Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Vacationing In Provincetown: Land's End to John Randall (Part 2)

On a sunny summer morning, you wake up and step out onto your porch, looking out at the ocean, the boats in the harbor, the beach. Serenity engulfs you, and for that time, any and all of your problems vanish. The essence of a relaxing vacation.

There are over 90 inns in Provincetown and the writers on our trip were split up, staying at different inns across the length of the town. I ended up at the inn that was the farthest from the downtown but that was not an issue as I got to spend two wonderful nights at the Land's End Inn, located on Gulf Hill near the end of the West End region.

Back in the later 1800s, the main road ended at this point, the rest of the land being primarily tidal flats and marshes. So this location was then known as the "land's end." Since that time, the surrounding area has been built up so that now roads and land extend beyond this region. It may not longer be the literal land's end, but it still is fairly close to the end. This neighborhood is more a residential area, a quieter region, with a few inns scattered around.

The Land's End Inn has an interesting history, extending back to Charles Lothrop Higgins, who was born in Provincetown and eventually purchased the Gull Hill area in 1903. Higgins could trace his ancestry to the Mayflower, a descendant of Peregrine White, who had been born aboard ship in Provincetown Harbor in 1620. As a young boy, Charles left Provincetown and became a hat maker in Boston. After buying Gulf Hill, he decided to build a summer house atop it and he became known as a supporter of the theater and arts.

After his death in 1926, the Buckler family purchased the house and began to rent rooms. They were world travelers and brought home numerous intriguing souvenirs, placing them within the inn, and some of those items can still be found there. Eventually, in 1972, David Schoolman purchased the inn and his renovations and additions brought the inn close to its current form. He added more antiques, artwork and other unique items to the decor of the inn and one of the suites at the inn is now named after him.

In December 2012, the current owners, Stan and Eva Sikorski purchased the property. They first started visiting Provincetown back in 1966 and always have had a special love for the town. Seeking a new career, they decided to enter the hospitality industry and purchase an inn. As they were seeking an opportunity, their daughters, Natalia and Julia, somehow found a listing for the Land's End Inn. The Sikorskis fell in love with the inn and now are doing their best to continue its tradition as a superior accommodation. They were quite welcoming to me, and their passion for Provincetown and the Inn was quite clear. They have no plans to make any significant changes to the Inn, preferring to maintain its charm and eclectic style.

The inn currently has 18 different guest rooms, each distinctive and with its own name, roughly priced at $300-$600 a night with discounts during the off season. About 70%-80% of their guests are return guests, and some people have been coming here for over thirty years. It is a place that has engendered customer loyalty. About 75%-80% of their guests are from the New England/New York region though they have some international guests, as well as Hollywood celebrities during some of the film festival weeks. Weddings are also held here so a large wedding party can sometimes take most of the rooms. During the winter, most of their guests are from Cape Cod.

The Inn provides a continental breakfast each morning, including fruit, bagels, hard boiled eggs, cereal, coffee, tea and more. In the afternoons, they also have a wine reception, where you can sip a glass of wine while sitting on the porch, enjoying the stupendous view. The common rooms in the inn are packed full of an eclectic and fascinating mix of antiques and exotic items. You'll find items from all over the world and you will find similar items in the various inn rooms as well. You never know what you might find in any particular corner, shelf or niche. I found so many intriguing items scattered around the inn.

The antique that most caught my attention was a Chinese urn with a fascinating and creepy backstory. The urn is supposed to be a representation of Meng Po, the Lady of Forgetfulness in Chinese mythology. Meng Po lives in the Chinese realm of the dead, and it is her function to give a mystical tea of forgetfulness to all the souls who enter the realm. That tea will wipe their memories so that they can be reincarnated without remembering anything of their prior lives. This particular urn allegedly contains the ashes of a revered Buddhist monk. That is intriguing on its own, but the legend gets eerier.

The legend of this urn states in the 19th century, a drunken American sailor stole it from a Buddhist monastery. Somehow, after all of its travels, it ended up at the Land's End Inn where it is thought to be cursed. It is claimed that grave misfortune, and even maybe death, comes to anyone who dares touch it. The urn has been placed up high on a shelf so that no guest can touch it, intentionally or accidentally, and suffer the curse. Would you risk touching it?

The Schoolman Suite, where I stayed, is an expansive and luxurious room, with two bedrooms, one on a small second floor. The arc window, visible above, looks into that second bedroom, a stunning and romantic room. There is a large living room, with a flat screen TV, and it leads out to an expansive deck where you could probably have a party with twenty friends. The view from the deck is amazing, looking out at the shore and sea, a superb panoramic scope. This is luxury suite sure to please most any guest and I felt fortunate to have stayed here. If you want to splurge for a special occasion, like an anniversary or birthday, this would be a perfect place to do so.

The inn is located roughly a mile from the downtown area, which is an easy and pleasant walk on a nice day. At night, or in inclement weather, you might want to take a cab or pedicab. It is far enough away to give you more quiet and privacy, while being close enough to easily access the more vibrant downtown area.

I also spent a single night at the John Randall House, an inn located on Bradford Street, only a short walk from Fisherman's Wharf. Rooms are more reasonably priced, from about $150-$220, though they are also smaller, more like a typical quaint inn. My room was clean and comfortable, and it is at an excellent location. On vacation, sometimes you just want a simple place to sleep and this inn would serve that purpose quite well.

To Be Continued....

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