Offseason is an excellent time to hit the beach (area).
Just got back from our annual Thanksgiving weekend pilgrimage (ha!) downy oweshun, hon. We’ve been visiting the beach on TG weekend since the kids were small, and during that span the Ocean City/Rehoboth Beach corridor on Thanksgiving weekend has gone from semi-ghost town to mega-packed. The bloody battlefields of the tax-free outlets make Braveheart look like a Disney film.
Here’s some of the new discoveries we’ve….uh…discovered, good and bad.
This time out, we decided to try the brand new Hyatt Place in the middle of Dewey Beach, DE (1301 Coastal Highway, Dewey Beach, Delaware Tel: 302 864 9100 $130 nt + tax). This three story ultra-modern monster is art museum slick, and sits in stark contrast to the old school, salt worn down-hominess of Dewey.
Hyatt Place is thoroughly 3rd millennium both inside and out, with a glass & chrome design that feels more Frankfurt, Germany than mid-Atlantic beach town. Our room was large and well-appointed, with HD TV, mini fridge, sitting area, and a unique frosted glass slider leading to a bathroom that was snazzy enough to star in a Daft Punk video.
That’s about it for the good news.
The hotel sits on the bay side of Route 1, but has seriously limited views of anything bay-related. Plus, it’s pretty clear that they cut design costs when it came to noise suppression. The place is LOUD. We were awakened at 7am this morning by random continuous banging from an undisclosed location (we were on the top floor, so it wasn’t above us, either), and the people across the hall seemed intent to see just how loud they could slam their room door–repeatedly–all morning long. So much for sleeping in and taking advantage of the 12 noon checkout time. In all, it felt very Days Inn, and not at all what we’ve come to expect from a luxury brand like Hyatt.
Other weirdness? There’s no non-emergency staircases, so apparently the Hyatt wants us all to be fat and slovenly. The place only has three floors; we’d prefer to walk up. Instead, two small elevators are the only way to get vertical, and when we headed down for breakfast this morning, we found a good 30 people clamoring in the lobby to go back up. Total cattle drive; not well-conceived, and totally unnecessary.
In all, Dewey’s Hyatt Place was mostly a swing and a miss. Decent rate for a holiday weekend, but the property felt like a cheaply-made, entry level subcompact by a luxury automaker that was long on pomp and short on execution. Our advice: spend the extra coin and book at Rehoboth Beach’s Bellmoor Inn instead. Infinitely more quiet and intimate, service that’s far more personal and less Best Buy, and a complimentary breakfast that’s miles ahead in both quality and delivery.
Back in September, we had a last minute chance to spend a warm weekend in Ocean City, and we did. As it was still summertime, all of our favorite places to stay were already booked solid, but we found vacancy at Bonita Beach (8100 Coastal Hwy, Ocean City), a small sand-colored hotel in north midtown on Coastal Highway. The mere fact that this property still had rooms available was a red flag on its own, but a bad day at the beach still beats a good day at home so posterity dictated that we go for it.
We never did find out what year the place was built, but it was probably quite the showplace back in the early 90s. Bonita Beach sports a true Melrose Place-era decor, but these days it’s aging and sagging, looks like its best days are behind it, and smells like stale menthol cigarettes–a lot like Keith Richards.
Mrs Bunny and I managed an ocean view room with two queen beds and a small balcony for us and the two youngins. The ceilings were stained, half of the Liza Minelli bubble light bulbs in the bathroom were burnt out, and the tub’s poor drainage led to back-flow gray water enveloping our feet when we showered. But the best moment was when we were walking through the main floor parking garage under the building, and a big, nasty dollop of air conditioner condensation slopped from the ceiling above us and right into my son’s latte (bloop!). Legionnaire’s Disease, anyone?
Here’s some other standouts down at the beach that we’ve never touched upon but are worth checking out.
Mother’s Cantina (2812 Coastal Hwy, Ocean City 410-289-1330 ) is small and less than gorgeous, and resides in a small and less than gorgeous strip center on the main drag, but serves up excellent margaritas and Tex Mex home cooking that gives uptown rival Tequila Mockingbird a real good run. If you like things truly spicy, the Red Hot Burrito is mouth-watering (and mouth-melting too). Their En Fuego sauce packs serious friggin heat–you’ve been warned. If you visit Mother’s on a weekend, be prepared to wait. But that’s cool; the bar is long and the drinks are good.
Finbar’s Pub & Grill (316 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach 302-227-1873) is a fairly authentic Irish watering hole (for a beach resort) that does a solid job across the board. When we found our that their trendy next door neighbor Dogfish Head Brewery had a 35 minute wait last night, we gave Finbar’s a shot and we’re glad we did. Their Whiskey Wings were a potent combination of spicy and sweet, with a fantastic house made sauce featuring fresh ginger, chilis, and Jamison Irish Whiskey. They were so good, we ordered a second round. Likewise, the Maryland Crab Chowder had a thick, chunky tomato base, and was well-stocked with crabmeat.
If you’re jonesing for Dogfish Head brews, don’t stress. Finbar’s has them, draft and bottled. And guess what: they’re less expensive than they are next door.
The entire Getaway Bunny team wishes you and yours a very happy and festive holiday season!