Located on the sandy beaches of Long Island Sound in Madison, Connecticut, the Madison Beach Hotel is a year-round getaway conveniently located about two hours from major cities of New York City and Boston.
Unlike better-known East Coast summer meccas — like the Long Island Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard just south of Cape Cod — both the hotel and the quaint town of Madison are much more laid-back, low-key, and largely free from hordes of tourists and day-trippers.
Guests of the Madison Beach Hotel enjoy exclusive access to a private beach in a residential-mostly residential area. Each of the guest rooms, most with large balconies, offers unobstructed views of the Sound, a tidal estuary of the Atlantic Ocean.
At night, when guests leave the floor-to-ceiling French doors to their rooms open, they are lulled to sleep by the sea breeze and the sound of the waves lapping the shore. The morning sunrise views are spectacular.
A unique property
With just 33 rooms in total, this four-story boutique resort is considered the smallest Hilton hotel in the world. Although the property is part of the prestigious Curio Collection by Hilton (and associated Hilton guest loyalty program), it is independently owned and managed by Henry (Ric) and Dawn Duques.
Also special: The Madison Beach Hotel is that only Hotel in a quaint residential town with precious little accommodation for overnight visitors other than a handful of BnBs.
The historical roots of this beachfront property run deep. First a boarding house (originally called Blumenhaus) for shipbuilders who passed through the city in the 19th century. Later converted into a hotel, it has been attracting visitors to the same place for about two hundred years. As rail transportation replaced wooden sailing ships for hauling cargo along the coast, city dwellers took to the rails to spend their summers in coastal cities like Madison.
Loyal patrons of Madison Beach
From the age of 9, Ric Duques (now a philanthropist and retired Chairman and CEO of First Data Corp) spent his summers at his family’s beach house in Madison and played on the rocks near the hotel. His grandfather was the city’s first postmaster and Duques fondly remembers the times he spent on the beach.
Over the years, the original ramshackle wooden hotel on a spectacular piece of land has fallen into disrepair, becoming structurally unreliable and an eyesore on the picturesque coastline.
Combining a love of the city, business acumen and an “I can fix anything” attitude, he and his wife Dawn decided to purchase the property in 2006 and embark on an ambitious project to restore the run-down Madison Beach Hotel take. They hoped to retain the property’s graceful New England feel while modernizing the rooms and services.
However, the couple found that the old building was in such poor condition that it could no longer be saved. Undaunted, they literally had to start from scratch, starting with a new foundation, to meet today’s coastal construction demands. An expected two-year project took more than three years to complete.
A traditional hotel reinterpreted for the times
The redesigned Madison Beach Hotel, which opened in June 2012, occupies the same footprint as the original. While the number of rooms remains the same, interior hallways with a nautical theme have replaced the outdoor walkways. Yet the gray-and-white clapboard facade still evokes memories of a 19th-century New England guesthouse or inn.
The on-site Wharf Restaurant is open for lunch, dinner, and continental breakfast, and offers indoor dining as well as alfresco dining on its old-fashioned wraparound porch. The menus of the new chef at the helm, Executive Chef Brian Warmingham, emphasize fresh, local and seasonal ingredients – with an emphasis on fresh seafood, of course.
Guests can revitalize their mind and body at the hotel’s fitness center and full-service Sounds of the Sea Spa. If they can tear themselves away from the property they can visit the museums and listed historical sites in town or walk or bike to the vibrant town center (less than a mile away) which is full of cafes, restaurants, an independent cinema , gift shops and clothing boutiques.
Depending on the season, the hotel offers a robust calendar of holiday themes and gourmet food/wine experiences, as well as outdoor concerts on the lawn, weather permitting.
During the peak of the pandemic, the Madison Beach Hotel was forced to close for nearly six months, and occupancy rates at the Madison Beach Hotel appear to have returned to pre-pandemic levels, with people seeking a getaway closer to home. Many guests return year after year to relax and recharge in an idyllic setting that is close to home but slightly off the beaten path. And given its small size, service is reliably warm and personal.
Information on room rates at the Madison Beach Hotel
Information about Madison, CT from the Madison Chamber of Commerce
Information on how to get to Madison, CT