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.
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.
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.
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.
Place Guest Rooms offer all the ammenities needed for a spa getaway.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Place Resort & Spa
One Ocean Boulevard
Long Branch, New Jersey 07740
Special weekend spa packages available
Available for weddings, business conventions and