A GEM ON THE SOUTH JERSEY SHORE IS ABOUT TO SPARKLE EVEN BRIGHTER…ALL YEAR LONG
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI • PHOTOS BY PEACH & PORT PHOTOGRAPHY AND KLINE DRONE SHOTS
Fortunate are those who venture past Atlantic City to discover the joys of the Garden State’s southernmost shores, from the boardwalks in Ocean City and Wildwood to the history and Victorian charm of Cape May to, in between, the coastal nature that still thrives and thrills.
In 2016, INDUSTRY turned its spotlight on Stone Harbor via our regular “Best of Downtowns” feature, and feedback was resoundingly positive. With its impressive shopping district, galleries, and restaurants, and its prime scenic location on Seven Mile Island with the Great Channel on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Stone Harbor offers prime pastimes and pleasures.
The undisputed jewel of the borough, residents and vacationers agree, is The Reeds at Shelter Haven, a 37 room luxury hotel, dining, and event destination situated on an idyllic bay that places nightly sunsets in direct view. Last year, The Reeds was recognized as a Condé Nast Traveler Top Hotel, with a score of 93.46 in its annual Readers’ Choice Awards poll. It was one of the only six New Jersey properties recognized.
Soon there will be more to love. An expansion directly across the street will add 22 rooms as well as the $6 million Salt Spa, which is expected to become a main attraction at the year round resort. The corner site had been occupied by various restaurants, most notably Henny’s, which operated for 70 years before closing almost a decade ago. The Reeds’ owners an oncologist and an industry titan are longtime Stone Harbor devotees who purchased the Henny’s property in 2009.
Edward Breen, who was raised near Philadelphia and currently lives in New Hope, Pennsylvania, has been visiting Stone Harbor with his wife (and eventually three children and three grandchildren) for 40 years. The family purchased a vacation home here 21 years ago. Breen has been a CEO of several Fortune 500 companies, beginning with General Instrument, which was sold to Motorola in 2000. In 2002, he took the helm at Tyco International, and subsequently split that conglomerate into five companies. Breen then came out of “a brief retirement” to become the CEO of DuPont, which has since merged with Dow, creating DowDupont. “Stone Harbor has always been a special place to our family,” he said. “By creating the Reeds brand and its various components, we have increased traffic to our beloved island in the shoulder season. Guests attending a Reeds wedding or other events are able to experience this wonderful place. People come here to celebrate important occasions—engagements, anniversaries, showers, family reunions.” The Reeds hosts about 70 weddings annually, excluding July and August.
Dr. John D. Sprandio of Consultants in Medical Oncology and Hematology (with four locations in Pennsylvania) is recognized as a national leader in patient centered cancer care. He and his wife, Denise, were both born in Philadelphia, and they raised five children in that city’s Chestnut Hill district. He began visiting Stone Harbor as an adolescent in 1972, quickly realizing that “there was something about the town that was different from other Jersey Shore destinations. It was simpler, quieter, peaceful, and beautiful. I rode my bike up and down every beach block almost daily, and picked out two houses I thought were really sharp.”
In 1992, the couple purchased one of those houses as their summer home, where Sprandio now enjoys escaping from his medical practice for at least a month each summer. In 1999, the couple purchased the site of the legendary and razed Shelter Haven Hotel, which had opened in 1912.
During the next 10 years, the Sprandios developed plans for a new hotel, including getting all the necessary permits. In 2008, Breen attended a meeting arranged by Sprandio to explore the potential for a boutique hotel in the heart of the borough. Afterward, the men discussed their affinity for Stone Harbor and the business plan, and decided to join forces on the project. In 2013, the all new Reeds at Shelter Haven opened. Old photos adorn the walls of the new hotel, paying homage to the site’s rich history. But the duo began to recognize deficiencies in Stone Harbor’s offerings.
