Brand-new, high-end hotels are a rarity on the Jersey Shore, but this summer yields a bumper crop. Each of the three hotels that debuted in recent weeks—the Asbury Ocean Club Hotel in Asbury Park, the Wave Resort in Long Branch, and Hotel LBI in Ship Bottom—offers its own spin on modern luxury.
Adding to the Shore’s allure this summer: an expansion of the Reeds at Shelter Haven in Stone Harbor (including a new spa); and a thorough renovation of the venerable Seaview golf resort in Galloway.
Here’s our first-hand look at the new—and the upgraded—properties:
1101 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park
Leave it to Asbury Park to come up with a unique take on the modern luxury hotel. The hotel occupies the fourth floor of a sleek, new, 17-story, glass-walled condo sandwiched between two decidedly downscale Asbury Park rock ‘n’ roll landmarks: the Stone Pony and the Wonder Bar. Incongruous? Certainly, but Asbury Ocean Club’s glitz is emblematic of the aspirations of an Asbury Park that now attracts big-time investments and affluent visitors.
At Asbury Ocean Club, those affluent visitors will find no stone unturned in the pursuit of their comfort. After registering in the small first-floor lobby, guests ride an elevator to the fourth floor, where they are greeted with complimentary champagne and a chilled face towel in the Gallery, the hotel’s multi-purpose hub. (The Gallery transforms into a bar at night; in the morning it hosts a complimentary breakfast buffet.)
Beyond the Gallery, the expansive pool terrace awaits, with its spectacular wide-angle view of the boardwalk and beach, just across Ocean Avenue. Each chaise lounge is equipped with a button to call for food, bar or pampering. “People will come by to clean your sunglasses,” declares my tour guide, Kevin O’Shea, chief creative officer of Salt Hotels, which operates the property. (Salt Hotels, under CEO David Bowd, also operates the nearby, rock ‘n’ roll-inspired Asbury Hotel, and its neighboring bowling alley/music venue, Asbury Lanes. Both hotels were designed by the noted hotel designer Anda Andrei and developed by iStar, the designated master developer for the Asbury Park waterfront.)
Across a moat from the Asbury Ocean Club pool deck seemingly floats the Drawing Room, an airy space for indoor relaxation, cocktails (accompanied by a string quartet) and informal meals. Asbury Ocean Club has no restaurants, per se, but food can be ordered virtually anywhere from the full menu. (Guests share the common areas with residents of the condos, which are listed starting at $900,000.)
The hotel has 54 guest rooms, including 10 suites and two ocean-view penthouses. All exterior rooms have private balconies; most have ocean views. Rooms are sparsely adorned and ceilings are unusually high, contributing to a light and airy feel. Bathrooms are enclosed in glass—meaning you can gaze across the room to the beach while showering. (Curtains provide privacy for the meek.)
High season rates: $395-$1,500.—KS
110 Ocean Avenue, Long Branch
Look south this summer from Pier Village, Long Branch’s modern seaside community and shopping/dining enclave, and you’ll catch an eyeful of what’s likely the Shore’s busiest construction zone. The most striking of the new buildings is the Wave, a six-story, 67-room hotel whose undulating shape indeed shimmers wavelike along an extension of the Pier Village boardwalk.
Opened in late May, the Wave blends coastal ambience with modern industrial design touches, like polished concrete floors and exposed ductwork throughout the lobby and restaurant area. Locally produced art adorns the lobby and first-floor hallways, adding warmth and personality.
Guest accommodations range from deluxe rooms to interconnecting family suites—all with balconies and ocean views. The design aesthetic is clean and simple, right down to the wood-like porcelain floors.
The second-floor pool deck offers an unbroken ocean view to the east. (Don’t look west; that’s all under construction.) The infinity pool presses right up to the adjacent swim-up bar area. Lounges from Restoration Hardware and pod-like day beds surround the pool. The second floor also features a children’s playroom; fitness center; and the Wave Resort Spa, with four treatment rooms, including a couple’s room.
