Well Q&A: Wellness, Cape Cod Style

Last updated November 15, 2023

Because my childhood was spent in the south, my family vacationed in Mississippi so I never really understand the lure of Cape Cod until I finally visited for my first time a few years ago. 

Stepping into the Chatham Bars Inn in Chatham, Massachusetts, is what I imagine it feels like to be a weekend guest at a great mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. 

The décor is quintessential New England, cozy, charming with a nautical theme, but it’s the view that captivates! Set right on the Atlantic Ocean, Chatham Bars makes you feel well the minute you smell the salt air and gaze at the view.

The most memorable among many wonderful experiences I had there – including a visit to the spa- was at their farm in Brewster, just eight miles away. In September of 2018, I attended a Farmhouse Dinner with General Manager, Gary Thulander who is a “local boy.”

Being treated to a feast created by Chef Anthony Cole made from produce harvested that day while sitting at a long farm table between the rows of crops as the sunset was quite magical.  The meal was healthy AND delicious, a perfect combo!

Sallie:  Cape Cod is a unique place. What is it like to grow up there and now run one of its most iconic properties?

Gary: I have been coming to Chatham for over 50 years visiting my grandparents and enjoying the beaches like many other people who come to our destination to visit local beaches, restaurants and stroll along downtown Chatham, stopping at the Candy Manor, and the many other wonderful stores on Main Street.

Years later my wife and I were walking along the beach in front of Chatham Bars Inn. At the time, I had been in the industry for 15 years. I pointed to the hotel and said to my wife that “I would like to run this hotel one day.” I am grateful to be given the responsibility to run this amazing seaside resort that has such a great sense of place. Now I can welcome all my guests to share my Cape Cod experience.

Sallie: What do you think of as “quintessentially Cape Cod?

Gary:  Small town New England on the ocean with wonderful beaches, great family memories, fishing, chowder, cranberry bogs and the Cape Cod Baseball League.

Sallie:  What can the wellness traveler expect to experience at Chatham Bars Inn?

Gary:  A place of recovery and relaxation at our award-winning Spa, especially after a year of COVID, enjoying our culinary experiences using freshly picked produce from our 8-acre farm, bike riding, walking the beaches and trails and swimming.

Sallie:  Chatham Bars Inn owns a farm about 6 miles from the property. What do you grow there and how do you use the produce year-round?

Gary:  CBI has owned its own 8-acre farm for 6 years now with greenhouses, hoop-houses, farm-to-table events, and a Farm Stand. We grow a wide variety of vegetables including 15 different types of tomatoes, lettuces, Brussel sprouts, eggplant, herbs and edible flowers – all incorporated into our 4 restaurants by our culinary team. The produce and by-products are dried or pickled throughout the year.

Sallie:  Many think of Cape Cod only as a seasonal location. What are some of the special experiences that guests may not be aware of that you offer in the fall, winter, and spring?

Gary:  Culinary cooking classes, mixology classes using our own Maker’s Mark Bourbon Blend, Tequila tasting classes and margarita making using our own barrel of El Tesoro Tequila. We host wine dinners in our wine cellar, a 5-course pre-set menu in our Veuve Clicquot Library, Girl’s Wellness Series, Art Series, robust holiday events, and simply staying in one of our Spa Suites with soaking tubs and saunas.

Sallie:  What are some things that make that Chatham Bars Inn Spa special? Do you have a favorite treatment?

Gary:  The 90-minute Swedish Massage followed by a facial. We have our own line of products, indoor treatment rooms and outdoor cabanas, Zen Garden, pool, hot tub and a caring staff.

Sallie: How do you incorporate wellness into your own life?

Gary:  Yoga, paddle ball, golf, running, and healthy eating.

Meet Gary Thulander, Managing Director of Chatham Bars Inn in Cape Cod

Gary Thulander

Gary has decades of resort and New England luxury travel experience with a personal passion for Cape Cod, as he returns to the resort from which his management career accelerated.

In 2020, after only 2 years at the helm of Chatham Bars Inn, Gary was named the General Manager of the Year by the Massachusetts Lodging Association’s Stars of the Industry. This award is a celebrated and well-deserved recognition of Mr. Thulander’s leadership, business expertise and strong connections in the community and with locally-based conservation organizations that will further the Resort’s commitment to sustainability and the preservation of the historic shoreline.

Thulander most recently served as President and General Manager of the Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock, Vermont. He was awarded the Innkeeper of the Year Award for the State of Vermont in 2017. Prior to the Woodstock Inn, Thulander spent many years in the Caribbean.

He worked for five years as the General Manager at Landings and Anse Chastanet & Jade Mountain, both in St. Lucia and as General Manager of Cap Juluca in Anguilla, the third-best beach resort in the world, where he was awarded Hotelier of the Year. He also served as General Manager at the Equinox Resort and Spa, a RockResort in Manchester, Vermont, where he received the prestigious Chairman’s Award from Vail Resorts and spent time at The Boulders Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, a then-Five Diamond property.

Thulander launched his career and received his foundational training at another Five Star property: The Williamsburg Inn in Williamsburg, Virginia. Throughout his exceptional professional past, Thulander’s approach to operational excellence, personal engagement with guests, and sales performance have consistently driven high occupancy levels and record revenues for his properties.

Thulander is a New England native who graduated from the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School of Business with a degree in Hotel Administration. He and his wife, Mary, have two grown children: their daughter Shannon lives in Brewster, MA with husband Tyler Daley and daughters Harper and Stella; their son Michael and his wife, Alex live in Brewster and are expecting their first child.

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