Staycation 2017: Boardwalk Inn, Kemah Boardwalk

Cecilia Smith Austin | 12/30/2016, 12:37 p.m.
Once Halloween creeps around the corner life seems to kick into overdrive as fun and spooky costumes quickly give way ...

Once Halloween creeps around the corner life seems to kick into overdrive as fun and spooky costumes quickly give way to the wonderful smells of Thanksgiving dinner. As many dash to the delights of wrapping your loved ones’ gifts and placing twinkling lights on Christmas trees.

I’ve come to cherish December as a time to give thanks, as well as gifts to those not on the naughty list. Unfortunately, the magic of Christmas and its jolly fat Santa is largely gone by adulthood, and in its place you learn to take joy in more practical things, like the Texas sized crockpot my sister gave me. You see, I love to entertain my friends and family often so this practical gift really meant a lot to me. Actually, tears were almost shed! And while I know I will put my new crockpot to good use, had I still believed and written a letter to Santa I think – well actually I know, I would have definitely asked a for a staycation nearby so that I could enjoy an evening out and a much needed good night’s sleep.

For nearly two decades, Kemah has been one of the most premiere boardwalks in the country, offering big fun with a small-town vibe right at the water’s edge. At the heart of it all is the Boardwalk Inn, a recently renovated treasure for those looking for a view of the bustling waterfront boardwalk. Moving against the traffic that was headed into Houston for the holidays, I traveled the opposite direction and made my way to the hotel, anxious for a mini-vacation ahead of Christmas. I quickly learned that whether looking for a family friendly destination or a simple romantic getaway, Kemah definitely has something for everyone.

A California native, upon arriving, I was immediately reminded of home. The boats tied to the dock similar to the Berkeley marina I’ve walked many times. With a parking garage tucked into the side of the building, I was able to access the hotel with ease. Inside, the Boardwalk Inn boasts a string of new renovations. Spacious and warmly decorated, seashells and well-placed ornaments created a unique seaside experience; fitting for a December day that had reached a high of 80 degrees. Welcome to Texas.

Check-in was quick yet personable, as the courteous staff armed me with a map of the boardwalk and offered suggestions on which attractions I might enjoy for the evening. Filled with amenities, the hotel offers everything from priority seating at boardwalk restaurants, to cruise packages for those looking to enjoy the scenic view of the Gulf Coast. There’s something for everyone, including seasonal festivals, live entertainment and one-of-a-kind retail shops.

From there I headed to the fourth floor, a Presidential suite nestled at the end of the property. A fresh fruit bouquet and a tray of warm cookies and chocolate drizzled strawberries were waiting for my arrival, the personal touch adding to the experience. I was immediately blown away by the decor, modern yet laced with the feel of home.

With 52 unique guest rooms - 4 Master Suites, 11 Deluxe Double guest rooms and 37 Deluxe King guest rooms - each offers a different view of the boardwalk. In addition to plush pillows, posh toiletries and three separate balconies, the suite was easily larger than a number of one-story homes. As an added plus, the bedroom balcony provided a view of the restaurant that I would be dining at for the evening, The Flying Dutchman.

While taking in the sites en route to my dinner reservation, the enjoyment of “Jingle the Boardwalk” weekend at Kemah which included the sounds of Christmas music mixing with the joyous screams of children racing from ride to ride and families and couples gathered around the towering tree in the plaza, using the backdrop to create personalized pictures and memories brought warmth to my heart.

Quickly seated at a table overlooking the water, my waiter, James, delighted me with a brief history about the venue. A Kemah landmark, the restaurant has been a local favorite for years, earning the distinction of being the only location of its kind in the nation. While Landry’s Inc. now owns the Kemah Boardwalk, The Flying Dutchman has continued its own traditions by using original recipes, resulting in a delicious seafood option for those looking to dine on the waterfront.

Service is key and to me, it’s the deciding factor in whether a dining experience is great or merely average. In this case, it exceeded all of my expectations. A quick personal story - Four days prior my wisdom tooth was removed, making it difficult to eat certain foods. James was both patient and extremely courteous, going above and beyond to describe menu options and provide personalized touches throughout the meal, including a warm towel to wipe my hands during a snow crab binge. After all, a snow crab binge is a must after having a tooth removed. Right? And I can happily report that no teeth were injured during the process. Stuffed and relaxed, I sat enjoying the views from large bay windows as the fog rolled in from Galveston.

As the boardwalk began shutting down for the evening I took the opportunity to enjoy a lovely rooftop view from the pool before heading back to my room for the evening. Relaxed and at ease, that night I enjoyed some of the best sleep I’ve gotten in months.

So what are you waiting for? Check out these upcoming promos and book that much needed getaway!

January- MLK weekend

Sunday, January 14th- special- Rates starting at $ 89

February Valentines Weekend – February 10th & 11th

Friday- February 10th- Valentines Romance Package

· Champagne upon arrival

· Chocolates covered strawberries

· Sweet Heart rose w/ Turn Down Service

· Priority Seating at one of our restaurants on the Boardwalk

· Premium Plaza View Guest room

· Two All Day Ride Tickets

Rates starting at $ 389

Saturday- February 11th- Valentines Romance Package

· Champagne upon arrival

· Chocolates covered strawberries

· Sweet Heart rose w/ Turn Down Service

· Priority Seating at one of our restaurants on the Boardwalk

· Premium Plaza View Guest room

· Two All Day Ride Tickets

Rates starting at $ 429

· Additional Dozen red roses- $ 110-$ 149, must call in advance to order with their guest room reservation.

On a personal note:

Houston Style Magazine sends our regards to Tina Hare of the Boardwalk Inn, who graciously took the time to give a tour of the hotel that included a look at their impressive boardrooms and all-in-one rental options, making it an excellent choice for those looking to host or book events. I’d like to thank the staff for the incredible hospitality. I’m not only looking forward to returning, but I’m inviting others to do the same.

Thank you Santa for bringing a bit of that childhood magic back; it’s just what I asked for.

(Photos courtesy of Landry’s Inc and Flying Dutchman Facebook)