GB Weekends: Rehoboth Beach’s Bellmoor Inn

I looked at my wife, and she stared back knowingly, as our youngest son thundered away on the drum kit in his bedroom like a hyperactive gorilla on steroids and the family dog continued to vomit chunks of my brand new Nikes all over the living room carpet.

It was time for a serious getaway; one that involved deluxe accommodations in stress-free surroundings, tables for two, and copious amounts of good wine.  But the problem was that we had neither the time nor the excess income to go and hide out in a beach hut in Bora Bora for the next month, as compelling as the thought was.

No, we had but a long weekend to cram in as much downtime, relaxation, and romance as possible.

So my wife called The Bellmoor.

Rehoboth’s Bellmoor Inn is a perfect romantic hideout.

 

Rehoboth’s Bellmoor Inn is such a perfectly luxurious hideaway for two that I almost don’t want to tell you about it, lest the word gets out and they raise their rates. This locally-owned hotel conveys an elegant, classic feel that’s perfect for unwinding.

 

The building is rather unassuming from the outside, but from the moment you enter the Bellmoor’s lobby, you’re submerged in the rich scents of fresh flowers and wood oils, warmed by the crackling fireplace, and surrounded with exquisite furnishings and graceful artwork. It’s posh, but not the least bit pretentious, with a refined level of true hospitality. In fact, it feels a whole lot like visiting the home of an old friend for the weekend (albeit a very wealthy old friend). Even a clueless guy like me took note.

My wife and I opted for a Bellmoor Club suite on the adults-only 4th floor, and the spacious quarters were sublime: a king bed with a real mattress, comfy sitting area, gas fireplace, wet bar, refrigerator, and generous marble bath with a huge hydrotherapy tub and walk-in shower. And perhaps most importantly—it was wonderfully quiet. We were already a million miles away, with stress levels steadily receding.

Each suite on the Bellmoor’s 4th floor is uniquely designed and decorated with custom-crafted furnishings and is assigned an actual name rather than a number—a welcome break from the usual corporate hotel chain cloning. Down the hall, we found a leather-chaired sitting room with its own library, along with complimentary snacks, bottled waters, and soft drinks—an additional 4th floor exclusive. All very James Bond, especially since you need a specially-coded keycard to access this level in the elevator.

The Bellmoor Club Suites are all private, unique, and well-appointed.

 

Another standout of the inn is its full service day spa. I lost my wife through its doors on Saturday morning, and she floated out a few hours later, massaged, pedicured, and smiling like she was on something. Needless to say, she loved it.

 

The Bellmoor really is everything that a top-notch inn should be, and nothing it shouldn’t. The complimentary breakfast buffet each morning is excellent, with an omelet chef, pastries, fresh fruit, and great coffee that we enjoyed while relaxing in the enclosed, sun-brightened porch area that overlooks the ancient Bald Cyprus and 82-year old Crepe Myrtle out in the garden. There’s even a high tea that’s served every Saturday afternoon at three by the concierge. And speaking of which, the concierge was exemplary. He was a load of fun, and really knew the ins and outs of the best restaurants in the area, right down to their wine lists. Impressive.

Bellmoor Courtyard.

 

Another thing we appreciated is the inn’s location. Now, normally I’m strictly the waterfront type, but the Bellmoor is perfectly able to have you feeling completely removed and light years away from the bustle of a beach town (even in July), and yet you’re just one short block off of main drag Rehoboth Avenue and two blocks from the sand. You really can leave your car for the weekend in the inn’s underground garage and walk just about anywhere you want to go. Case in point, there are several outstanding restaurants that your shoes can take you to in no time at all. (more on that coming soon.)

 

Restaurants are one of Rehoboth’s strong points. There’s a good mix, and plenty of diverse choices. For relaxed and casual, we like the Tex Mex fare of Dos Locos (208 Rehoboth Ave), with their fantastic homemade guacamole, fresh tortillas, and dee-lish margaritas. Our other local favorite is Fins Fish House & Raw Bar (243 Rehoboth Ave), a cool, laid back seafood joint that specializes in fresh oysters from prime locations like Cape Cod, Prince Edward Island, Chincoteague, and Long Island Sound (the Blue Points alone are worth the trip). If you’re not sure which ones you like, order up the sampler and try them all. They’re marvelous. Fins also features an eclectic beer menu that’s more extensive than many wine lists.

