Shelter Island: Where to stay and play

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Change comes slowly -- and rarely -- to Shelter Island.

Summer after summer, the hills roll, the marshes rustle and the waves lap the crescent beaches. The hospitality scene is similarly constant: a dozen or so bed and breakfasts, and six small hotels.

This year, however, change is afoot on the hotel front: The venerable Chequit has been completely renovated by new owners, and another set of new owners has taken over La Maison Blanche and renamed it Shelter Island House.

Here's a rundown of Shelter Island's hotels. Be forewarned that in most cases, hotels require a two- or three-day minimum stay, and rates may vary depending on the month or day of the week.

The Chequit

The Chequit (23 Grand Ave., 631-749-0018, thechequit.com) Since
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

The Chequit (23 Grand Ave., 631-749-0018, thechequit.com)

Since it was built in 1872 as a retreat for Methodists, the Chequit has occupied the high ground in Shelter Island Heights, the island's "downtown." This year, the old Victorian got a complete overhaul by its new owner, Salt Hotels, which operates two boutique inns in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The new design is sleek without sacrificing any rustic, seaside charm and all the rooms have modern baths and luxuriously appointed beds.

Highlights of The Chequit on Shelter Island: Adjacent
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

Highlights of The Chequit on Shelter Island: Adjacent to restaurants, shops and the Shelter Island Heights Pharmacy (an old-fashioned drugstore-luncheonette), the Chequit is the only hotel on the island that's within walking distance of anything else. No TVs in the rooms, but iPads with streaming services are complimentary.

The hotel's restaurant, Red Maple, is due to open later this month. Executive chef Richard Pims (formerly of The Sea Fire Grill in Manhattan) plans a New American menu with local produce. The grab-and-go White Hill Café sells sandwiches, baked goods and Jack's Stir Brew Coffee. Breakfast is a continental buffet for hotel guests.

The Chequit comprises three buildings. Rates per night
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

The Chequit comprises three buildings. Rates per night in the Main House (19 rooms or suites) and The Cottage (11 rooms or suites) are $345 to $595 for rooms and $595 to $895 for suites.

The Summer House has six smaller, non-air-conditioned rooms, $195 to $395 per night. Open year round.

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Shelter Island House

Shelter Island House (11 Stearns Point Rd., 631-749-1633,
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

Shelter Island House (11 Stearns Point Rd., 631-749-1633, shelterislandhouse.com)

In 2011, Shelter Island's venerable Olde Country Inn got a French makeover, emerging as the Gallic-chic La Maison Blanche. This year, the wooded property has been taken over by sisters Suzanne Walsh and Janet Rogler, who have summered on the island since they were children. "We wanted to recreate the Shelter Island experience we had when we were kids," Walsh said. The sisters didn't touch the rooms' new marble bathrooms or the pétanque courts in the front yard (pétanque is a French variant of boccie), but the decor is now more "beachy-chic."

Highlights of the Shelter Island House: Shelter Island
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

Highlights of the Shelter Island House: Shelter Island House excels in outdoor seating -- there's always another porch, patio or deck around the corner as well as a pool, and those pétanque courts. They'll pick you up at the ferry and / or take you to the beach (and provide chairs, umbrellas and towels). Complimentary bikes, too. TVs in all rooms.

The restaurant, helmed by John Weston (formerly of Montauk's Harvest) is a collaboration between Shelter Island House and the well-regarded island restaurant SALT. The menu is rustic New American (Caesar salad with house-smoked duck, chia-crusted salmon with vegetable tagliatelle). Dinner is served Wednesday through Sunday, brunch Saturday and Sunday, lunch Friday and Monday; breakfast is a continental buffet for hotel guests.

The Shelter Island House inn has 10 rooms,
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

The Shelter Island House inn has 10 rooms, ranging from $275 to $425 per night. The "Osprey suite," with three bedrooms, two baths and a full kitchen is $950 per night. Open year round.

Pridwin Resort Hotel

Pridwin Resort Hotel (81 Shore Rd., 631-749-0476, pridwin.com)
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

Pridwin Resort Hotel (81 Shore Rd., 631-749-0476, pridwin.com)

Year after year, families return to spend their summer vacations at The Pridwin. The 90-year-old beachfront hotel overlooking Peconic Bay has been owned by Richard and Edith Petry since 1962, and they've made very few changes. In fact, said their son Glenn Petry, recent redesigns have reclaimed the property's midcentury splendor from some ill-advised decorative missteps in the 1970s.

Highlights at Pridwin Resort Hotel: Kids and active
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

Highlights at Pridwin Resort Hotel: Kids and active adults have plenty to do at the Pridwin: there's a large pool and a private beach, three tennis courts, kayaks and paddleboards to rent. During dinner, kids can watch movies in a supervised room while parents dine in peace. TVs in all rooms.

The Pridwin's dining room is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The huge waterfront deck offers one of Shelter Island's best views. The menu is American and features fish caught by the Petrys themselves. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the restaurant. Wednesday night there's an all-you-can-eat cookout.

