Not so long ago, Asbury Park, the Jersey Shore town most famous for its boardwalk and music scene—Bruce Springsteen’s debut album is titled “Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ”—was reserved for residents. Although it was once a popular vacation spot for Mid-Atlantic families, the 1970 race riots, along with Atlantic City’s casino boom – which began in 1978 – plunged the seaside community into a constant state of decline and neglect.
But today, Asbury Park has been restored to its former glory, and more – thanks in large part to the development efforts of iStar. After acquiring 35 acres and meticulously crafting a ten-year, multi-billion dollar redevelopment plan along the city’s waterfront, the real estate company is set to “improve what it’s always been,” said Brian Cheripka, senior vice president of iStar. land and development. “We continue to make the city a year-round destination, while trying not to lose the magic that makes this place so special.”
Need proof? Just look at the numbers. “About 15 years ago, the city received less than $100,000 in revenue from its beach operations, and the city’s parking revenue was nonexistent,” says Cheripka. “In 2018, beach revenue topped $2.5 million and parking revenue topped $5.8 million. And attendance at boardwalk events has increased nearly 300% since 2010.” Plus, iStar’s much-anticipated reopening of the iconic Asbury Lanes last spring – naturally, hometown hero Bruce Springsteen happened. during the reopening party – helped attract even more visitors to the area.
And this summer, iStar will unveil its most ambitious project yet: Asbury Ocean Club Hotel. As the city’s first luxury property, it will encompass the fourth floor of the Asbury Ocean Club, a glamorous residential building, whose opening will naturally coincide with that of the hotel.
Envisioned by Anda Andrei, the renowned architect behind the Asbury Hotel and Gramercy Park Hotel and Residences, the design of the 54-room boutique property is inspired by its natural decor. “The essence of Asbury Ocean Club came from all the elements of effortless beach living: light, sun, ocean and air,” says Andrei. “When guests enter the hotel, I want them to feel like they’ve escaped to a place of peace and tranquility that should be a flight away – not a 70-minute drive from New York City. “
From the moment guests step off the elevator on the fourth floor, they are surrounded by a true sense of relaxation. The hotel lobby, for example, is adjacent to the pool deck, which is outfitted with sunken beds, lush greenery, and a cart dispensing ice-cold slushies. And every element of the rooms and suites, from the 11-foot high wooden ceilings to the luxurious bathroom amenities of MiN and Palermo Body, has been carefully selected to help guests feel like they’re relaxing in a loft. understated and elegant (and not just another beachfront hotel). Even better? “Each room has a unique view and seamless connection to the ocean, pool deck or dune garden,” says Andrei.
While the accommodations are chic, it’s The Drawing Room that Andrei considers the jewel in the hotel’s crown. “Designed in a glass house that appears to float on a shimmering reflection pool, it sits at the center of the property and acts as the beating heart of activity, all hours of the day,” says Andrei. “I imagine this is one of the most used public spaces in the hotel, in every season.”
And since wellness is on everyone’s lips these days, the Asbury Ocean Club Hotel goes far beyond the usual dreary basement gym. In fact, hotel operator David Bowd — he’s also CEO of Salt Hotels, a family of hip East Coast properties that includes Asbury Beach Club Hotel — went so far as to work with a wellness coach to organize a multitude of offers, to help customers feel their absolute best. “Travel shouldn’t and shouldn’t change the way you live,” Bowd says. “That should improve it.” To that end, there’s a spacious fitness center designed by The Wright Fit stocked with state-of-the-art equipment, including Peleton bikes, daily classes (think pilates, yoga and tai chi) and, well, safe, soothing spa.
Although the gourmet restaurant on the ground floor – which will be open to the public – will not be open until 2020, hotel guests have plenty to eat (including breakfast, an all-day menu and poolside snacks) in the meantime. Bowd says the cuisine will be “inspired by a Mediterranean resort, with a huge raw bar and impeccably prepared classics including burgers, salads and sandwiches.”
The Asbury Ocean Club Hotel is located at 1101 Ocean Avenue in Asbury Park. Reservations launch May 1, with special introductory rates starting at $295.