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On a hill since 1927, The Pridwin is now even more elevated: Grand re-opening of Island legend

Since 1927, The Pridwin Hotel has stood above Peconic Bay with Crescent Beach at its feet. Generations of Shelter Islanders have enjoyed having a front row seat on the setting sun during a late afternoon barbecue on the lawn.

On Saturday, May 6, about 80 guests reveled in that glorious Island experience.

The party was celebrating the launch of The Pridwin’s 2023 season, a moment that marks the end of the years-long construction phases and the start of what Cape Resorts — aligned with the Petry family in ownership — hopes will be a rebirth and renewal for a resort hotel that has been operated by the Petry family since the 1960s.

With both of his parents gone now, Glenn Petry and his brother Gregg maintain the family interest in The Pridwin. Glenn was in a reminiscing mood at the barbecue.

He spoke of how the hotel became a family project when his mother’s parents offered to buy the hotel in 1961 along with his father Dick Petry and Paul Mobius, Dick’s best friend from college, as long as Dick and Paul were willing to do the work of renovating and running it.

The Pridwin from the 1960s, when the Petry family and Paul Mobius restored and renovated the hotel. (Credit: Shelter Island Historical Society)

And work they did, according to Glenn, who was a child at the time. He remembers spending most of his summers fishing, often alongside his 2nd-grade teacher who was a frequent-fisher on the dock at the Peconic Lodge, catching mackerel, weakfish and flounder.

In the winters Glenn watched them work, awed by the skill that his father and Paul Mobius showed designing and building important additions and improvements to the hotel.

“Everything he and Paul did was on a notepad. No architectural drawings. They just built this themselves. The dining room was 8,000 square feet with a massive run of beams. Another year they built the cottages,” Glenn said. “My dad was my hero.”

Cape Resorts, new owners and managers of the old hotel have not just renovated the rooms, they have restored and elevated everything from the decor to the food.

At Saturday’s barbecue, the standout dish was falling-apart-tender brisket with a Smoked Dr. Pepper Sauce, and the burgers were served on a sesame brioche bun. Corn on the cob was updated with lime butter and cotija cheese. Salads included a wedge of lettuce with blue cheese dressing, shaved Brussels sprouts with apple dressing, and a macaroni salad with ham and peas that was a crowd-pleaser Saturday, just as it was in the 1960s.

Nicholas DiMeglio, the assistant general manager, said they will bring back the barbecues on the lawn that were the high point of the summer for many generations of Islanders, with a similar menu.

Although the number of rooms remains about the same as when it was managed by the Petry family, the years of construction and restoration have resulted in a hotel that feels like an ideal version of its past glory.

Along with the general elevation of The Pridwin, the prices for accommodations have gone up, as at the Island’s other hotels, keeping pace with rising local property values. 

Like Shelter Island, The Pridwin stays true to its low key, casual style, but increasingly, nostalgia is coming at a heftier price.