Martha’s Vineyard. Even the name sounds posh to those of us who have only read about the destination in the tabloids. But, for President Obama and his family, Martha’s Vineyard is a favorite vacation escape. And for good reason, too. For years now, this charming Massachusetts island has provided quiet refuge for the world’s elite. Former president Bill Clinton liked to vacation here, and Jackie Kennedy Onassis owned a home on the island’s western tip. Princess Diana was once spotted on the island, and Reese Whitherspoon and Jake Gyllenhall have even been seen taking a stroll down a Martha’s Vineyard beach.
For President Obama, however, the term vacation was relative. Even though he left the White House, the President was receiving daily security briefings while sitting on the deck of his vacation home. The work of a president, it seems, is never finished, even when he or she has left D.C. for a brief country escape.
But, let’s face it, every President deserves a break; and, so far, President Obama has been quite conservative with his downtime. Since his election, the President has only spent 61 days on vacation. That’s 119 days less that President Bush took after the same 31 months in office, according to CBS News.
With a population of only 15,000, Martha’s Vineyard offers all the elegance of The Hamptons; only without the velvet ropes and flash photography that often accompany celebrities on their usual summer stints. But, for the almost 10 days the Obamas were in town before Hurricane Irene forced them to leave, some media feathers were ruffled. (Although the press never got quite as flustered as in 2007, when Britney Spears shaved her head).
Spending an estimate $50,000 a week to rent the Blue Herron Farm (from a reportedly Republican family, no less), President Obama was criticized for his vacation’s timing. And it’s true: Elections are coming up, the economy has gone a little crazy, and President Obama’s approval ratings are at an all-time low.
The real secret, however, is not what President Obama missed while on vacation, but what he and his family did with 10 days of R&R.
The Obamas stayed at the Blue Herron Farm, a rural residence complete with beachfront access, horse paddocks, helipad, a basketball court, a boathouse, and an apple orchard. They rented the house through Wallace & Co. Sotheby’s International Realty, a local Martha’s Vineyard company.
They brought the whole crew on vacation with them, nearly 150 people: From John O. Brennan, the President’s chief counterterrorism advisor, to an attendant who walked the Obama family’s dog Bo onto Air Force One. And while Bo is assumed to have stayed at the farm with the First Family, the rest of President Obama’s staff rested at local bed and breakfasts in Edgartown. The press, on the other hand, were put up at the seaside Mansion House Inn, with its own spa and health club.
While on vacation, the President and his family made sure to get out and see some of the island. On a visit to the Vineyard Golf Club, one of two golf clubs on Martha’s Vineyard, President Obama practiced his swing in the sunshine. The President was also spotted in front of Nancy’s Restaurant & Snack Bar, a local seafood restaurant that boasts “the freshest seafood on Martha’s Vineyard.”
The Obamas also spent some quality time outdoors on their vacation. President Obama, his wife the First Lady Michelle, and their two daughters set out on the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest bike trail where they spent the afternoon riding around the 5,100-acre preserve.
The President and his daughters were also seen buying books at a local bookstore, Bunch of Grapes. While President Obama may have the weight of the world on his shoulders, he’s also making room in his schedule for some light reading. This summer, according to Yahoo! news, the President is reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, To the End of the Land by David Grossman, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, The Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell, and Rodin’s Debutante by Ward Just.
Martha’s Vineyard 101: Booking Your Stay like the President
If you’d like to have your own Martha’s Vineyard vacation, ABC’s Alice Gomstyn suggests that a stay at the Athearn House would give you an experience similar to the First Family’s escape. Rented out by Caroline Taylor Properties, another local Martha’s Vineyard company, the Athearn House is, according to ABC, a bargain compared to the Obamas’ $50,000 stay.
A week at this eighteenth century property would only cost you $45,000, and that includes 300 feet of private beach access, a swimming pool, eight bedrooms (each with a private bathroom), a playhouse, and a carriage house, too.
If renting a whole beach house isn’t quite your style, Martha’s Vineyard has plenty of other great accommodation options. There’s Lambert’s Cove Inn & Restaurant, the Shiverick Inn, the Ashley Inn, and the Hob Knob for those looking for stylish, yet quiet, B&B comfort.
For families who want a more country experience, check out the Captain R. Flanders House, a local bed and breakfast that’s built on a farm. Complete with horses, cows, and fresh baked goods every morning, this 1700’s original island homestead is sure to make for a memorable vacation.
Photos courtesy of white house photographer Pete Souza and the Daily Mail.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.