Boston’s Seaport Hotel on the HIstoric Harbor

By: Kriss Hammond

Boston is really where the patriots fomented their philosophies and oratories to fire up and forge a new nation on a new continent. But the natives to the region once lived on the Boston Islands long before battle cries were in the air.

I was on my own tea party — at one of Boston's most prestigious hotels in the newly renovated Old Boston Harbor area. The Seaport Hotel is ranked as one of the best places to stay according to readers who placed it on the Gold List in the 2003 Condé Naste Traveler Magazine poll.

The best way to get from Logan Airport to the Seaport Hotel is by sea - on the city water taxi ($10), but you have to jump on the Checkerboard Fleet tender because it is the only one that goes to the old wharf area. The Checkerboard Fleet has the most Boston Bay stops from the Harborside Hyatt where you embark, with direct service to the entire Boston waterfront:

The Checkerboard Fleet services Anthony's Pier 4, Fan Pier, U.S. Courthouse, Barking Crab Restaurant, Museum Wharf/Congress Street, Long Wharf at Christopher Columbus Park (the main wharf for downtown Boston), Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, Louis Wharf, Burroughs Wharf, North Station/Fleet Center, Constitution Marina and the U.S.S. Constitution (berthed in Charlestown), Shipyard Quarters Marina, and the Boston Boat Yard and Marina. Call the fleet at 617/422-0392 or catch the Harborside Hyatt airport ground shuttle to the docks, ring the big brass bell, and the taxi pulls up right to the watery curb. The boats even service the FleetBoston Pavilion steps from the Seaport Hotel where I caught the performance of Jack Johnson the first night I was in town. Conventioneers attending conferences at the World Trade Center across the street from the Seaport Hotel are offered easy access to a superb hotel setting. For return visits to the airport, the doorman, concierge, or hotel front desk can order a a tender to pick you uo.

Beantown native and taxi driver (sailor?), Bill, pointed out the Seaport Hotel from the water's edge. The Boston Harbor and wharf area has been undergoing a tremendous refit, renovation, and refurbishing, and although the Seaport Hotel is quite new (opened May 1, 1998), the Federalist Revival architectural style makes the 17-story tower a seamless blend with the older warehouse brickwork. I enjoy places that do not become garish from their surroundings, and it is evident that much thought went into the hotel's planning.

I reasoned that the Seaport Hotel's proximity to the World Trade Center across the street was why it has been bestowed all those "best of" award, including: "The Pinnacle Award" from Successful Meetings Magazine; "The Inner Circle Award" from Associations Meetings Magazine; "The Excellence of the East Award" from Meetings East Magazine; "The Planner's Choice Award; and "The Gold Key Award" from Meetings and Conventions Magazine.

The World Trade Center juts over the water offering 250,000 feet of exhibition space, with the 425-guest room Seaport Hotel offering an additional 17,000 total square feet of convention space and a luxurious 8,200 square foot ballroom.

You can even register at the hotel at the World Trade Center. How is that for convenient? The hotel offers expert meeting planning staff with ResourcePlus services. The hotel is also close to Boston's financial district (guests receive complimentary shuttle service),

Most of these awards were granted for the Seaport's high level of service, quality of food and beverage, flexible function space, and good value on room rates. But I found that the hotel is also a great family destination getaway.

Upon check in the front desk issues kids swim goggles, a sea themed gift, and Ben and Jerry's Phish Food ice cream — delivered to your room, with the "Vacation By The Sea Package". The kids will love the pool in the Health Center - it has piped in underwater music!

The hotel has developed various vacation packages, including a late June to after Labor Day "Vacation By The Sea" offer that comes with a four pack of tickets to the New England Aquarium, with complimentary water taxi for those that don't want to make the easy walk to Long Wharf. The IMAX Theater is another great complex at the same wharf, or pick up the hourly Boston Trolley tour, or walk The Freedom Trail further on to Fanueil Hall where the patriots voiced treason with a split from the Brits.

Other packages grant free admission for the family to the the Children's Museum. All packages allow the use of the Seaport's Health Club.

My favorite Seaport Hotel package is the "Wedding of Jacqueline Beuvier to John F. Kennedy Package" that is presented in conjunction with the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston; 2003 celebrates the 50th anniversary of their wedding (they were actually married only 10 years), so the package probably won't be repeated. You should visit the library/museum for the exhibit, where you will see Jackie's wedding dress, her emerald and diamond engagement ring, and color footage of the reception.

The Seaport also offers "Weekend Fitness Escapes", "Romance Packages", a "Commuter's Rest Package" and a "Grandparents Getaway Package", but I am certain the sales staff is creating even other packages for your pleasure.

I am always interested in anything nautical, so the appeal of the "Spirit of Boston Cruise Package" piqued my interest. You dine and dance the night on the luxurious private yacht Spirit of Boston, cruising the inner Boston Harbor. Maybe you will get a chance to toss tea overboard. Then you stay overnight at the Seaport Hotel with full buffet breakfast in the morning.

I was checking my email in the "off the lobby" kiosk's solo computer when I learned of the Seaport Hotel's separate 24-hour business center with high speed internet access. Then I found out each room is complete with a dataport, and the hotel has gone wireless.

Well, hi WiFi. No need for the 24-hour Concierge, except I still like the personal touch when arranging sailing trips because the concierge knows the skippers personally.

The Seaport offers a few transportation options for guests interested in visiting other areas of Boston. The South Station shuttle, which runs Monday — Friday, providing convenient access to the MBTA's red line subway and from there, they can connect to the green and orange lines. Additionally, the Seaport Hotel operates a shuttle on Saturdays going to South Station and Faneuil Hall. The Concierge can make arrangements for other private ground transportation, including service by BostonCoach. The water shuttle, operated in partnership with the MBTA, leaves from the World Trade Center and stops at the U.S. Courthouse (providing access to the Children's Museum and Tea Party Ship), and Lovejoy Wharf (access to the North End and other historical monuments).

I felt it was time to check out the old historic waterfront that has seen centuries of use. Everyone at the hotel is knowledgeable of their neighborhood. The bellman directed me to the East Wharf area to find out his favorite local "No Name Restaurant". After a dark walk down a cobblestoned quay stretching the length of long rows of brick warehouses, I found the second story fishery packed with locals crowding in before the FleetBoston arena concert beating in the nightscape background. I found a stool quickly at the bar and ordered the famous clam chowder from "Pop" who has been serving drinks here since the revolt.

After the FleetBoston concert I relaxed in the Seaport's lobby lounge bar near the 4-Diamond, 110-seat, non-smoking, Aura Restaurant. The Aura is a signature cuisine winner in Boston, allowing kids under 12 free dining with adults with the "Vacation By The Sea Package".

Aura Executive Chef John Merrill grew up on Long Island, New York, and has been a fish cutter since his teens. After degrees at the Culinary Institute of America in Hartford, Connecticut, he served as Rounds Cook, Sous Chef and Banquet Chef for many prestigious resorts on the East Coast, including the Reach Resort in Key West, Florida, and the Boston Harbor Hotel, where he was the Garde Manage Chef. Since the Seaport's 1998 opening Chef Merrill has been creating many award winning culinary presentations with elegant dining overlooking the harbor lights.

He selects specialty New England farmers and purveyors for fresh homegrown ingredients that are blended splendidly into wonderful textures and flavors. You may have caught him on "Ready, Set, Cook" on the Food Network, or at the Boston Wine ExpoFree Reprint Articles, which the Seaport Hotel sponsors. For Aura restaurant reservations call

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