich, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. It's just over an hour from Boston, about 2.5 hours from Hartford, and about 4.5 hours from New York. If you choose to visit in the summer, traffic will add time to your trip.

    Features: 54 rooms and suites, spa, restaurant, tavern, gift shop, outdoor pool, access to nearby fitness center.

    Room, Spa & Dining Reservations can all be made by calling. You can also check rates at

    As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary lodging and services for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, believes in full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest.