The Cape Cod Effect

Cape Cod Life  /  April/May 2022 /

Writer: Allyson Plessner

At Pretty Picky Properties, experience drives experience. They provide their guests with local knowledge, top-notch service, and exceptional rental homes with one goal in mind: creating a classic Cape Cod vacation. 

Photography provided by Pretty Picky Properties

When someone tells you that they spend their summers on the Cape, or even that they’re planning a short family trip, it elicits unmistakable thoughts of relaxation and seaside escape—as if that classic summer southwest breeze is intermingling with the words “Cape Cod vacation.” A trip to the Cape is all about creating magical experiences, and in turn, equally dreamlike memories. The weight that the Cape carries for its residents and visitors is distinct and inimitable: the Cape Cod Effect, one might say. But, how can you be sure you’ll achieve that enchanting time on Cape Cod that everyone seems to talk about? How can you grasp that almost intangible spirit of a Cape getaway­—the same one that has your friends’ eyes lighting up with recognition and longing when you announce your plans? The perfect rental home is an essential place to start.

The home you choose should function as your base of operations for your entire stay; the places you eat and shores you walk along will all likely be decided by this one place. “When we’re selecting a property to feature to our guests, it’s not a checklist of things that we look for. It’s about presenting a unique experience,” says Blake Decker, CEO of Pretty Picky Properties, a rental management company serving select properties across the Cape. “Creating that perfect Cape experience means something different for everyone—some people want traditional, some modern. First and foremost, though, we’re selective of our properties. That’s been the business model of Pretty Picky since my parents founded the company. We want guests to have a flawless vacation experience, and that starts with the right rental home.”

For visitors looking for stunning views and a clean, modern interior, this home on Barnstable Harbor stands out as one of Pretty Picky’s top rental homes. “In this line of work, I see so many incredible views, and this home has one of the most unique,” says Decker about the property. “We’re always looking for distinctive homes, places that really present our guests with an exceptional experience rather than just a place to stay, and this home is the epitome of uniqueness.”

With a private beach and harbor access just steps from the back door, the home overlooks the barrier beach of Sandy Neck as well as the Sandy Neck lighthouse. The historic Sandy Neck Colony sits at the end of the peninsula, leading to the lighthouse at the end of the colony. These cottages, most of which are over 100 years old and each with their own storied histories, dot the spit of sand, and also can be seen from the deck of this home, providing visitors with a remarkable picture of some of the region’s most historic cottages. And of course, the experience of a waterfront property—a Cape Cod waterfront property, no less—wouldn’t be complete without some spectacular sunsets (an important view for a home that sits on the aptly named Sunset Lane).

Inside, the home has been completely renovated, adding an element of modern convenience to a space that otherwise has the feel of a traditional Cape colonial. Sleek new flooring and furnishings pair with more traditional Cape elements like nautical accents and charming, whitewashed bunk beds. “The owner has made really intentional decisions with the interior. It’s beautiful and modern without feeling like a hardware ad. There’s still that distinctive Cape charm,” comments Decker, noting the local artwork that hangs on the walls. “I always say that the things that people touch—cabinet hardware, showerheads—are what set a home apart. We look for homes like this where you can tell that there’s been a lot of thought put into the quality and impact of the interior.” Pretty Picky also provides all of the properties they serve with a team of cleaners, maintenance staff, and what they refer to as “quality control detail” that make sure the house is secure and well-presented for the next guest. “The hospitality piece is really essential for us,” says Decker, “and if we do it right, then we create guests who are with us for life. We always want to do the right thing by them and by the homeowners that we’ve built such incredible relationships with.”

Five bathrooms and four bedrooms (including a whimsical room with a bunk bed perfect for those traveling with little ones) mean that this space can comfortably accommodate large families and groups; plus the roof deck is that much more fun with a big gaggle of loved ones. A large kitchen space is perfect for entertaining, and the open-concept dining and living area boasts spectacular views of Barnstable Harbor on multiple sides. At night, stargazing from a variety of perches is the ultimate wind-down; either the back lawn, which makes a seamless transition down just a few steps to the beach, or the second-floor roof deck. Translation: treasured vacation memories!

If guests find themselves able to pull away from the beach for a few hours, then a local coffee shop provides guests with some much-needed fuel, Mattakeese Wharf is the perfect local spot for dinner with a view, and Hyannis Main Street is just a short drive away. “There’s also a small fish market just down the street as well as opportunities for whale watching, charter fishing, and plenty of scenic pedestrian routes,” adds Decker. For Pretty Picky, having that kind of local knowledge sets the business apart. 

“Our mission is to provide the highest quality properties with the highest quality service,” explains Decker. “That mission leads us in a lot of directions, from partnering with local construction services to helping some of our customers find their ideal second home or even just the best spot to get their next meal. We’re creating this network of resources and building relationships not only with our customers but also with local businesses, so that we can share that knowledge with guests and make the Cape more accessible for everyone.”

As a small-town community, the Cape can feel daunting to someone visiting for the first time, particularly in the off-season. But it’s exactly that small-town community that makes the region so special. “I’m a washashore myself—a summer kid who decided to stay one day. What I love about the Cape is that it is small-town living eight months out of the year, and then in the summer, it’s like the capital of New England,” laughs Decker. “It’s such a unique seasonal experience, but the Cape is beautiful all year round, and we want to help make it approachable for our guests whatever time of year they choose to stay.” Pretty Picky achieves that not only through providing incomparable rental homes, but also sharing the knowledge and experience of a local with their customers, and it’s that attention to detail that encourages many of their customers (over 70%) to become repeat visitors to the region (and to Pretty Picky homes). “Plus, as more and more people have started to visit during the off-season these last few years, we’ve made sure to stock up on snow shovels and rock salt in addition to beach umbrellas and pool towels,” adds Decker with a laugh.

John Keats once said, “Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced—even a proverb is not a proverb until your life has illustrated it.” When it comes to understanding the Cape—the spirit of its residents and the unwavering loyalty of its guests, from the farthest shores of Provincetown to lines of visitors waiting to cross the bridge—there is no more informative way than through experience. To stick your toes in the sand of Sandy Neck Beach or watch the sun crest over a sparkling view of sand dunes is to truly understand the untamed essence of the region and to taste for just an instant what it is to be a local. The team at Pretty Picky understands that completely and has set out to ensure that their guests do too. They have made the “Cape Cod Effect” something attainable—more than just a dreamy glint in one’s eye or a knowing smile at the talk of a road trip down the Scenic Highway—with everything from their love of local restaurants to their unparalleled knowledge of one of the Cape’s greatest resources: hospitality. What better place to lay your head down, with dreams of Cape Cod waves rolling through your mind, than in the perfect Pretty Picky rental home? 

Allyson Plessner is a contributing writer for Cape Cod Life Publications.

Allyson Plessner

Allyson Plessner is a former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life and now works for the publication as a staff writer and digital media coordinator. Born in Florida, Allyson has been a lifelong summer resident of the Cape. She is a recent alumna of the College of Charleston, located in Charleston, South Carolina, where she completed bachelor’s degrees in both English and Spanish. In her free time, Allyson is an avid sailor, beach-goer, and—like her fellow Cape Cod Life colleagues—a dog-lover.