The Seaport Hotel – Redefining South Boston

The Seaport Hotel – Redefining South Boston
My 190-degree view from the Seaport Hotel stretched all the way from the airport across the full length of the harbor, to the whole of Boston’s downtown skyline. In the foreground I looked over the roofs of the fish pier, the Seaport World Trade Center and the new Institute of Contemporary Art, cantilevered above the shore.

I had, quite possibly, the best view in town, and from this lofty position and totally relaxed from my recent pampering, I reflected on the sudden changes in this part of the city.

Boston used to end at the Fort Point Channel. Apart from the Children’s Museum and its iconic milk bottle just over the bridge and Anthony’s Pier 4, just over the other bridge, South Boston was a world apart. Even after the Seaport World Trade Center opened, the area around it remained an isolated stretch of vast parking lots and the fish pier. Visitors had little reason to explore beyond the channel’s banks.

But all that changed in a short time. As the Seaport Hotel gave people a reason to stay, with Wave Health & Fitness spa, Aura restaurant and a bar with harbor views, others followed. Boston’s best-known seafood restaurant, Legal Seafood, has opened an innovative branch just up Northern Avenue from the hotel.

The biggest news to hit the neighborhood since the hotel itself was built, is the December 2006 opening of the Institute of Contemporary Art, in one of Boston’s premier new buildings. The first US work of the architectural firm of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the building extends dramatically over the harbor, with vast expanses of glass providing superb views and also extraordinary opportunities for displaying art. The building also allows the institute to expand their program to performing arts, another plus for the neighborhood.

The Seaport Hotel is far more than a magnet drawing attention to the neighborhood. It’s a class act from the minute you pull up to the door and the bellman that unloads your suitcases smilingly refuses a tip. The Service-Inclusive policy extends throughout the property – even to the Aura restaurant and the spa, a happy surprise that elevates service to its rightful place, and hotel staff to theirs.

We were in Boston on the serious business of having a relaxing summer weekend in the city. But if our business had been of the usual kind, we could have taken advantage of the 24-hour Business Center. We did use the free in-room wireless internet, and the in-room interactive web portal with for local tourist information to help us plan our days.

Which were pretty full, as we explored the entire newly revitalized waterfront area, following the new HarborWalk it’s full length from the Children’s Museum and South Station all the way around the waterfront to the North End. Along it are restaurants, parks, cafes, shops, the Aquarium and several opportunities for cruises.

After all the walking I was ready for the chocolate wrap I’d scheduled for late afternoon at Wave. The website didn’t have any information on it, but I had envisioned being slathered in gooey dark chocolate. It turned out that Wave’s version is a vanilla chocolate wrap, so I was instead slathered with a cappuccino-colored mixture the consistency of Bavarian cream.

My therapist, Raleigh (a beautiful woman with a smile that must be setting back efforts to slow global warming), told me about the ingredients she stirred this bowl of warm chocolate that was about to restore and rejuvenate my thirsty skin. Only dark chocolate, she told me (is there any other kind), for its anti-oxidant properties. I learned that chocolate is good for a sore throat – can’t wait to try that cure.

The wrap left my skin feeling as smooth as the center of a Godiva truffle, but it also left me smelling heavily of vanilla. It was strong enough that the receptionist asked from the other side of the lobby desk if I’d just had the chocolate wrap. As dinnertime approached, I realized the error of my timing.

The senses of taste and smell are too closely aligned to arrive at table with one of them already fully engaged, and I did not intend to compromise my appreciation of Aura Chef Frank Toohey’s artistry with my own strong aura of vanilla. So I sank into the tub and scrubbed again, until I was able to enter a room without heads turning for the wrong reason.

It was a wise decision, because Chef Toohey’s dinner deserved full attention of all my senses, from the grilled foie gras the texture of silk to the bittersweet chocolate tart.

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