But this weekend was designated as a romantic getaway, so something a bit more upscale was in order. The Cultured Pearl (301 Rehoboth Ave) is a superb Japanese restaurant and sushi bar that has a real flair for both traditional and fusion cuisine, as well as its very own river that runs through the dining room, and live cockatoos in the lobby. We’re big sushi fans, and the Cultured Pearl never disappoints. I’m getting hungry again just writing about it.

And based on the Bellmoor concierge’s recommendation, we chose Eden (23 Baltimore Ave) the following evening for its amazing steaks and loaded wine list with more than 100 different options, including a whopping 40 choices by the glass. The space is cozy and well-appointed, with curtained booths that create a warm, intimate feel. We’ll definitely be back.

After dinner, we arrived back at the inn, both of us quite full and a tad sleepy, and found the bed linens turned down with chocolate truffles resting on each pillow. A nice, yet unexpected touch.

The Bellmoor really is a first-rate getaway in any season, with the comfortable intimacy of a bed & breakfast combined with the luxury and superior service of a world-class hotel. Whenever you need a quick unplugging from the daily grind, you’ll find a sweet reprieve in one of their 78 rooms and suites (GB Tip: avoid the garden cottages). But don’t just take my word for it. The Bellmoor Inn comes highly rated by travel industry icons like Conde Nast Johansen’s, Select Registry, and Zagat, and they also say that a staggering 50% of their business is from repeat customers. Given the unlimited number of accommodation choices at the beach, this speaks volumes.

So, by the end of our getaway, we’d gone from haggard and frazzled to satisfied and smiling. I can’t say that The Bellmoor will allow one to reach supreme transcendental nirvana, but what we did achieve felt pretty good indeed.

The Bellmoor Inn

6 Christian St.

Rehoboth Beach. DE. 19971

Phone: (302)227-5800

TheBellmoor.com

 

Family Friendly?     Yes

Pool?     Outdoor (2), one is adults-only

Hot Tub?     Yes

Wireless Internet Access?     Yes-in room and complimentary

Business Services?     Yes

Conference Room?     Yes

Bar/Restaurant on-site?     No

Free Parking?     Yes

Fitness Room?     Yes


Getaway Bunny’s Guide To Mid-Shore Tiki Bars

Kent Island’s Dirty Dave’s is the perfect place to unplug for a few hours.

When the weather outside gets good, our thoughts here at Getaway Bunny Worldwide turn to the same thing every year: outdoor drinking. (Shameful, I know).

Here on Maryland’s Mid-Shore, we’ve got a number of options if we wanna be waterfront when we sit and sip. And I ain’t gonna lie to ya; we’ve tried them all. I mean, how else can we give you our professional opinions?

What we look for in a beach/dock/tiki bar is pretty simple:

  1. A sweet, waterfront location/exceptional  view
  2. A chillaxed, drama-free vibe(aka: low meathead quotient)
  3. An easygoing staff that’s almost as happy to be there as you are (uptight bartenders and roid- raging bouncers like some of those places downy ocean need not apply)
  4. Prices that don’t make you jump off the nearest pier when they bring you the check

NOTE: (we’ll rate each venue on these criteria, 1-5 golden carrots, based on our experiences.)

Personally, I think the gold standard of beach bars is found throughout Florida and the Caribbean (more on that in future posts). A truly proper beach bar happens for all the right reasons; and almost by accident. Try too hard to replicate the island way, and you end up with a tacky Holiday Inn lounge that’s sporting a bad mural painting of a palm tree sunset, and some cheesy guy in a Hawaiian shirt warbling Margaritaville off-key in the corner. No thanks.

So, here are our Mid-Shore favorites, our “it’ll do’s”, and the ones that we go out of our way to avoid like a Richard Simmons infomercial.

 

A.    GB TOP PICKS

 

Dirty Dave’s Tiki Bar

Kentmorr Marina, Stevensville  www.Kentmorr.com

Dirty Dave’s is a true hidden gem; a thatched shack that’s half-buried in the sand, smack dab on the Chesapeake Bay’s front row. You can get to DD’s by land, sea, and even by air, thanks to the landing strip that’s right there in the neighborhood (please don’t drink and fly; that’s just plain scary).

This place is a destination all its own. Show up there on a Summer Saturday and it’s almost sensory overload. Walk up from the parking lot and you’re met with mountains of steamed crabs on diners’ tables, a long line of bikini-laden boat parties along the south bulkhead, live music grooving on the massive deck, people coming and going from all directions, and the thatch-top tiki bar itself, surrounded by good-timers, with the blue-green bay waters of the bay providing the perfect backdrop.