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The Pridwin Resort Hotel consists of 40 rooms
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

The Pridwin Resort Hotel consists of 40 rooms and nine cottages; prices range from $269 to $549 per night. Open until Oct. 17.

The Ram's Head Inn

The Ram's Head Inn (108 Ram Island Dr.,
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

The Ram's Head Inn (108 Ram Island Dr., 631-749-0811, theramsheadinn.com)

Cut off as Shelter Island is from the rest of Long Island, Ram Island is even more remote. The lush outcropping is connected to the rest of Shelter Island by a narrow causeway. There, among the handful of luxurious dwellings, is the Ram's Head Inn, which overlooks Coecles Harbor and Gardiners Bay. The gracious 86-year-old inn has a classic Hamptons look -- cedar shake exterior, antique-accented decor.

Highlights of The Ram's Head: There may be
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

Highlights of The Ram's Head: There may be no more serene spot on the island than the lawn, strewn with Adirondack chairs, that gently slopes down to the inn's 800-foot private beach. Sailboats, paddle boards, kayaking are available for guests' use (or moor your own boat) as is a tennis court / basketball court. TVs in common rooms.

The restaurant, whose executive chef is Joe Smith, serves an updated continental menu with global accents (duck-confit spring rolls, grilled tournedos of beef with truffled cream corn). Lunch and dinner are served; breakfast is a continental buffet for hotel guests.

The Ram's Head has 17 rooms. Rooms on
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

The Ram's Head has 17 rooms. Rooms on the weekends with shared bathrooms are $195 per night; rooms with private bathrooms, $325 per night; two-bedroom suites, $425 per night. Prices lower on weeknights. Open April through October.

Sunset Beach Hotel

Sunset Beach Hotel (35 Shore Rd., 631-749-2001, sunsetbeachli.com)
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

Sunset Beach Hotel (35 Shore Rd., 631-749-2001, sunsetbeachli.com)

Seated in one of the rattan chairs at Sunset Beach's seaside restaurant, you may momentarily think you're in France. The menu, the decor and the vibe -- not to mention the accents of many of the employees and guests -- are strikingly Gallic. The hotel was opened in 1997 by hotelier-to-the-stars André Balazs (Hollywood's Chateau Marmont and Manhattan's The Mercer) and it brought a previously unknown European chic to staid Shelter Island. A restaurant, bar, rooftop lounge and a small boutique hug the shoreline; the rooms are housed in a separate building; each has a private deck with water views.

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Highlights of Sunset Beach Hotel: As befits the
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

Highlights of Sunset Beach Hotel: As befits the crowd, accommodations here feature luxe linens and flat-screen TVs with DVDs. Crescent Beach is right at your door, and there are complimentary bikes and paddleboards.

The restaurant specializes in the coastal cuisines of France and Italy (salade Nicoise, homemade pasta with ruby red shrimp and saffron-tomato butter). Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served.

Sunset Beach Hotel rates for the 20 rooms
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

Sunset Beach Hotel rates for the 20 rooms differ from month to month; in July they range from $435 to $475 per night and can rise to more than $650 in August and September. Open through Sept. 14.

The Dering Harbor Inn

The Dering Harbor Inn (13 Winthrop Rd., 631-749-0900,
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

The Dering Harbor Inn (13 Winthrop Rd., 631-749-0900, deringharborinn.net)

The Dering Harbor Inn isn't really an inn but a collection of 20 privately owned apartments perched on a bluff overlooking Dering Harbor. Four modest studios are located in a main building that also houses a yoga studio and fitness room. The other 16 accommodations are one- or two-bedroom suites most of which are either on the water or face it. Each property has been furnished by its owner; photos are available on the website.

Highlights of the Dering Harbor Inn on Shelter
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

Highlights of the Dering Harbor Inn on Shelter Island: A great place for kids, the complex has a large pool and plenty of green space for running around. Guests have free access to the yoga studio and gym; access to the tennis courts (or lessons) are extra.

There is no restaurant on the premises but, except for the studios, all rooms have kitchenettes. Guests can also grill on outdoor barbecues.

At the Dering Harbor Inn, the four studios
(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

At the Dering Harbor Inn, the four studios are $330 per night; one-bedroom suites are $385 to $420 per night; two-bedroom villas are $550 to $610 per night. Open through Oct. 12.

Shelter Island information

Shelter Island is only accessible by ferry. The
Buy photo
(Credit: Doug Kuntz)

Shelter Island is only accessible by ferry. The North Ferry (631-749-0139, northferry.com) sails to / from Greenport on the North Fork. Rates are $16 same-day round-trip, $11 one way. The South Ferry (631-749-1200, southferry.com) sails to / from North Haven on the South Fork. Rates are $17 same-day round-trip, $14 one way.

On the island, car service is available from Shelter Island Go-Fors (631-749-4252). Bikes can be rented from Piccozzi's, 177 N. Ferry Rd., 631-749-0045.

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