Whether you're a GTL type (Seaside, that’s you) or prefer a Gatsbylike feel (Spring Lake), each town along the Jersey Shore shares a distinctive personality. Just four blocks wide and seven miles long, the island of Stone Harbor shares a preppy sensibility. It’s a bit of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket rolled into one (this is the town to don those whale-patterned shorts).
Blessed with an authentic main street (no chains!), Stone Harbor lures a sophisticated crowd who flock here for fine dining, terrific shopping, and of course, a golden sandy beach. Just a few blocks from the beach and set overlooking the bay, The Reeds at Shelter Haven feels like an intimate hideaway yet packs the punch of a bigger resort. It also happens to be Stone Harbor’s only year-round luxury boutique hotel. “We wanted to be the heart of the town,” says Leah Marino, sales manager. Summer may be lovely, but “come in the fall or winter and have the whole island to yourself,” says Marino, who adds that groups particularly enjoy the off-season because of the intimacy.
The Reeds has 37 guest rooms and suites, each designed with an updated beachy appeal. Sea green walls with framed contemporary artwork and natural wood floors are the design equivalent of a fresh ocean breeze. Come early fall 2018 and The Reeds will have increased its size with a two-story spa and fitness center and 22 additional hotel rooms just across the street. “We will be a full retreat resort,” says Marino.
The sheer breadth of dining options for a property this small is staggering. There are four bayview restaurants, including the vibrant Buckets Margarita Bar & Cantina (in-season only), Stone Harbor Pizza Pub, Water Star Grille and Sax Restaurant + Lounge. Water Star Grille is the place to be in July and August, with its outdoor dining and four-sided bar. “The four sides ensure that there are no lines!” says Marino.
Set right on the bay, The Reeds offers complimentary kayaks, paddleboards and the Hobie Mirage Eclipse. A partnership with the exclusive Stone Harbor Golf Club entitles Reeds’ guests to tee times and the hotel can arrange transportation to the course just 2.5 miles away. “We are the only nonmembers permitted to play at this course,” says Marino. The concierge team can also arrange everything from wine tastings at nearby wineries in Cape May, boat charters, painting parties, group biking excursions complete with picnics, and even lobster or clam bakes.
Of course, no visit to the shore is complete without some time at the beach. The beach service shuttles guests by electric open-air car (similar to a golf cart) to the beach, where they are met by beach butlers who are armed with towels, beach badges, chairs, umbrellas and more. Want lunch? They’ll bring it right to your chair.
The ambience at The Reeds is decidedly laidback, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some real work done here. The setting is ideal for retreats, brainstorming sessions and smaller meetings. “This serene setting is very open to creativity,” explains Marino. The Sweet Grass ballroom, which accommodates up to 220 people, echoes the resort’s trademark casual sophistication and features floor-to-ceiling views out to the Water Star Grille’s deck and the bay. In season, the deck is kitted out with fire pits and warming lamps and is available for private events for up to 250 guests. With dreamy water views, it’s perfect for cocktails and mingling. “People want to be here,” says Marino. The Reeds also hosts events in its three hospitality suites, the Indigo, Sienna and Skye Suites, where dining rooms with fireplaces and full kitchens make these spaces ideal for chefprepared private dinners or cocktails for 10-50 guests. The Roof Garden, which offers a blend of indoor/outdoor space overlooking the bay suits up to 70 guests.