Dirty Dave’s cocktails are pristine, the seafood at Kentmorr Restaurant (same property) is mostly local, and the sunsets are among the best you’ll find this side of Mallory Square. Like my friend Christine says, “this place feels like a vacation!” Nuff said.

OUR CHOICE FOR: Best place to insert toes in sand while cocktailing.

LOCATION: ◊◊◊◊◊          

VIBE:  ◊◊◊◊◊     

STAFF: ◊◊◊◊                         

VALUE: ◊◊◊◊

DOCKING? Yes                    

LIVE MUSIC? Regularly                 

KID FRIENDLY? Sure

 

 

The Sandbar

Rolph’s Wharf Marina, Chestertown www.RolphsWharf.com

The GB team and friends, beachfront at the Sandbar last Friday.

The Sandbar is exactly that—a covered bar fashioned out of an old fishing boat, sitting in the sand on a secluded bank of the historic Chester River. It’s a lot like one of those unique little hole-in-the-wall joints in Key West or lower Outer Banks that’s loaded with colorful local characters and ageless sea salt atmosphere.

Bartenders at the Sandbar are supremely talented, pouring drinks that pack the same punch as a Ray Lewis 3rd down stop. It’s beautiful to witness, and can make the most amazing things happen. Last time there, I ended up doing shots of Patron with a jazz singer from New Jersey and a DC lobbyist whose boat was bigger than our house. We also met a guy who may be the world’s foremost expert on unfastening bras without the bra-wearer knowing. True story.

Beyond that, there’s plenty of beach seating, and a river to wade into (complete with snakes), and some decent bar-food options including hot wings that are actually HOT.

Sandbar ain’t fancy, and definitely not high-fallutin, but it’s pretty close to perfect.

OUR CHOICE FOR: Best place to hide from the rest of Planet Earth.

LOCATION: ◊◊◊◊

VIBE:  ◊◊◊◊◊

STAFF: ◊◊◊◊                        

VALUE ◊◊◊◊◊

DOCKING? Yes                    

LIVE MUSIC? Sometimes             

KID FRIENDLY? Kinda/sorta

 

B.    DEEZE ONES ARE OK, TOO

 

Harbor Shack

Rock Hall www.HarborShack.net

Harbor Shack, during Rock Hall’s “Pirates & Wenches” Weekend. Pretty wild. 

The Shack has been a solid go-to for several years now; an open air bar/restaurant that always feels like THE place to be in Kent County. There’s a good-sized deck that overlooks Rock Hall Harbor, and a really cool indoor/outdoor bar that gets a steady offshore breeze.

It’s an unassuming place where it doesn’t matter what you drive, or how fat your wallet is. People are constantly buying drinks for other people at the bar, whether they know each other or not. And once the band gets going, you just might get to hear Sharon the singing bartender grab a microphone and belt out a little Janis Joplin.

The food is ok, but they could probably benefit with having less options on the menu. But for a great spot to sit under the stars, have a few drinks, and enjoy local music, Harbor Shack is perfect.

OUR CHOICE FOR: Cold beers, live music, and singing bartenders.

LOCATION: ◊◊◊◊

VIBE:  ◊◊◊◊

STAFF: ◊◊◊◊                         

VALUE: ◊◊◊◊

DOCKING? Yes                      

LIVE MUSIC? Regularly

KID FRIENDLY? Sure, but don’t stay late

     

Hemingway’s

Bay Bridge Marina Stevensville www.HemingwaysBayBridge.com

The new, fancy-schmancy Hemingway’s still has that monster location.

 Hemingway’s has been a Kent Island institution since the Kennedy Administration, featuring fresh seafood and an amazing view from the eastern foot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. But a few years ago, the longtime owners stepped away, and Corporate America swept in and flattened the tired old building, replacing the rustic charm with a cleaner, slicker layout and chain resort feel. Yes, it’s still cool, but we all agree that we liked the old decrepit one better.

Food is meh, and drinks can get expensive; about what you’d expect from a venue with an A-list location like this. But one thing’s for sure: the place still delivers.

OUR CHOICE FOR: Impressing clients, first dates, and out of town guests.

