A Homey Hamlet

The oceanside community of Seabrook welcomes families

By: By Marty Wentzel


Seabrook Cottage Rentals

Nightly rates, commissionable to travel agents, range from $99-$500 per night. The addition of oceanfront and ultra-high-end units in summer 2010 will expand that range up to $900 per night.


A Homey Hamlet // (c) 2009
Seabrook’s cottages emphasize community.
// © 2009 Seabrook
When I was a kid, my family used to spend summer vacations at an enclave of simple cabins by a lake. It was a safe and easygoing place where one day melted into the next, and my brothers and I made friends with other guests, rode bikes, went boating and swimming and had quality time with mom and dad.

Those memories washed over me on a recent family vacation to Seabrook, Wash., a new coastal community just south of Pacific Beach on the Washington Coast. The Seabrook concept emphasizes community and green space, embraced by forests and water. During our visit, families played horseshoes, threw Frisbees, gathered at the playground, waved to each other from their porches and roasted marshmallows in fire pits. We didn’t use our car the entire weekend, opting instead to walk or ride bikes, which are free for renters. The town center was a five-minute stroll from our cottage, as were forest trails leading down to one of the most magnificent beaches on the coast. The entire experience felt like a breath of fresh air and took me back to my carefree childhood vacations.

A 2½-hour drive from Seattle, Seabrook is a burgeoning hamlet of privately owned homes that can be rented by visitors. While it will eventually contain 458 units, it currently features 115 homes on 88 acres. Now in its fifth year, the community is a work in progress, but most of the rental homes sit out of the construction area in completed neighborhoods. Our particular vacation cottage was immaculate and completely furnished, from the bedding, linens and towels to dishes and cookware. All of the dwellings looked like they belong by the sea, with shingling and roof lines reminiscent of my childhood summers by the shore. Ours — called Sunrise — sat directly on a park with a community fireplace and bocce ball court. Our family of three needed just two bedrooms, but larger groups can choose from such spacious options as the six-bedroom Adeline, complete with its own carriage house. Clients also have the option of booking several dwellings next to each other.

Seabrook’s quaint town center is small and irresistible. A cafe is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and serves breakfast on weekends and holidays. Across the street is Lil’s Pantry, a surprisingly well-stocked gourmet grocer. According to Seabrook spokesman Chris Murphy, retail center expansion will occur as the demand grows.

“We will have a movie theater, a post office, a tavern, many art studios, a bike/surf shop, an ice-cream parlor and a pool, to name a few,” Murphy said.

Also in the planning stages is a 50-room boutique hotel and spa for adults only, complementing the family emphasis in the cottage rental program.

Changes and additions are slated for the rest of Seabrook as well. An amphitheater has already been created for outdoor shows and events, and new trails are being added about once a month, especially during the summer. For mountain bikers, Seabrook recently opened a nine-mile loop that uses primarily decommissioned forest service roads.

Murphy said that Seabrook’s clientele is comprised largely of Washingtonians, with fewer guests from Oregon and a handful from other states. During our weekend visit, we noticed quite a few young families, but Murphy said Seabrook draws large numbers of retirees during the midweek. It’s also well-suited to reunions, business conferences and retreats.

“Our typical renter is looking for an authentic coastal experience very much like Cannon Beach in Oregon,” said Murphy. “What sets us apart from destinations on the Oregon Coast is our proximity to Seattle, not to mention the Olympic National Park in our backyard.”

Seabrook founder Casey Roloff said that the cottage rental program has enjoyed a 60 percent increase in revenue during the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same time last year.

“What makes this impressive is that occupancy in most places on the Oregon and Washington coast is down 30 percent,” said Roloff. “Seabrook’s success can be attributed to the fact that we offer the best value in the Northwest for those seeking a great coastal experience. Our cottages are available to rent for equal if not less money than many motels and condos.”

Roloff added that 94 percent of Seabrook’s guests say they plan on returning and referring the destination to a friend. After a weekend at Seabrook creating new memories with my own family, I now understand why that number is so high.