Single Occupancy: One Night in Newport, Rhode Island
By Melanie Nayer
Don’t you just hate it when ex-boyfriends ruin the facade of a popular destination? On a recent trip to Newport, Rhode Island, a flood of memories came rushing back – the beaches, hikes, the picnics, the endless summer nights (queue the Richard Marx music). While my job takes me to far away places sometimes it’s necessary to review a destination in my own backyard, regardless of its association with my past. So, how do you handle returning to a destination that’s flooded with summer-fling memories? Easy – make it all about you.
I drove into Newport just as the sun was the setting over the picturesque Pell Bridge. In an effort to capture the moment, gunned on the gas, flew over the bridge, pulled into the horseshoe drive at the Hyatt Newport Regency and threw my keys at the valet. I grabbed my Nikon and hightailed it to the back of the hotel, where I was able to capture the colors just before they faded to black. Satisfied with my accomplishment as a novice photographer, I made my way to the front desk and checked into my room for the night.
I walked into room 3314 in the Captain’s Quarter of the hotel room and took a deep breath. The room was perfect – a big enough space to move around and a private balcony so I could enjoy the crisp evening and the amazing view. I popped open a bottle of wine, made my way to the balcony and took in the fresh ocean air. A night of peace and quiet can soothe the single woman’s soul, and this starry night in Newport was exactly what this tired traveler’s soul needed.
One of the first luxuries that a travel writer lets go of is a good night’s sleep. Oddly, in a city where memories flood from romances past, I had an amazing night’s sleep. Tip: Take advantage of the blackout shades in the room. I compromised my view for a solid 8 hours of sleep and it was well worth it. I woke up ready to take on Newport.
In town are boutiques, cafes, restaurants and shops waiting to be explored. Go shopping for yourself and find something quintessential New England to take home. During the summer months, the Newport beaches are packed full of sun-soaked bodies worshiping the sun, and there’s always a sand volleyball game to watch or take part in.
When you’re traveling alone, eating alone can be a little daunting but take matters into your own hands and make the dinner worth your while. Engage in conversation with your waiter and go for the element of surprise.
I walked into One Bellevue at the Hotel Viking and let my waiter, Andrew, know I was open to surprises. When dining alone, request the chef’s favorites and indulge in appetizers, entrees and desserts. One Bellevue Executive Chef Kevin Thiele was the perfect person for the job.
My meal started with tuna sashimi appetizer salad, dressed with mangos, cilantro, wonton noodles and sesame drizzle. The combination of sweet and salty made this dish perfect. Next came the homemade ratatouille with fresh vegetables and baked mozzarella. Chef Kevin followed up with an appetizer-portion of the mushroom tortellini in a blue cheese sauce. For the main course, lamb with macadamia nut coating. For dessert, an array of bite-sized sweets. It’s easy to forget you’re dining alone when the meals are this delectable.
I walked back into the hotel after dinner and made my way through the lobby, past the two weddings taking place and toward the grand ballroom, where the hotel was hosting the Army Ball. I stood in the foyer and watched the men in uniform march around the dinner service, shaking hands with other soldiers and kissing wives and girlfriends. A symbol of patriotism sat as the centerpiece for all the tables: A gold boot with a signed tag on the shoelace, detailed where the boot owner served.
This night in Newport I forgot all about the many previous nights, took in the ambiance of the evening and promised myself a good night’s sleep. Before you nix a destination from your list due to a jaded memory, remember this: the secret to forgetting the past is to make a new future.