Travel

Harbor Hotel Provincetown Makes Waves

by Sandy MacDonald
Contributor
Thursday Jun 7, 2012
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For years - decades! - I could see only one possible use for that dreary, boxy motel at the far eastern edge of Provincetown: the parking lot lent itself beautifully to last-minute wardrobe adjustments prior to pulling into town.

Reopened last summer after a "ground-up" overhaul spearheaded by historic preservationist Bob Thomas of Turnstone Property, the 1970s complex - a perfect example, he says, of "midcentury modern: the cheesy aspects" - has bounced back as a chic, low-key showplace.

Now 129 sleek rooms - in a SoBe palette of aqua and lime - surround a pool with a cabana bar, and a restaurant/lounge fronts a convivial firepit surrounded by Adirondack chairs, which in turn look out across the bay, where Provincetown’s iconic Monument rudely prods the skyline.

Town proper is a bit of a hike: it’s accessible by car (don’t even try: in-season parking is hellacious), bus shuttle, or - best bet - loaner bike.


The hotel is admittedly in a sleepy part of town. However, if you’ve ever elbowed your way down Front Street of a summer evening, you know that at a certain point you’ll be grateful to have a reliable respite from the fray awaiting you at day’s end.

And in the past year, the hotel itself has grown so popular, it’s becoming a scene in its own right, hosting community-minded events such as the recent reception to celebrate Stephanie Foster’s photo show "The Dune Shack Experience," part of the second annual Provincetown Green Arts Festival (the work stays up through May).

Last summer, while the hotel was still undergoing finishing touches, I was lucky enough to book a room during the Provincetown International Film Festival (the hotel is already fully booked for this year’s PIFF, June 13-17).

"It’s black-out weekend," the desk clerk warned me. "It’ll be pretty crazy."


"I’m counting on it," I replied, imagining a greater-than-usual influx of tourists.

But, it turned out what he was alluding to was the vernacular for the annual Women of Color convocation (to be held this year May 31 - June 1).

Here I was expecting tight quarters, and instead I found myself joyfully surrounded by what Khadijah, Queen Latifah’s character on "Living Single," envisioned when challenged to describe a world without men: "a lot of fat, happy women."

We got chummy crowding around the hotel’s bountiful complimentary breakfast buffet, then went our separate ways - they to a panoply of social events, and I to a series of 18-hour-a-day filmic orgies.

I’ll have to come up with some other form of shelter for this year’s film festival, and plan my pleasure trips for midweek. Happily, Harbor Hotel is open year-round. I can foresee plenty of large-scale house parties - including many a blow-out wedding - in its sunny, cheerified future.

For info and booking, see Harbor Hotel Provincetown.

ARTBEAT: Harbor Hotel also recently announced ARTBEAT - a series of exhibits celebrating the Provincetown Art Experience. Visitors and locals alike are enjoying the scene the hotel has to offer - from live music at the Whaler Lounge to a pool and Cabana Bar.

The addition of rotating art exhibits is just another reason to make the trip.

The first exhibit opens on Friday, June 15th and exhibits will rotate throughout the summer and into the fall.
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Sandy MacDonald (www.sandymacdonald.com) is a travel writer and theatre critic based in New York, Cambridge, and Nantucket.

This article is part of our "Summer 2012" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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