Last week, I explored the Eastern Shore of Maryland with my family and am excited to share my experiences with you! We began with a couple of days in St. Michaels and Easton, then Ocean City, and back to Cambridge before going home. I am actually starting at the end with our stay at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina along with a recipe for S’mores French Toast.
Disclosure: I received a one night stay at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay and a complimentary breakfast. All comments and opinions are my own. Prices listed are for the time of this post (June 2017), subject to change.
The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa, and Marina is located in Cambridge, Maryland along Choptank River. It opened in 2002 and sits on 342 acres with 400 guest rooms.
We only stayed one night, but it was the perfect way to wrap up our vacation. I particularly loved how accessible the resort was for children while still having an upscale feel with opportunities for adults to find some peace and quiet.
Our stop in Cambridge also helped break up the trip back to DC from Ocean City. It was only a 2 hour drive (120 miles) from the resort to our home in Northern Virginia (87 miles to Baltimore, 131 miles to Philadelphia).
The Four Diamond property is currently undergoing a 7 million dollar renovation. Most of the guest rooms have been completed while the remainder should be done by December. There are also plans for other areas of the resort like the lobby.
We stayed on the third floor down a long hallway in the secluded west side of the hotel. The corner room had a water view overlooking the golf course with windows on two sides. While it was a bit of a walk to the pools and other amenities, I enjoyed that it was more secluded without outdoor noise or foot traffic. If you want to closer to the action, the rooms surrounding the pools may be a better option. Here are the types of rooms available. The resort is also pet-friendly with up to two dogs allowed, combined weight of 75 pounds or one pet 50 pounds or less (deposit required). There are nine pet-friendly rooms and outdoor kennels.
The room was immaculate upon inspection with an incredibly spacious bathroom. I loved that the tub had a reclining back for comfort. Evan seemed to focus on the fact that the shower head was shaped like a square compared to the more common circle. It is funny sometimes the little details children seem to notice.
We also had a balcony with two wicker chairs and a table. While the corner rooms have larger balconies, it looks like the other rooms have an area just large enough to step outside.
The room also had a desk, coffee maker, mini fridge, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, safe, and flat screen TV with premium cable (including HBO, CNN, and ESPN). There was a note on the bed for breakfast-in-bed room service that you can hang on your doorknob the day before and set a time for delivery in the morning.
We were starving after traveling on the road, so I ordered room service while we were getting settled in. Delivery takes 45 minutes or less and there were a variety of (somewhat pricey) options. We had two salads (the Chesapeake Cobb Salad was quite delicious and I plan on remaking it at home soon) while the kids enjoyed a smoothie and fruit plate with yogurt.
While the resort overall is child-friendly, there are a few areas for the adults to enjoy such as hidden alcoves on the first floor, the business center, pool tables, and the Michener’s Library (photos above on left and right, named after the author of Chesapeake) with a lounge and stone fireplaces on either side. The lounge offers a short menu along with beer, wine, and cocktails and no one under the age of 21 is permitted after 9 pm.
The 18 hole championship golf course is available to hotel guests and the public. It has two finishing holes and is open year-round. Hotel guests receive a 10% discount off the rates. Here is more information on the course.
The Grand Fireplace (photo above) is surrounded by tables and chairs to enjoy a drink or s’mores in the evening. The large chess board was also a big hit.
There are three pools (depending on the season) available. Evan and I walked around all three and he was immediately drawn to the outdoor activity pool with the waterslide. We had just gotten Claire dressed for the pool too when she passed out. Apparently five days of nap refusal for the normally 2-3 hour napping two-year old caught up with her. She took complete advantage of the comfortable bed and slept until dinnertime- which may have been a mistake. Between the late nap and s’mores for dessert, she was bright eyed and alert until 11 pm.
Evan pretty much spent the whole time on a constant loop with the slide. He was so excited to find that he was just a couple of inches over the height requirement of 40 inches. As a note, a life jacket is required for those under 48 inches and stamps are also needed for children to enter (located at the towel hut near the indoor pool). For those too little to enjoy the slide, there are plenty of pool toys available for purchase. It was quite nice that Evan has gotten to the somewhat independent stage where he can navigate the slide on his own, wait his turn, and swim back to the stairs to repeat. I was able to just sit back and watch for the first summer in a long time.
The Indoor Pool is open year-round for those that visit during the chillier months. The glass-enclosed pool features activities throughout the day and dive-in movies on select nights. While we were walking through, there was a Token Dive to search for change to spend at the arcade. There is also an Indoor/Outdoor hot tub (for those 16 and older). The first hour of opening is reserved for adults (and the outdoor pools close at 6 pm).
Dock’s Poolside Bar (select hours) offers lunch and snacks with beverages and chair or walk-up service around the pool.
The outdoor Cresent Pool has an infinity design with certain views giving the illusion of the water flowing straight to the river.
There is a small strip of beach with lounge chairs below the outdoor pools, but swimming is not recommended.
Other activities include tennis, beach volleyball, miniature golf (a simple course perfect for younger children), frisbee golf, foot golf, and a game room with an arcade and tables.
The River Marsh Marina has 150 slips ranging from 30-feet long and 16 -feet wide to 80-feet long and 25-feet wide. They feature electric, cable, wireless internet, water hookup, and access to guest privileges. Don’t own a boat? You can also rent kayaks, paddle boards, boats, and jet skis.
