A friend once told me that when he chooses a resort for an incentive, first impressions are everything. I couldn't help but think of that on my recent visit to Cape Cod's Ocean Edge Resort. With my first glance of the Victorian-style stone mansion and carriage house, set back on a sweeping Great Lawn with ocean glinting in the distance, I knew I had arrived somewhere just a touch above.

Here, the meeting rooms are a bit more elegant, with working fireplaces and richly carved woodwork, (there were 150 different woods used in the mansion, which was owned by the wealthy Samuel Nickerson family); the dining a bit more special (the Ocean Grille, which seats 96, features many local ingredients and seafood); and the 18-hole championship golf course more distinctive (it's a recent winner of Corporate Meetings & Incentives' own Golden Links Award).

Ocean Edge is well-equipped for meetings, with features such as two business centers and a dedicated on-call conference concierge for each group. Complete meeting packages are available. Recent corporate clients have ranged from Robert Mondavi Wines to Gillette to Arthur D. Little.

The main meeting space is in the mansion and carriage house--15 rooms with 15,000 square feet of space, to accommodate groups of up to 200. New for '98 is the 5,000-square-foot Bay Pines Pavilion, a permanent tent with heat and air-conditioning that can seat 400 for a banquet.

Guests stay either in the 90 rooms adjacent to the main building or in a variety of comfortable one- to three-bedroom villas. For recreation, there are six swimming pools, 11 tennis courts, and two fitness centers. But the main attraction is unquestionably the resort's private beach and the Cape's classic sunsets. This is a place where you'll want to be outdoors, in any season.

Speaking of seasons, the peak season at this resort has lengthened from late April to early November, and Ocean Edge stays open year-round (other than the villas, which close for a couple of months in the winter).