i+D - July/August 2021 - 40

Nostalgia melds with playful seaside
luxury at Congress Hall in Cape May,
New Jersey.
Be Our Guest - By Diana Mosher
(Image: Courtesy of Brown Hall Design)
The Allure
of Nostalgia
When guests post pictures of their classic
American seaside vacation at Congress Hall in
Cape May, New Jersey, or Baron's Cove Inn in
Sag Harbor, New York, they capture the nostalgia
of simpler times, but the interiors are fresh
and timeless. " The design infuses branding and
vice versa, " says Colleen Bashaw, president
and principal designer at Brown Hall Design and
executive director of design at Cape Resorts, a
family business led by her brother and managing
partner Curtis Bashaw.
" For Congress Hall the objective has been to
create a colorful and cozy experience, " says
Bashaw. Her grandfather purchased the property
in the late '60s, and Curtis Bashaw took over the
property and began an extensive restoration and
renovation project in the '90s. But the resort's
history began much earlier in 1816 as a seaside
boarding house and later included a stint as the
summer White House for President Benjamin
Harrison. " Nineteenth-century composer John
Philip Sousa conducted concerts on the lawn, and
in 1882 he created the Congress Hall March in
honor of the hotel, " says Bashaw, who had the
photo blown up for the Brown Room, the resort's
prohibition-era cocktail lounge.
Other spaces were brightened by introducing
pinks and blues and yellows. Colorful rag rugs
and white furniture make guest rooms feel fun
but sophisticated. " You always know you are on
vacation-guests want to feel that, and I do think
Cape Resorts properties accomplish that, " she
says. " Initially at Congress Hall we had desks
in every guest room. The irony was no one was
using them. People said they wanted more
drawer space instead. Then COVID happened, and
now everyone wants a desk. "
Colleen
Bashaw
40
i+D - July/August 2021
Sag Harbor's history as a whaling
town played into the design
decisions at Baron's Cove.
(Image: Courtesy of Brown Hall Design)
Sag Harbor is also steeped in history; it's a classic whaling town, set on the
East End of Long Island. " It was important that I get it right, because Baron's
Cove Inn is the only Sag Harbor hotel property on the water. There's not a
lot of that in the Hamptons, " says Bashaw. " I got my head into the history
of Sag Harbor and the whaling captains who lived there. They brought back
exotic pieces of trim and ideas from all over the world. They built amazing
homes. Each one was more unique than the next. "
Baron's Cove needed to feel like it had been in Sag Harbor forever, especially
the new ground-up construction for the main part of the property with a
restaurant and bar. Bashaw says, " We used a lot of reclaimed items including
a beautiful reclaimed floor. We used a lot of trim detailing. We didn't skimp
on details in the new building. "
Bashaw started her career at the iconic American design firm Parish-Hadley,
and she infuses her hospitality spaces with the comforts of residential
design (like comfortable chairs in every guest room)-but always makes
it feels like vacation. " It's in the colors and the finishes, " she says. " I love
to do a painted floor. That's not something people necessarily have in their
homes. I like to give every light, every carpet, every piece of furniture its own
understated sense of joy and fun. "

i+D - July/August 2021

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