On the Pleasant shore of Watch Hill, Rhode Island, near the southern border of Connecticut, stands a proud Easter-egg yellow hotel. The Ocean House experience can be described most simply as charming. For one thing, the historic beach hotel—celebrating a 10th anniversary since its grand replication in 2010—is one of the last remaining Victorian Era hotels of its kind. With its strip of tan beach, it is an iconic structure that evokes a timeless elegance, punctuated by its lush croquet courts and long white veranda.
Since 1868, it has become a summer resort of notable people; in 2004 it was nearly torn down and turned in to homes. But it survived, just as it had through wars and the Great Depression. Now the hotel and its community must face a global pandemic.
Fortunately, they are well prepared. I am told by Deborah Royce—who, along with her husband, Chuck, purchased the property in 2004—that Ocean House’s food truck, usually reserved for parties, is driven into the town of Westerly, Rhode Island, to provide kids out of school with meals made in the hotel’s restaurants. “Families are really struggling,” Royce explained over the phone, noting how many parents rely on schools for meals for their children.
Already, Ocean House is making efforts to help both its community and staff. There are images and videos posted on social media, highlighting the initiatives. Families are given meals delivered in the food truck; in another video, the staff clap for healthcare workers. “It’s really uplifting…and we’ll continue to support the community as we have in the past,” assured Royce.
Ocean House is a hotel steeped in both history and modern comforts, including a fitness center, the croquet court, a billiard room, spas, and a heated indoor lap pool. Plus, it features original elements that were harvested during the $140 million renovation, which were incorporated into the new design. For instance, its front desk, light fixtures, and fireplaces. Ocean House is one of only 13 hotels in the world that have Triple Five Star status, according to Forbes Travel Guide, and a history book was recently released, highlighting its rich past and present.
But as Royce pointed out, that’s not all the hotel has to offer. Its charitable acts speak volumes right now. Ocean House, while currently following government guidelines, reports that the hotel will re-open with safety procedures and protocols in every department. It has stood strong sine 1868. And it will persevere, helping and adapting whenever necessary. Says Royce, “We’re committed to doing everything we can to make things better.”