The Cambridge Hyatt offers boaters a taste of the good life in more ways than one.

by Jane Meneely

The Choptank River is one of the most interesting cruising destinations on the Bay, with lots of nooks and crannies and places to explore--especially if you're on a powerboat and can slide beneath the Route 50 bridge. That "new" bridge (completed in 1987 to replace the old drawbridge) effectively stops boats needing more than 50 feet of clearance from heading upriver. This is too bad, because on the other side of the span lies the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina, a beacon of luxury on the banks of the Choptank. This swanky spot offers boaters a combination of entertainment, recreation, fine food and dockside amenities. While luxury vacation spa destinations like the Hyatt Regency are not unheard of on the Chesapeake (Kingsmill Resort and Spa on the James River, for example, and the redeveloped Tides Inn on the Rappahannock), this is really the only one of its scale in the middle Bay.

The Hyatt's River Marsh Marina sits on the south shore, just beyond the Choptank River bridge. You can't miss it--the massive hotel rises up behind the marina like a palace. Its 150 slips, however, don't come cheap. You'll pay $3.25/foot on holiday weekends, $2 to $3 the rest of the time. But you get a lot of fun for your slip fee, and the run of the entire Hyatt complex.

We pulled in when the marina first opened, and, admittedly, things were still a little rough. There were problems with the dockside electricity that have since been resolved, we're told. (We've had no problems on subsequent visits.) And the landside facilities--showers and toilets--weren't really adequate to handle the holiday crowd. For what we'd paid for the slip, we didn't like waiting in line. But on later trips at less hectic times, everything was fine. Terrific, in fact.

The marina sits well away from the hotel proper, which gives a sense of privacy. A well stocked marine store is adjacent to the pier. Nearby, the casually elegant Blue Point Provision Company (410-901-6410) offers waterside dining with lots of fresh seafood. The hotel's other eateries range from haute cuisine to poolside cafe casual. And there's always something to do, from the Hyatt's golf course and pools, to its game rooms, spa facilities and beach. You can swim in the indoor pool, watch cool movies, or take a Sailfish out for a spin on the river. When we opted to go into town for dinner, the marina arranged for transportation. It turned out to be relatively inexpensive, and our driver was particularly friendly and engaging.

Cambridge is a town on the move, and welcoming boaters is part of their new game plan. The municipal marina is undergoing extensive renovation and the downtown area is humming with new shops and activities. And the Hyatt, at the center of it all, makes for a mighty soft landing.

River Marsh Marina
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina
Cambridge, Md. 410-901-6380
Fuel: gas and diesel
Depth: 7 ft

[04.07 issue]