“There were good, but limited fine dining options, and no waterside options for dining, sharing a cocktail, family gatherings, socializing with the community, or watching a mesmerizing sunset,” Sprandio said. “Many existing accommodations were seasonally operated and in need of renewal. There is a significant connection between my career as a medical oncologist and our efforts in the hospitality industry. Success in both endeavors is highly dependent on a genuine culture of caring, maintaining a consistent level of personalized service, and an organizational goal of initiating and maintaining personal relationships with customers. Our team at The Reeds has successfully parlayed this culture into our brand.” (The Sprandio and Breen families are often seen enjoying the venue and mingling with guests.)
The Reeds’ contemporary coastal chic ambiance offers plush accommodations decorated with fine fabrics, fixtures, and custom furnishings inspired by nature and the sea. Its white oak floors are imported from Holland. Event spaces can host gatherings encompassing 10 to 220 guests. Resort amenities include seasonal bay activities, boat docking, and exclusive beach services, including transportation. There is a Roof Garden Sundeck for outdoor relaxation/entertaining, with two hot tubs and a plunge pool; concierge service; and free WiFi throughout the property. Complimentary seasonal daily yoga on the bay is popular, and guests have access to the Stone Harbor Golf Club.
The resort has five restaurants. The 385 seat outdoor Water Star Grille serves lunch, dinner, drinks, and weekend breakfast on the bay, with a side of those spectacular sunsets. The Gallery at Water Star Grille is a semi private seasonal dining gallery.
SAX, which is open year round, offers a “hip” experience with eclectic fireside menus, along with live entertainment in the lounge. The Buckets Margarita Bar and Cantina is a colourful seasonal taqueria style restaurant on the bay with themed days, happy hours, and late night cocktails. Wafflewich serves up frozen goodies, including signature made to order Coney Waffle ice cream sandwiches in season. The newest addition, the Stone Harbor Pizza Pub opened last year, and offers a full bar and 12 kinds of local craft brews.
Event spaces include the Sweet Grass Ballroom, which features wall to wall sliding glass doors that open to a covered, outdoor veranda with bay views and an indoor/outdoor fireplace. The Event Suites offer views, balconies, full kitchens, beautiful furnishings, and spacious common areas for gatherings of 10 to 40 guests.
In the two story expansion rising across the street, 22 new rooms are set to debut in November. The decidedly upscale, two level Salt Spa should open by mid January of 2019, possibly sooner, according to The Reeds’ managing director Ron Gorodesky, a long time hospitality expert and consultant who joined the hotel eight years ago. Luxurious treatment rooms will include a Brine Light Therapy Lounge and Turkish Bath, a blow out bar and makeup studio, a manicure and pedicure salon, waxing services, and a fully equipped fitness center.
Guests will be able to enjoy a one hour Soft Pack Float Treatment, starting with a gentle body exfoliation followed by a relaxing wrap treatment. They’ll then be lightly submerged into the Soft Pack System, a pressure free cushion of water. While floating, they’ll get a luxurious scalp and facial massage.
“Our newest project will further enhance our product,” Breen said. “The Salt Spa will provide valuable and needed services to our brides and will indulge guests year round. We feel these services are unique to the South Jersey area, and will encourage couples and groups to come here to be pampered.”
“The Salt Spa will dramatically change our annual business and is far more upscale than other New Jersey spas,” said Gorodesky, who was hired to make the resort appeal to a wider range of guests, including couples and families. Among the changes he implemented were the creation of the Roof Garden and the outdoor kitchen for the Water Star Grille. He also reconfigured existing spaces to create opportunities for larger multi functional special and private events, especially during the shore’s two shoulder seasons Easter through June and September to Thanksgiving. “We wanted to lose the words ‘off season’ and convert that to ‘spa season,’ ” he said, adding that he expects Salt Spa gift certificates to become hot items.
“The Reeds brand has expanded the usual drawing area for the Jersey Shore as we welcome guests from New York to Washington, D.C., and beyond,” Breen said. “We’re proud of the environment we have built here, and happy to be able to share this little slice of heaven with others.”
The Reeds at Shelter Haven
9601 Third Avenue at 96th Street / Stone Harbor
609.368.0100 / reedsatshelterhaven.com