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The Ocean Place Resort & Spa by Susan Van Allen

Take a Break at The Ocean Place Spa
on the Jersey Shore

I melted into the table in the warm candlelit room. Just hours ago I'd been cramped in a plane seat, traveling from Los Angeles, and now I was on the New Jersey shore, experiencing a Remineralizing Bliss Massage. Kathy, my masseuse, was pressing the exact right spots to make my red-eye flight aches disappear. Soft taped sounds of chirping birds and wind chimes along with the calming lavender and sage creams she rubbed over me brought me to dreamland. When it ended, I floated away in my comfy Terry robe to stare out at the crashing sea, and inhaled the fresh salt air in a state of pure euphoria.

I treated myself to a weekend of pampering in Long Branch, New Jersey at the Ocean Place Resort & Spa. I'd grown up in this sleepy seaside town, an hour's drive from Manhattan. It had been years since I'd visited the spot of so many idyllic summer memories. Old friends had told me that Long Branch was undergoing major redevelopment and attracting city visitors who preferred the proximity and casual atmosphere of the Jersey shore to the crowds, high prices, and 3 hour drive to the Hamptons.

From the moment I arrived, it was obvious big changes were in the works. Next to the Ocean Place Resort & Spa, Pier Village, a huge Victorian-designed waterfront complex was under construction. It will be completed in 2005, featuring boutiques, restaurants, a beach club, luxury rental apartments, music venues and amusement areas. This was a far cry from the broken down boardwalk I remembered from the 60's and 70's. Back then it seemed fine to me, but oldsters would lament, "Long Branch used to be so nice." They had lived through the tail end of the town's hey day, which began in the late 19th century when wealthy travelers summered here, enjoying its elegant casino, pier and nearby racetrack.

It looked to me from the bustling activity at Ocean Place that Long Branch was becoming "nice" again. The resort is a popular spot for weddings, business conferences, parties and visitors like me seeking a relaxing vacation.

The Ocean Place Resort & Spa Hotel
Ocean Place Guest Rooms offer all the ammenities needed for a spa getaway.

My ocean view room was spacious, featuring a beach cottage-like décor with pale yellow walls and whitewashed pine furnishings. I left the sliding glass door open to the private balcony, lulled by the sound of the crashing surf. At sunrise, boats dotted the horizon and locals on the jetties cast out their lines for the catch of the day. Later, joggers on the waterfront promenade and sunbathers lazing on the beach added to my breathtaking view.

A girlfriend from New York trained down to join me for the second night of my stay, transforming my solo getaway to a delightful gal's catch-up. We hit the spa, enjoying the steam room and sauna, Jacuzzi tubs and indoor and outdoor heated pools. A full menu of treatments is offered from facials, waxings, body wraps, and massages which incorporate techniques of reiki, shiatsu, reflexology, and hydrotherapy. The spa's reception area serves complimentary drinks and fruit and has a retail boutique, which sells high-end beauty products, from foot balm milk to eye masks, body oils and scented candles.

Though we could have gotten our exercise at the fitness center or tennis courts, we chose a good long walk on the beach, and then relaxed on the resort's private stretch of sand, where comfortable lounge chairs and umbrellas were provided.

The Ocean Place Resort & Spa Restaurant
Ocean Place, Restaurant

The Ocean Place Resort & Spa has two restaurant choices. Both serve top-notch American fare, including fresh seafood and spa menu choices. I had a perfect BLT with fries at the Ocean View Dining Room, amidst the airy elegant atmosphere of potted palms and floor to ceiling windows facing the ocean. Lavish breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets are served there daily.

For our evening meal, we settled into the overstuffed couches at the resort's Captain's Quarters. This dining room features a nautical theme, with dark mahogany woodwork, brass lamps, a bar and billiard tables. With the background of twinkling party boats bobbing on the moonlit ocean, we enjoyed delicious grilled halibut and a rich chocolate cake.

The lobby hallways are decorated with blow-ups of vintage postcards from early 20th century Long Branch. One of them pictured a crowd of bathers in front of a graceful Victorian pavilion. In charming old-fashioned script, Mabel had written a note to her friend Eva in Pennsylvania. Her words summed up my experience exactly: "Having a dandy time…"


Ocean Place Resort & Spa
One Ocean Boulevard
Long Branch, New Jersey 07740
Reservations: 800-411-6493
Phone: 732-571-4000
Special weekend spa packages available
Available for weddings, business conventions and corporate retreats

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