Gwenn and Mark Snider, owners of The Nantucket Hotel, have a long-standing relationship with the Island. Mark first arrived on Nantucket in 1965, and it was love at first sight. Both Mark and Gwenn knew early on that they had a passion for the hospitality business and opened Martha’s Vineyard Winnetu Oceanside Resort in 1999. When the opportunity arose to return to Nantucket, they knew they wanted to create a year-round hotel that catered to the island community. To say they have exceeded that expectation is an understatement. The hotel not only attracts visitors in season but offers a retreat with state of the art gym, kid’s club, and restaurant all year long for both the local community and those venturing to the Island in the off-season. Mark and Gwenn have set a standard within the community that is both admirable and highlights their commitment to Nantucket. They continue to grow with their newest venture, Lovango Resort and Beach Club, on St. John USVI.
When did you first the Island? What drew you to Nantucket?
Mark first visited Nantucket in the summer of 1965. His parents rented a home on Easton Street and the next year in Monomoy. It was love at first sight!
Gwenn- Mark and I lived on cape cod in the 1980s, And my first visit was in the winters when we would take a “vacation” every so often to Nantucket. It was a great adventure.
How did you go from starting the Cape Cod and Hyannis Railroad to getting involved in the hotel business?
In 1981 Mark started the Cape Cod and Hyannis Railroad. It operated between Hyannis and the Boston area and also down to Falmouth through 1989. Gwenn joined the team in 1985 as head of marketing. After the railroad was sold, Mark and Gwenn were interested in hospitality and built the Winnetu Oceanside Resort at South Beach on the Vineyard in 1999; the Nantucket Hotel in 2012, and now the Lovango Resort and Beach Club in St John USVI in 2020.
What is your favorite part of being part of the Nantucket community?
Nantucket has a fascinating year-round and seasonal community. We have made so many wonderful friends here from so many walks of life. What unifies everyone is their love for Nantucket. And everyone has a strong opinion- making for rich, varied, and dynamic conversations! We also are happy to bring so many visitors to the hotel who are passionate about Nantucket. Whether they visit in the summer, winter, spring, or fall, they come with a smile on their faces and a spirit of adventure.
How has the hotel evolved over the past eight years?
Our commitment from the start has been to create a year-round hotel that is an essential fabric to the island community. We are the only full-service hotel open on the Island year-round. It is gratifying to see how supportive the community has been. When the power goes out during a winter storm, we are here, with our generator to keep everyone warm; our restaurant Breeze has grown to be an exciting destination not only for dining but for all major holiday events- Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, the holidays and New Years! Our Nantucket Club is busy all winter with locals enjoying the opportunity to work out, socialize and then to enjoy a drink or dinner afterward in Breeze. The Club has grown extensively with summer membership opportunities from weekly to seasonal use, including our swimming pools, children’s program, and gym. The hotel is an exciting place to be all year long, regardless of the weather or the season.
Tell us about your new venture in St. John? What are your plans for the resort?
This is a very exciting new venture for us! Some time ago, we determined that in order to sustain our Vineyard and Nantucket properties, we needed to find meaningful ways to provide year-round employment opportunities. Having a sister resort in the south allows us to provide year-round employment in two opposite season locations. We have always enjoyed vacationing on St John USVI. We fell in love with Lovango Cay, a private island just located off Caneel Bay, St John. Phase I, the opening of Zozo’s H2O restaurant, just opened on February 6, 2020. We will be phasing in a club for boater’s and visitor’s to enjoy; a full resort consisting of discreet cottages; and 14 ocean view home lots for sale for private ownership with resort amenities and services. We are off the grid, and all power is supplied by our own solar and wind. This is exciting for us as we see this as the wave of the future. Our website is Lovangovi.com for those interested in learning more.
In your opinion, how are Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket similar? How are they different?
We are asked this question all the time! We like to say that similar to every family that has children with different personalities, and each can be loved and appreciated. The same can be said for both Nantucket and the Vineyard. The islands share so much shared history together and share similar challenges- transportation issues, environmental issues, year-round employment opportunities for the next generation, and expensive housing to sustain its workforce. But there are differences- Nantucket comes from a Quaker, subdued architectural tradition, the Vineyard a little more “out there,” especially in Oak Bluffs with its famous multi-colored gingerbread cottages; the Vineyard has six towns; Nantucket has one. Topographically the Vineyard is much larger and varied than Nantucket. Each Island is equally beautiful!
What is a little known fact that you want to share with us?
Mark’s happiest Nantucket moment: walking down to Brant Point, sitting on the beach, and watching the 5:00 pm boat arrive from Hyannis.
Gwenn’s happiest Nantucket moment: Leaving Mark behind and going to Sanford Farm to walk our dog, Ella!
But we probably spend more time together than many couples since we have worked together for 35 years!