Greetings from Asbury Park!
Because I am a New Yorker through and through, I have to admit, I have not spent a lot of time thinking about New Jersey. Yes, I am a big fan of the truly wonderful New Jersey theatre scene and support it in any way I can. I have had a couple of clients there, and so have spent time working in New Jersey. I know there are a number of fabulous restaurants in the Garden State. And I am partial to Jersey tomatoes and corn. Other than that, I pretty much stick to exploring places in and around the Empire State when I am looking to find interesting spots to visit. But something in me shifted very recently, when I had the occasion to travel to Asbury Park, New Jersey.
I was at a meeting at the neighboring town of Bradley Beach, and made my way to the adjacent town, both situated at the edge of the Atlantic. As I navigated the revitalized streets of Asbury, cruised past beautiful old houses and shiny new condos, experienced the diversity of the people, and saw some really cool restaurants, my curiosity was peaked. I also got wind of a brand new hotel that had just opened in town, that was getting some very positive buzz.
Having had my first very positive experience in Asbury, I felt compelled to return, and so we did, booking a night at the new Asbury Hotel.
The Asbury Hotel took in their first visitors Memorial Weekend, following the 50 million dollar renovation of a dilapidated Salvation Army structure, with a piece of the old brick wall salvaged and integrated into the hotel’s interior wall.
The best part of the hotel is the lobby. A most friendly gathering place to play games, lounge in comfortable sofas, have affordable drinks, hear really great recorded as well as live music, and view the extensive record (yes as in 33’s!) album collection, this is the place where you want to spend most of your time. Music is very much a part of the culture of the Asbury, as it is in the town.
There is an outdoor pool, a beer garden, a rooftop lounge and an outdoor deck where movies are shown. (Unfortunately, I was there on a Monday night when the roof lounge is closed, but I hear it really is a great place to visit for drinks, socializing, views and music.)
The rooms are pretty basic looking and they still have some work to do on logistics. As an example, check in is 3 pm, and yet when we got there at 5 pm, the room wasn’t ready. The hotel staff made up for it though, by offering us two drinks on the house at the bar. That is my kind of welcome.
Once in the room, we noticed the bathroom sink was kind of backed up, and when in the shower, we learned a little too late that the soap and shampoo dispensers were pretty much depleted. And, oh yes, at 9am, the annoying, insistent sounds of construction got underway right outside our window. But I am telling you the great vibe at the hotel, and the relaxed nature really made up for all the faux pas. (As an example, the “front desk” which is just a large open area where the Asbury workers check you in on laptops, is situated in front of cubbyholes where flip flops and beach towels are for sale. The Asbury staff are super casual in jeans, sneakers, hoodies, and wear buttons of all kinds on their sweatshirts.) I observed a very mixed crowd and happily noticed that an older crowd dominated. The folks may have been older, but they were definitely cool and interesting.
Now the town of Asbury offers tons of great restaurants, so the biggest problem is deciding where to go.
We were there at the height of vacation time in early August, and when we ventured to the beach and boardwalk, we were surprised at how un-crowded it was. The sand on the beach was extremely clean, and there was plenty of room for everyone. The boardwalk has a little bit of retail, and plenty of eateries, but it was not jammed or over-run. The feeling was fun, calm and cool.
So, after all these great experiences, I am admitting it. I am now an Asbury Park, (yes, New Jersey!) fan and can’t wait to go back.