Downstairs, facing the boardwalk, the Wave has rolled out three restaurants: BuzzBait, a grab-and-go coffee shop; Ebb’s Coastal Kitchen, a casual seafood spot; and 100 Ocean, a Mediterranean-style brasserie. Each has outdoor seating at the edge of the boardwalk. The Wave has two additional walk-up eateries: Orilla’s Tacos, serving Mexican street food, and Branch Burger, with new twists on the classic burger.
Riding at the top of the Wave, the High Crest event space has an extraordinary, 2,125-square-foot ocean-view terrace and a 5,000-square-foot indoor space with equally fabulous views. It’s a wow.
“We’ve tried to build the resort for everyone,” says Tiffaney Warman, director of sales and marketing. The hotel is part of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Lifestyle Collection rewards program.
High season rates start at $300.—KS
350 West 8th Street, Ship Bottom
You can’t miss Hotel LBI. The imposing new four-story resort looms large on Route 72 as you descend the causeway onto Long Beach Island. With its abundant gables, columns, porches and blue-and-white striped awnings, Hotel LBI is reminiscent of the sprawling Victorian-era resorts that long ago graced much of the Jersey Shore. But Hotel LBI is a thoroughly modern rendition of a luxury hotel, with plenty of amenities and a clean, coastal-inspired décor.
Start with the lobby. A large space with plenty of comfortable seating, it combines contemporary sheen with retro touches like blown-up reproductions of decades-old photos from the New Jersey Maritime Museum in Beach Haven. The focal point: A well-worn wooden fishing boat dramatically suspended from the ceiling. There’s a lobby bar (serving grab-and-go breakfast and, later in the day, drinks and small plates), and a shop for snacks and merchandise.
Proceed to the indoor-outdoor pool. With a glass ceiling that retracts to let in direct sunlight, it’s suitable for all kinds of weather. The pool area is on the small side and it picks up a fair amount of noise from cars passing close to the hotel, but it’s a relaxing space nonetheless—and features yet another bar serving drinks and small plates. Adjacent to the pool, there’s a small, glass-walled fitness center, and the Lighthouse Salon and Spa, featuring three treatment rooms, a couples’ suite and six hair stations.
The hotel offers 102 notably large suites in 17 configurations, many geared for families. Each suite has a kitchenette, balcony and sleeper sofa; six have built-in bunk beds and can accommodate up to seven or eight guests. “The idea is to have something for everyone,” says hotel sales coordinator Alexis North, my tour guide.
For an ocean view—and fabulous sunsets—guests ascend to the rooftop bar, where adults can gather around three fire pits while the kiddies play on life-size game boards. For breakfast and dinner, they head to the Salt Kitchen & Bar, another huge, attractive space, with ample veranda seating.
The hotel is located at the site of the old Quarterdeck Inn, about four blocks from the beach. Luxury vans shuttle guests to and from the beach; valets provide towels, beach chairs and beach tags (two per guestroom). The hotel also provides complimentary beach bike rentals.
All of this family-friendly luxury is the vision of owner Chris Vernon, who also owns the nearby Mallard Island Yacht Club and Bonnet Island Estate, a pair of popular Manahawkin wedding venues. Hotel LBI itself has a large Conservatory room, which can accommodate up to 200 guests for sit-down events.
High season rates: $359-$1,389 (for the penthouse suite).—KS
401 South New York Road, Galloway
New Jersey is golf crazy, so it seems crazy that the Garden State has but a handful of stay-and-play golf resorts. Seaview, with 36 holes of golf on two challenging courses, can justifiably claim to be the state’s most storied golf getaway. Its fairways have hosted names like Snead and Hogan—and presidents from Harding to Eisenhower. To this day, it hosts the ShopRite LPGA Classic each spring.
Seaview’s Bay Course and Pines Course have maintained their standing among New Jersey’s best daily-fee courses, but the hotel itself has long been in need of an update. This summer, the 298-room resort, now owned by KDG Capital and managed by Dolce Hotels and Resorts by Wyndham, unveils an $18 million renovation intended to restore it to the ranks of New Jersey’s top destinations.
There’s no question Seaview has good bones—and a great location, 15 minutes inland of Atlantic City on Reed’s Bay. Built in 1914 as a luxury retreat for the wealthy of Philadelphia, Seaview maintains an air of casual sophistication. It’s fitting for the site where Grace Kelly—later Princess Grace of Monaco—celebrated her 16th birthday (in 1946 in the Oval Room, still a favorite space for small gatherings). Other celebrities on the hotel’s wall of fame include Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, rock star Alice Cooper (who golfed here), Madonna (who likely did not) and the Rolling Stones (who stayed for nine days during their Steel Wheels tour).
The renovation brings out the best of Seaview. The expansive, sun-filled main lobby and lobby bar have been freshened up with a warm, muted color scheme and comfortable modern furnishings. While the look is new, the hotel preserved much of the original woodwork and plaster detailing. The guest rooms also have a clean new coastal-chic look with a subtle gray-blue-beige color palette.
In the guest rooms and throughout the common areas, vintage resort photos, postcards, menus, golf scorecards and course blueprints from the hotel’s collection provide a nostalgic counterpoint to the modern touches. Service is another throwback: The staff is exceptionally attentive; many employees in all facets of the hotel have served Seaview guests for multiple decades; some are second-generation Seaview employees.
The Seaview has two attractive dining areas. The main dining room—an elegant rotunda with a panoramic view of the Bay Course—is used for the daily breakfast buffet, Sunday brunch, a weekly seafood buffet (Thursdays in season) and special events. The clubby, brick-walled Grill Room is used daily for lunch and dinner—and chilling out at the bar after golf.
The grounds are gorgeous and amenities ample. Seaview has a family-friendly outdoor pool and an indoor pool; a 24-hour fitness center; tennis courts; a walking trail; and a sumptuous Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa for pampering. It also has ample meeting and event spaces.
High season rates start at $129 midweek and $229 weekends.—KS
9601 Third Avenue, Stone Harbor
Small-town charm and proximity to the beach make Stone Harbor a quintessential Shore spot. The vibe is laidback and upscale, making the Reeds at Shelter Haven a perfect fit. After six years as a go-to place in Stone Harbor with its popular bar scene, indoor and outdoor eateries and special event spaces, the property has added 21 more rooms this summer, plus new a top-shelf spa.
The Reeds’ new beachy-chic accommodations seamlessly mirror the original 35 guestrooms, and are housed directly across the street along with the spacious, bi-level spa. Rooms feature warm wood floors, neutral colors and handy amenities, including mini Keurigs and refrigerators. Some rooms offer a peek at the ocean a few blocks away.
The addition of the Salt Spa significantly raises the bar for the already sought-after hotel (Conde Nast Traveler has given it the nod twice already!) Prepare to be pampered when you show up for your treatment at this wellness haven. Choose from a diverse menu of indulgences, such as the Hydrafacial, the latest in skin smoothing technology, to the classic massage. Each is executed in one of the five serene, dimly lit, private sanctuaries appointed in silvery gray hues with subtle glimmers to reinforce the salt theme.
The steam room is open to all spa guests; receive two or more treatments and you can take advantage of the Brine Light Inhalation Lounge—a place to totally decompress. Climb into a plush lounger and take a breath. Mounted on the brine wall is a trickling waterfall that emits a salty mist, while calming colored lights bath the room in a soothing, slow-moving light display. The chromotherapy is designed to encourage greater relaxation, while the salt-enhanced air is said to improve skin and lung conditions and even prevent colds and allergies.
Equally impressive is the Turkish bath, modeled after a traditional hammam, where things get therapeutically steamy. This tiled oasis features a heated marble massage table and heated benches. Treatments include the Himalayan salt scrub, Rasul mud ritual and balancing body scrub and mask. The hot, steamy air opens your pores, and prepares your skin to receive the full benefit of the cleansing treatments.
The piece de resistance of the spa’s avant-garde treatments is the novel Soft-Pack Float, a more sophisticated cousin of zero-gravity offerings like upside down loungers and float therapies. A major selling point: it doesn’t require getting wet. The session consists of crawling onto a bed-like pad that is suspended within the bed-like frame. The pad fills with warm water and creates the sensation of weightlessness. Your body is cradled in the air and on water—and you remain dry! Hello, uber relaxation. Aside from the ultimate unwind, the Soft-Pack Float is intended to relieve joint, muscle and back pain.
High season rates start at $550.—DCClick here to leave a comment