Motels, crowded beaches, and loud bars — much of the Jersey Shore isn’t the escape we’re looking for. But let’s face it, we’re not always going to endure the hassle of flying just for a weekend in Palm Beach; the Jersey Shore is, after all, in our backyard, and getting there is no more difficult than the morning commute. Fortunately, there’s a caché of warm, quiet luxury down the shore, and we know where to find it.
The Reeds at Shelter Haven is a 37-room boutique hotel tucked along the bay in downtown Stone Harbor, NJ. Just north of Wildwood, and isolated from it by two miles of inlet, Stone Harbor is a quaint coastal refuge adored for its small-town etiquette and pristine beaches. Located in Stone Harbor’s quaint town center, The Reeds’ long facade of cedar shake and stacked stone is a natural fit; Stone Harbor’s clean streets are lined with boutiques, art galleries, and fine dining.
The Reeds borrows its name from its predecessor, The Shelter Haven Hotel. Built in 1912, this precursor epitomized coastal refinement — with a banquet room, yacht landing, and elegant coastal decor, it sought to establish itself as the Congress Hall of Stone Harbor. The Reeds at Shelter Haven, now in its fifth season, is doing just that.
From personable staff who greet guests by name, to the eclectic Beach Butler service which chauffeurs guests in electric GEM carts, guests at The Reeds find a hotel tailored for quiet relaxation. The rooftop sundeck includes a plunge pool and two hot tubs, with complimentary yoga each morning. Guests can take full advantage of The Reeds’ bayside location with complimentary rentals of kayaks, pedal boats, and paddleboards. Or, for those in need of a pleasant afternoon on the links, The Reeds has partnered with The Stone Harbor Golf Club so guests can enjoy the private course without a membership.
Accomodations at The Reeds range from doubles to suites featuring bayside balconies, full kitchens and dining rooms. And while only the upper-level suites have their own soaking tubs, every room at The Reeds has Dutch, white oak floors, 100 percent Egyptian cotton bed linens, and coastal chic decor that is both comforting and graceful. The Reeds’ capstone is the sprawling Skye Suite which, for $1,600 a night, gives guests private balconies, a powder room, and two spacious living rooms. During the summer months, the Skye Suite is known locally as the Celebrity Suite — though, we’re not able to disclose who frequents this penultimate penthouse.
The suites at The Reeds aren’t just for private stays. With full chef’s kitchens and large dining spaces, guests often hold dinner parties; and whether the event is an anniversary party or a company getaway, The Reeds will arrange to have one of its own chefs cater a meal right there in the suite. The chefs here don’t just craft exquisite courses, they’re affable hosts in their own right.
Hosting group outings is a large part of The Reeds’ business, especially in the off-season. Whether a bachelorette party or a corporate retreat, The Reeds makes available its elegant Rooftop Garden, an indoor space for 70 guests which opens onto the sundeck and offers spectacular views of the bayside sunset. Groups can also reserve The Sweet Grass Ballroom, with retractable glass walls for access to the veranda overlooking the bay. While The Reeds hosts about 70 weddings each year, these larger — and often louder — events are only held in the off-season.
In the summer months, it isn’t unordinary for people to sail in just for The Reeds’ dining options. The Reeds’ offers a Dock n’ Dine service, keeping a dock master on-hand to help patrons tie-off and safely unboard, escorting them up the dock to the popular Water Star Grille. Entrées at this outdoor restaurant are prepared to be shared and brought out sequentially, allowing diners to take their time enjoying everything from gourmet sliders to the popular Water Star Shellfish Tower.
In all, The Reeds offers five unique dining experiences. SAX, located just off of The Reeds’ lobby, treats guests with an elegant dining room, a lounge and bar, and five-course meals paired with whiskies from their stellar in-house collection. Right next door to The Reeds is the Buckets Margarita Bar & Cantina, a funky, all-day, taqueria-style restaurant, and the Wafflewich Ice Cream & Waffle Shop: if you grew up visiting Coney Island, you know how delectable a wafflewich can be. New this season is the Stone Harbor Pizza Pub, a pizzeria-and-bar featuring specialty pizzas and a dozen local craft brews on-tap.
These community-based dining experiences are a part of The Reeds’ mission to ensure it isn’t a standalone attraction; Stone Harbor is one of its biggest assets. To that end, The Reeds has placed a focus on hiring and working with local residents. Staff members live in town, and live entertainment at SAX features prominent area musicians. Staying at The Reeds doesn’t just provide you with onsite amenities, you’re a guest of the whole community.