LOCATION: ◊◊◊◊◊          

VIBE:  ◊◊◊

STAFF: ◊◊◊◊                         

VALUE: ◊◊◊

DOCKING? Yes                    

LIVE MUSIC? Sometimes

KID FRIENDLY? Sure

 

SEMI-HONORABLE MENTIONS

Bridges

Kent Narrows, Grasonville www.BridgesRestaurant.com

PROS: Excellent waterside view of the Kent Narrows & Eastern Bay, and top notch signature cocktails.

CONS: On the short list of the worst service I’ve ever encountered (waited 20 minutes in a half empty lounge for someone to even acknowledge me), prices more expensive than a date with Lindsay Lohan.

GB SAYS: Sit at the indoor/outdoor bar, and tip the bartender as you go. Mojitos are good, but at $9 a pop, YOU’LL have to decide just HOW good.

 

The Jetty

Kent Narrows, Grasonville www.JettyDockBar.com

PROS: This oversized hut on a pier is a fine place to kick it with friends during the day, although they can get really crowded on warm weekend afternoons.

CONS: When the sun goes down, the drama goes up, complete with fights, bouncer rage, server apathy, and other nonsense. And the more crowded it is, the bigger your breasts need to be in order to get a drink at the bar.

GB SAYS: If you can find parking (big if), go on in and enjoy yourself. But if you’re not out by 10pm, you could be eaten by vampires. Just sayin.  

 

C.     WE’D RATHER STAY SOBER THAN RETURN

 

Waterman’s Crab House

Rock Hall 

Tourists have been mobbing Waterman’s for years now, eager to gobble down soggy, lukewarm crabs and fried shrimp. But the locals I know steer clear like it’s a Red Lobster with Bubonic Plague.

Maybe it’s just me, but Waterman’s has been about as exciting as a podiatry seminar when we’ve been there. Sure, it LOOKS right. There’s an outdoor bar there on the water, etc. But no enthusiasm. No fun. No laughter in the air. No electricity, even while the band was playing. (and a lotta bands we know refuse to play there for that reason). The most memorable part of being there last time was when their stumblin-drunk entertainment manager insisted (loudly) that he get up onstage to sing with the band, only to lay waste to Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” utterly and completely. Now, THAT was funny.

And again, maybe it’s me, but the bartenders approached their jobs with a mix of apathy and rudeness. The two girls working that night weren’t friendly, and acted like we were bothering them every time we asked for another beer–even though we tipped with each new order.

I can tell you that I’ve never gone to Waterman’s and NOT ended up at nearby Harbor Shack before the end of the night. Which is precisely where we’ll start out next time.

OUR CHOICE FOR: Pennsylvania tourists who don’t know any better.

LOCATION: ◊◊◊◊             

VIBE:                 

STAFF:                                    

VALUE:

FOOD ? Technically          

LIVE MUSIC? Yes

KID FRIENDLY? Yes

 

Big Owl Tiki Bar

Grasonville, MD  

This place makes me sad. See, the Owl used to be the site of one of our beloved Tiki Bar legends, The Shanty. The Shanty had the perfect Island Time vibe, and we mourn its loss to the extent that we still hold an annual party in its honor, every Friday of Memorial Day weekend. This year’s was at The Sandbar.

This place a pompous mess. New owner Al is a wedding DJ, and the venue FEELS like it’s owned by a wedding DJ, with a desperate “hey gang! Look how Jimmy Buffett we are!” poseur approach. Last time I was there, we had a crowd of about 25 with us, and in the midst of a warm, idyllic afternoon of cold beer and perfectly acceptable acoustic music on satellite radio, the owner hastily broke out his DJ gear and bombarded us with the likes of Madonna and Michael Jackson at ear-twisting volumes (surprised he didn’t play the Chicken Dance too). Adios conversation and relaxation.

We also hear that they’ve now cancelled Happy Hour on Fridays, charging full price instead. Beyond that, the service is slower than my kids taking out the trash. No mas. Never again.

OUR CHOICE FOR: People whose entire Buffett album collection consists of “Songs You Know By Heart” and still have the audacity to call themselves a Parrothead.

LOCATION: ◊◊◊◊◊          

VIBE:                 

STAFF: ◊◊                               

VALUE:

FOOD ? Be patient            

LIVE MUSIC? Yes                             

KID FRIENDLY? Technically, but why bother?

That oughta keep you busy for awhile. Of course, your results may vary. As always, these are merely our opinions; nothing more, nothing less. One of our favorite things on the planet are tiki bars, and we know what we like, and what sucks.

  Got a favorite waterfront watering hole that didn’t make our list? Let’s hear about it!