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Sylvia Beach Hotel

Dream Resort

Nye Beach, Newport

Want a fabulous resort destination at the beach? Just hop a train from Portland. It will take you to the Newport where you can stay at grand hotels with elegant dining and ballroom dancing, to small cabins illuminated with kerosene lanterns. If you didn't arrive by train, you can get there by car or land your plane on the beach in front of your hotel. There's a Natatorium recreation center with an indoor saltwater pool, dance floor, bowling alley, roller skating rink and the occasional boxing match. You'll find a theater and shops to browse with homemade candies, confections, and ice-cream, a photography studio for portraits on the boardwalk, a shooting gallery, souvenirs and horse races on the sand. Clambakes. Agate hunts. Picnics and hiking excursions to lighthouses. Beachside classes on geology, astronomy, bookkeeping, elocution, literature, art, bible study, biology, botany, horticulture. And if you're really in need of recuperation, there’s Dr. Minthorne's Sanitarium and Hot Sea Baths, with a glassed-in verandah sunroom overlooking the ocean.

Impossible? Not quite. Welcome to Nye Beach in Newport, circa 1920.

Nye Beach, the complete dream resort destination, is no more. Named after John Nye who discovered gold in the sand from his creek at the turn-of-the-century and started the area's rise to fame, it has long been a forgotten corner of Newport.

But it’s making a comeback.

Luckily, Nye Beach those several decades of abandonment and inattention mean many of the old buildings and cottages remain. Nye Beach renewal began in the late 1980s with the rescue of the old Gilmore Hotel, "the only known flop-house with an ocean view and a waiting list." Built as the New Cliff House in 1912 (it later became the Gilmore in 1920), condemned many times and deteriorating badly, Goody Cable and Sally Ford revived the derelict beauty, renovating it to become the Sylvia Beach Hotel in 1987. Not to be confused with a beach by another name, the hotel is named after the literary patron, bookseller and publisher, Sylvia Beach, whose Paris bookshop, Shakespeare & Co., was famous as a gathering place for the likes of Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce & F. Scott Fitzgerald in the 1920s and 30s. The Sylvia Beach Hotel is the flagship of the area, with other shops, restaurants and vacation rentals taking hold and flourishing.

The nice thing about Nye Beach's revival is the friendly small-town atmosphere. You can park your car and leave it since practically everything you need is within walking distance – the beach, shops, cafes. It feels like a cozy beachside community rather than a commercial tourist enterprise, which, ironically, is the opposite of what it once was.

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