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The fam and I wanted to make a weekend getaway to an awesome East Coast beachfront hotel, but we had a troika of conditions:
Looking at a map, the mid-Atlantic region of Delaware or Maryland met our travel math needs (less than a four-hour journey), so I narrowed down the choices to Hilton Suites Ocean City (Ocean City, MD), Hyatt Dewey Beach (Dewey Beach, DE), Clarion Resort Ocean City (Ocean City, MD), and the newly built Bethany Beach Ocean Suites by Marriott (Bethany Beach, DE).
After surveying the websites of the first three properties on the list, the options were disappointing: the exteriors, lobbies, and rooms didn’t have much personality or warmth, and there was absolutely nothing distinctive or beach-y about them.
Bethany Beach Ocean Suites by Marriott (BBOS), on the other hand, showed potential. In fact, after a few clicks around the easily navigable site, it was obvious that the hotel was just what we were looking for, as well as a huge step up from the rest of the bunch.
Digging deeper, I saw that the ratings and reviews for BBOS were impressive:
The validation of the property by these enthusiastic user reviews confirmed the wisdom of our choice - so I booked two rooms, hired a cat sitter, and loaded up the car for the road trip.
Known as “the quiet resort” (compared to Dewey Beach and Rehoboth, its busier and more commercial neighbors to the north), Bethany Beach is home to 1,060 residents, a population which swells to 15,000 during the summer months. While most of the town’s delightful (and some quite majestic and expansive) Nantucket- and contemporary-style residences have been recently built, there are other homes and cottages that date back to 1901, which is when Bethany Beach was founded.
The journey to BBOS from NJ was direct and simple. As we neared our destination, the final leg of the drive led us along Garfield Parkway, which was dotted with a variety of local retailers. These colorful shops - including Fisher’s Popcorn, Bethany Beach Books, Beach Break Bakrie & Cafe, and Penguin Diner (which we ended up visiting several times during our stay and was excellent) - were understated, charming, and easy on the eye.
A right turn from Garfield Parkway onto South Atlantic Avenue, which runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean, brought us to the gorgeous Bethany Beach Ocean Suites by Marriott.
Construction of the three floor, pet-friendly hotel began in August 2014 and was completed in July 2015. It’s comprised of 112 suites with one presidential suite and two honeymoon/executive suites, and is the only oceanfront hotel in Bethany Beach.
Design-wise, the building’s exterior meshes seamlessly with the homes and stores that surround it. Unlike the anonymous cement behemoths that I found during initial my hotel search, BBOS is in harmony with the warm, beachy, and welcoming architecture that’s found on the eastern shore of Delaware.
I parked in a convenient space near the hotel entrance that’s reserved exclusively for guests who are checking in. Once inside the hotel, it was a quick elevator ride to the long, well-lit, and colorful lobby.
A much needed caffeination and hydration station allowed us to revive after our trek while Jennifer and Michelle, the excellent front desk managers on duty, speedily processed our registration. (FYI, these managers, along with others who we met during our stay, were fantastic: they made great recommendations of local eateries; provided a replacement for a forgotten toothbrush; instantly fixed a persistently faulty room key card; held the elevator door while my hands and arms were filled with cups of morning coffee for my wife and kids; and accommodated a last-minute request for a slightly later check-out on Sunday.)
A magnificent, 400-pound chandelier is the sensational centerpiece of the room. Created by artist Jeffrey Auxer from Berlin, MD, and from stainless steel tubes, free-hanging Edison bulbs, and 36 hand-blown plates, it’s nautical (it resembles a school of swimming fish), colorful, and stunning.
The lobby turned out to be a superb location for hanging out, reading, and relaxing throughout the weekend. Beautiful artwork by local artisans and photographic histories of Bethany Beach decorate the walls, lots of natural light beams in through large floor to ceiling windows, and plentiful couches and plush chairs invite guests to park their derrieres and cool out.
After quickly loading our stuff into our rooms on the third floor (my son and I in one room, my daughter and my wife Sue in the other), I parked our SUV in the lot beneath the hotel (parking is free for guests). I then headed back upstairs so I could get explore our living quarters.
Amenities in each bright and airy room included:
While a family of four could fit into each 500-plus-square-foot room, it made more sense for our squad - which includes two teens - to book two rooms. Here’s the math that explains this decision:
After the drive, the unload, and the move in, we didn’t have enough oomph to leave the hotel for dinner, so we decided to eat at 99 Sea Level, BBOS’ upscale oceanfront restaurant - which turned out to be a really smart and absolutely delicious choice.
Featuring culinary delights created by the talented Chef Danio Somoza, 99 Sea Level has been open for only a few months, but has already gotten rave reviews on TripAdvisor, Facebook, RehobothFoodie.com (“a beautiful venue on the boardwalk facing the Atlantic, along with what so far is a great menu and bar”), and the Baltimore Sun, which selected the restaurant for its “50 places to eat at the beach” feature and described it as an “upscale experience not to be missed” with “creative, lively coastal cuisine featuring lots of fish, seafood and farm-sourced ingredients.”
Get all the details about our amazing dining adventure at 99 Sea Level here.
Other noteworthy BBOS perks included: