Spend a while on the Isles

Virtually all New England’s historic Victorian hotels, like the ones that once drew people to Mont Vernon and Lyndeborough, are no more.

But not far off the coast of Portsmouth, there is a sprawling 19th-century hotel still in operation.

From June through September, a one-hour ferry ride takes people to the Oceanic Hotel. Built in 1875, the Oceanic is said to have rivaled the grandest hotels of the era. It is the largest hotel on tiny Star Island, one of the nine Isles of Shoals, located 7 miles off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine.

Anyone can explore the island for a day, have a meal, spend the night or attend a conference. On Sunday, Aug. 28, there was a "Great Gatsby"-themed gathering, with men in straw hats and bow ties and women in flapper-inspired dresses playing cards on the hotel’s porch and lobby or playing croquet on the lawn that sweeps down to the harbor.

Summer conferences in 2016 included yoga, meditation, photography, painting, creative writing and bird watching, each lasting from two days to a week.

But you don’t have to be part of a group to stay there. Individuals, couples and families are welcome to book their own private retreats. Rates include three meals a day in a communal dining room.

These "personal retreats" were created in 2008 to allow members of the public to stay on the island for up to a week. The rooms are basic, almost Spartan, with shared bathrooms, but there are more private accommodations in an ancillary motel.

A gift shop, bookstore, restrooms and a snack bar serving ice cream and other treats are available to day-trippers.

In the 1600s, Star Island was the busiest fishing port on the East Coast. Now it has a marine laboratory, a floating dock for swimmers, tennis courts, playgrounds and the Kiddie Barn, giving child care services.

The island also has the largest off-grid solar farm in New England, providing all of the power necessary during the off-season and 60 percent during the full conference season.

In the interest of saving electricity, hotel guests are asked to not bring appliances such as hair dryers and to shower no more than every other day.

The nonprofit Star Island Corp., founded on the traditions of Unitarian Universalism and the United Church of Christ, is the island’s owner.

Ferry services to Star Island are located in Portsmouth, through the Isles of Shoals Steamship Co., and at Uncle Oscar’s in Rye. Reservations are suggested.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

Spend a while on the Isles

Virtually all New England’s historic Victorian hotels, like the ones that once drew people to Mont Vernon and Lyndeborough, are no more.

But not far off the coast of Portsmouth, there is a sprawling 19th-century hotel still in operation.

From June through September, a one-hour ferry ride takes people to the Oceanic Hotel. Built in 1875, the Oceanic is said to have rivaled the grandest hotels of the era. It is the largest hotel on tiny Star Island, one of the nine Isles of Shoals, located 7 miles off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine.

Anyone can explore the island for a day, have a meal, spend the night or attend a conference. On Sunday, Aug. 28, there was a "Great Gatsby"-themed gathering, with men in straw hats and bow ties and women in flapper-inspired dresses playing cards on the hotel’s porch and lobby or playing croquet on the lawn that sweeps down to the harbor.

Summer conferences in 2016 included yoga, meditation, photography, painting, creative writing and bird watching, each lasting from two days to a week.

But you don’t have to be part of a group to stay there. Individuals, couples and families are welcome to book their own private retreats. Rates include three meals a day in a communal dining room.

These "personal retreats" were created in 2008 to allow members of the public to stay on the island for up to a week. The rooms are basic, almost Spartan, with shared bathrooms, but there are more private accommodations in an ancillary motel.

A gift shop, bookstore, restrooms and a snack bar serving ice cream and other treats are available to day-trippers.

In the 1600s, Star Island was the busiest fishing port on the East Coast. Now it has a marine laboratory, a floating dock for swimmers, tennis courts, playgrounds and the Kiddie Barn, giving child care services.

The island also has the largest off-grid solar farm in New England, providing all of the power necessary during the off-season and 60 percent during the full conference season.

In the interest of saving electricity, hotel guests are asked to not bring appliances such as hair dryers and to shower no more than every other day.

The nonprofit Star Island Corp., founded on the traditions of Unitarian Universalism and the United Church of Christ, is the island’s owner.

Ferry services to Star Island are located in Portsmouth, through the Isles of Shoals Steamship Co., and at Uncle Oscar’s in Rye. Reservations are suggested.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

Spend a while on the Isles

Virtually all New England’s historic Victorian hotels, like the ones that once drew people to Mont Vernon and Lyndeborough, are no more.

But not far off the coast of Portsmouth, there is a sprawling 19th-century hotel still in operation.

From June through September, a one-hour ferry ride takes people to the Oceanic Hotel. Built in 1875, the Oceanic is said to have rivaled the grandest hotels of the era. It is the largest hotel on tiny Star Island, one of the nine Isles of Shoals, located 7 miles off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine.

Anyone can explore the island for a day, have a meal, spend the night or attend a conference. On Sunday, Aug. 28, there was a "Great Gatsby"-themed gathering, with men in straw hats and bow ties and women in flapper-inspired dresses playing cards on the hotel’s porch and lobby or playing croquet on the lawn that sweeps down to the harbor.

Summer conferences in 2016 included yoga, meditation, photography, painting, creative writing and bird watching, each lasting from two days to a week.

But you don’t have to be part of a group to stay there. Individuals, couples and families are welcome to book their own private retreats. Rates include three meals a day in a communal dining room.

These "personal retreats" were created in 2008 to allow members of the public to stay on the island for up to a week. The rooms are basic, almost Spartan, with shared bathrooms, but there are more private accommodations in an ancillary motel.

A gift shop, bookstore, restrooms and a snack bar serving ice cream and other treats are available to day-trippers.

In the 1600s, Star Island was the busiest fishing port on the East Coast. Now it has a marine laboratory, a floating dock for swimmers, tennis courts, playgrounds and the Kiddie Barn, giving child care services.

The island also has the largest off-grid solar farm in New England, providing all of the power necessary during the off-season and 60 percent during the full conference season.

In the interest of saving electricity, hotel guests are asked to not bring appliances such as hair dryers and to shower no more than every other day.

The nonprofit Star Island Corp., founded on the traditions of Unitarian Universalism and the United Church of Christ, is the island’s owner.

Ferry services to Star Island are located in Portsmouth, through the Isles of Shoals Steamship Co., and at Uncle Oscar’s in Rye. Reservations are suggested.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.