Friday, July 15, 2011

Asbury Park: Asbury Ocean Beach Inn

We drove just a quick hour and a half from Philadelphia to Asbury Park, New Jersey for our vacation. E. was on a flight about six years ago and read about the revitalization of Asbury Park. It stuck with him and when we were choosing where to go for our fourth wedding anniversary he sent me a link to Asbury Ocean Beach Inn. I had never, ever heard of Asbury Park. Not even through Bruce Springsteen. Shhh...I'm not that big of a fan. So I didn't know what to expect but was open to a new adventure. That is the best part of E and my relationship; he draws me out of my comfort zone and takes me to new places. If it were up to me we would have been at our cottage on Lake Michigan with my family. But we needed a romantic retreat and this was just the place for us.

The images on the website were beautiful and this B&B seemed like the perfect fit. We hadn't taken a week vacation away together since our honeymoon four years ago. 

We booked the spot only three weeks prior and were lucky to find that the Carriage House was available. We received a lovely letter in the mail from innkeepers Chip and Betsy confirming our deposit and stay. When we arrived Chip greeted us in the main house. I was immediately taken by the gorgeous stair and stain glassed windows. 

Chip gave us the lay of the land and showed us our table for breakfast. 

He helped us with our bags and showed us where to find bikes, towels, beach chairs and an umbrella. Free beach passes were also included in the stay.

There was an outdoor fridge stocked with water, iced tea, beer and wine. We had free reign to enjoy whatever our thirst desired.

We stayed at the very private Carriage House, separate from the main house and adjacent to this beautiful courtyard. 

I simply adore hydrangeas.

They were in full bloom and the light was stunning in the back gated garden when we arrived.

This fuchsia reminded me of Ireland where they grow wild.

The Carriage House was pristine with crisp white sofas and soft Berber carpeting. Eric settled in immediately and began to read through the many gems Chip left us in our welcome binder. There were maps and daily activities printed out for us based on our stay. The beach passes, bike waiver, keys and of course his daily menus were also included in the binder.

The bedroom was so cozy and had a hidden "closet" behind the curtain where we could store most of our luggage and hang all of our clothes for the week. The reading lights had three different settings, perfect for finishing my book club read for July. I immediately unpacked while E. drooled over the menus.

Everything about the Carriage House was perfect. The bathroom was tiny but had the most beautiful, brightly colored towels and shower curtain. I have no idea why I didn't snap a photo. The lighting was clearly important to Chip and Betsy. There were two fabulous Moroccan style lanterns hanging over our breakfast nook that you can see in this photo. The kitchen had a large sink, toaster, mini fridge and microwave oven. They even had a fabulous electric tea pot that also reminded me of Ireland. This was such a comfort knowing I could stay on my whole foods way of eating on vacation. After loosing 15 pounds and two inches from my entire self I didn't want to come back from vacation feeling unhealthy. We felt rested, energized and so loved while were were guests at this Inn.

We woke up early each morning to take a cruise on the boardwalk with the bikes. It helped us justify the incredibly large and generous portions back at the Inn for breakfast. E. fell in love with the homemade scones and jams. Before arriving I sent Chip a few of our allergies. He was so amazing and made sure we were both taken care of and that Eric would be jealous of my meal as well. 

The breakfast area was beautiful. The color therapy at this B&B worked magic on us both. You can tell one of the owners is an artist. 

I mentioned Eric's allergy to kitties and they assured us that the Carriage House was kitten free. Even though a few of the cats roamed the main house Eric couldn't tell at all. He is deathly allergic so they have done a great job to keep the main house allergen free. They even offered to deliver breakfast to the Carriage House if he had any issues.

It was fun seeing the kitties snuggled up in a few of the rooms.

Chip spoiled me rotten. One day he made fresh, gluten free English muffins with currants. His signature potatoes were delicious with tons of garlic. I had bacon almost every morning. I loved his gluten free waffles too.

My staple meal was Chip's perfectly cooked oatmeal with fresh fruit and raisins. Horrible photo but beautiful meal. My detox taught me that staying on a whole grain diet in the morning and at lunch really sustained my energy for the day. If I don't eat whole grain at these times I am now a complete bear and can not function after 2:00 p.m.

Eric had the seven grain French toast the first morning and nearly died and went to heaven it was so good. He had an omelet a few days with bacon and a spiced sausage.

Eric's favorite meal of the week were Chip's waffles. I mean, seriously? Doesn't that look delicious? He had seconds!!!

I loved seeing my Charlie so relaxed and happy.

The New York Times was always ready and waiting for us and we often enjoyed the paper on the porch after breakfast.

Chip and Betsy made us feel right at home. They worked beautifully as a team behind this ornate partition. The Carriage House was just through the kitchen past the courtyard and we often cut through the back of the house to get to our little cottage. I covet their work space so much. The colors really make it the most inviting home ever.

Every room was more colorful and tasteful than the next. The water closet off the dining room was no exception. Coral, white and black must find a place at Stone Hill.

I dream of moving to the beach and selling sea shells by the seashore!

The reading room welcomed you with a yellow, white and black decor with splashes of red. I die! The peace pillow is so perfect for this hippie-esque modern couple.

Each day we left our menu order on the marble coffee table for Chip before 8:00 p.m. They have a great library and allow guests to take books home that don't get completely read on vacation. They simply ask you to send them back when finished. I may send them all of my book club books that I will never read again. All of their magazines are up to date and current. I must have brought 20 new magazines for the beach and each one seemed to be in their rack!