The Bay Country Market is located on the second floor to the right of the lobby. It has a variety of souvenirs, toiletries, magazines, snacks, drinks, and homemade treats available along with fresh Starbucks items. I picked up our S’mores kits here to enjoy later in the evening. The kit includes marshmallows, a chocolate bar, graham crackers, moist towelettes (as the mother of a two year old- I really appreciated these), and two wooden sticks.
You can also bring your own ingredients from home to make the S’mores. The Grand Fireplace outside opens at 6 pm and lasts until the fire goes out (roughly around 10 pm). This activity inspired the National S’mores Day (August 10th) event with the Girl Scout councils from the mid-Atlantic.
While Claire loved eating the S’mores, Evan was more interested in just catching the marshmallows on fire.
Photo above of the sunrise from our room.
We had breakfast at Water’s Edge Grill before checking out. The restaurant is also open for lunch and dinner (reservations recommended). Other dining options on the property include Blue Point Provision (5-10 milk walk from the resort along the water) and Eagles Nest Bar & Grille (at River Marsh Golf Club).
If you missed your S’mores fix the night before, it can be remedied at breakfast (or enjoy both like I did) with the S’mores French Toast. I was going back and forth between the French Toast and the Breakfast Sandwich (shaved Virginia ham, Chapelle cheese, cage free fried egg on a croissant and breakfast potatoes) before ultimately deciding on the former. I am so glad I did. It was a wonderful combination of chocolate, toasted marshmallows, and graham cracker-coated french toast without being over-the-top sweet. I was told that the recipe was actually just updated to make it a little lighter.
Chad picked the Crab Cake Benedict (two crab cakes on a toasted English muffin with poached eggs, sautéed spinach, Old Bay Hollandaise, and breakfast potatoes). There is a kids menu with crayons available, but Evan and Claire both decided the buffet (currently 20.95 for adults, free for children under five).
The buffet (when available) offered an assortment of breakfast treats separated into hot and cold sections. There were also stations for made-to-order omelets with a variety of toppings and a waffle bar. Staff stood nearby and were happy to answer any questions or help if needed.
It was not open during the time of our visit due to nesting, but the resort also houses the 18 acre Blue Heron Rookery with bald eagles and blue herons.
We didn’t try Camp Hyatt since Claire is too young and Evan needs a little more time to get comfortable in new environments, but it is a great program for kids to have a bit of fun while giving parents a chance to relax. There are full and half-days slots.
The fitness center is open 24 hours a day and has 5 treadmills, 4 elliptical trainers, 2 lifecycles, and 1 recumbent cycle along with an assortment of strength equipment. All of the cardio equipment has a built in screen and complimentary headphones. Yoga classes are also available on select dates.
I also did not check out the Sago Spa & Salon personally, but it has 13 soothing treatment rooms, a steam and sauna, full retail area, and a salon with hair, makeup, and nail stations.
There are also special events throughout the year. Coming up August 19-26th is the 8th Annual Crab Week with pool races, demos, games, sand-art and sandy candy, crab soccer, and other fun-filled events.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay and an extra day or two would have been perfect to fully explore all the amenities and the surrounding area. It is close to the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center and the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (more on those next week) and also a short drive to other towns along the Eastern Shore (17 miles to Easton and 27 miles to St Michaels).
With my love of the S’mores flavor combination (see S’mores Muffins, Baked S’mores Doughnuts, S’mores Ice Cream, Frozen S’mores, S’mores Cookies, and even Peppermint S’mores Dip), I decided to remake the S’mores French Toast at home. While looking up recipes, I found that most included a layer of thick chocolate and marshmallows on the inside of the stuffed French Toast along with more marshmallows and chocolate on top.
In keeping with the slightly lighter option, I spread a layer of Nutella on each side of the bread before forming into a sandwich, coating in an egg mixture, and covering with crushed graham crackers. After pan-frying, I topped the French toast sandwiches with halved marshmallows (mini marshmallows would also work here or even a marshmallow creme) and broiled them just until toasted. To finish, I drizzled a little chocolate sauce over the top along with a few mini chocolate chips.
To quickly crush the graham crackers, they can be processed in a food processor or placed in a plastic bag and rolled over a few times with a heavy rolling pin until fine.
I often use ghee (clarified butter) or a mixture of butter and oil to keep the butter from getting too dark while frying the French toast. The chocolate sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 thick slices white bread
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup crushed graham crackers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
12 marshmallows, halved
Mini chocolate chips for garnish
To make the chocolate sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and cocoa powder over medium heat. Cook, whisking often, until smooth and bubbling. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt and vanilla extract. Whisk occasionally to keep a skin from forming and set aside while preparing the French Toast.
To make the French Toast: Spread Nutella over one side of each slice of bread. Assemble the slices into sandwiches, Nutella sides together.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Pour the crushed graham crackers on a rimmed plate.
In a skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium low heat.
Dip a sandwich into the egg mixture and coat thoroughly. Allow the excess to drip off, then coat thoroughly in the graham cracker crumbs. Place in the heated skillet and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Flip and cook the other side, then the edges briefly. Transfer to a baking sheet, then repeat with remaining sandwiches, adding more butter as needed.
Top the prepared French Toast with marshmallow halves or mini marshmallows and place the baking sheet under a broiler set on low until the marshmallows are melty and toasted (this happens quickly, keep an eye on it).
Serve immediately drizzled with the chocolate sauce and mini chocolate chips.