We had so many fun conversations on the porch. It was so comfortable, cool and breezy.

The geraniums reminded us of The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

We have already booked our second trip to go back to Asbury Ocean Beach Inn.

Chip and Betsy made us feel so comfortable and completely spoiled. They were not only generous in their incredible care of us and our allergies, but genuinely wanted to listen to our stories and actively engaged with us. They are so proud of Asbury Park and how far it has come over the past years. 

I didn't know what to expect in Asbury Park but there were two websites that got us really excited to explore: In! Asbury Park New Jersey and Abury Park Boardwalk. The Carousel was fabulous and funky. The costume designer for the show moving in was also a guest at the Asbury Ocean Beach Inn. She was a child of the 80's and so happy to be working on Xanadu. I totally get that. I can't tell you how many roller skating themed birthday parties I had as a child. 

Some of the buildings were shells of their former selves but still had a charm for days. The restoration process is happening and I look forward to see what happens in the next years.

This entire wedding party burst into laughter when their photographer got down on his belly to take this photo. The light was incredible. What a cool, cool spot for a group wedding photo. 

We went back every day and I shot different photos of this way cool space.

You can see the Asbury Ocean Beach Inn just beyond the new construction sign in this photo. It was two blocks from the beach. A nice walk after many meals.

There are new condos popping up all over this area and I imagine the place will look very similar to Baltimore's Harbor East in the next five years.

Each afternoon we received a bountiful snack tray at tea time back at the Inn. One day they even packed it up for us so we could take it to the beach. There were gluten free snack chips that were the bomb!

On our anniversary afternoon they brought a beautifully wrapped present for us along with the snacks.

The gift included two fabulous Tillie towels from one of their friend's shop on Cookman Street. Tillie was the town "mascot" if you will. George Tilyou was the brain child behind the amusement park in Coney Island and this image became iconic in Asbury Park. We had to find the photo booth and capture the fun of this old school town. The Tillie towels were so awesome and I've been using them in my lunch box each day this week. It is such a darling reminder of our wonderful rest.

We loved coming back each afternoon to clean up gearing up for our date nights.  We explored up and down the New Jersey shore. It was a really great trip. The beaches aren't crowded and the people are so friendly. You won't see any "Snookie's" in this part of NJ thank heavens. There is a great mix of people and a funky vibe to the town. There wasn't a chain restaurant for miles. This sense of independent ownership translated into a way-cool vibe with unique gift shops, excellent restaurants and one very special coffee shop that I'll write about soon.

Thank you so much Chip and Betsy for the great visit and your gift of hospitality. Your home was the heart of Asbury Park for us. We had the best time and look forward to our next trip.


Tiffany from HOLIDAY said...

Asbury! Nelle, you have no idea how much I enjoyed this post. I met my husband in a near-by beach town and while we dated, we took many walks on that boardwalk. This was back when it was still pretty run-down but we'd put our hoddies on in the winter and walk it, loving the old buildings, and going to a huge antique shop, which is no longer the time it was about the only thing opened. I was blown away when I went back 2 years ago at how built up it was and how many shops and restaurants had opened up. And I see the Casino is opened to where you can walk through it...that's interesting.

Did you ever see the movie, City by the Sea, with James Franco and Robert DiNiro? You'll recognize a lot of Asbury before the restoration - that's how it was when we'd walk around down there. I'm convinced The Sopranos shot a scene or two there as well.

Gosh...I may need to dig up a pic or two and post it in your honor. LOVE LOVE LOVE that y'all took this little adventure!

JMW said...

This looks like such a fun get-away! We all need these types of vacays with our hubbies, don't we? Good for the soul. Looks like such a charming place. (BTW, love the tunic you are wearing in one of the photos - fabulous!) Okay, the images from your breakfast are making my stomach growl - off to grab some breakfast of my own. :)

Ryan Eakin said...

I love Asbury Park! A college friend grew up in Brick, NJ and whenever we visit her family we always spend a day at Asbury. So much history and just a generally cool, chill place to visit.

I'm so glad you got to go and had fun!

By the way, those banana pancakes look amazeballs. #Jealous

Pat's Addition said...

Oh my...the Casino! I went to many things there...Monmouth College (now University) basketball games and more. I grew up in Elberon from 7th grade on, just up the road, but spent the summer I was five in AP. Back then it was a lovely beach town, all old big houses. Ocean Avenue went all the way up the ocean front, not closed off like now. It was THE place to circle and boy watch in high school (oh those summer nights!) I worked in a candy store on the boardwalk, and waitressed in Ocean Grove just across the AP line. There were peddle boats on the lake, and 2 fab baroque movie palaces that were torn down long ago. And the Stone Pony and Bruce. This is a city that needs to be brought back. Only an hour from NYC, ya'd think it would be more discovered.

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

Wow sounds like the PERFECT weekend. What a lovely place to stay. It's funny because I randomly discovered your blog and at a perfect time - this is the town that one of my fav bands is from (not Bruce's hehe!) and I knew nothing about it besides it being in NJ. So this is an extra cool post :)

An Eye for Detail said...

Oh so romantic and you two look SO happy! congratulations Nelle.
I don't know Asbury Park at all....but spent many summers on Long Beach Island, then Avalon, and finally in Spring Lake.
You might check out Spring Lake: beautiful boardwalk, and def. a family town and gorgeous beach.
Oh, I could use some beach this weekend!