Living large at the Shore
There's plenty to be said for fishing off a pier and getting takeout for dinner, but sometimes only a charter trip on a 40-foot sportfisherman, followed by a candlelight dinner, will do.
The Jersey Shore isn't just about shot-and-beer bars, boardwalks, and take-out seafood. You can enjoy a luxe vacation at our little corner of seashore paradise, whether you're looking for a private fishing getaway, restaurants where jackets are still required, or to buy your own place to stay - private beach included.
"We're expecting a busy summer," says Capt. Bob Meimbresse, whose private trips for fishing, weddings, and parties at Cape May's Down Deep Charter Sport are filling up.
At the Grand at Diamond Beach, "we're trying to create a high-end luxury resort feeling," says Kim Bailey, who runs the sales office at the new private condo community between Wildwood Crest and Cape May.
So, try these Shore spots to get away in style.
Down Deep Charter Sport
Route 109 North, Cape May
Forget fishing off a pier - charter a boat through Down Deep. Its 40-foot custom Duffy sportfisherman has a flying bridge and a 700-horsepower engine to take you and your crew offshore in search of tuna, shark, or mahimahi, or inshore for striped bass, weakfish, and flounder. The boat is big enough for 15, and sleeps six comfortably for an overnight adventure. Fishing gear is provided, if you're more of a fun fisher than a serious angler. Not looking to fish? Down Deep also does sunset cruises and weddings. Prices start at $675 for an eight-hour charter for six people. Each additional person is $50.
Renault Winery Resort & Golf
72 N. Bremen Ave.
Egg Harbor City
Love to golf but need to unwind after 18 holes? Then check out the Vineyards Golf Course (greens fees start at $74), a challenging 7,000 yards winding through orchards and pine barrens. The orchards part comes from Renault Winery, touted as the second-oldest continuously operating winery in the country, dating to 1864. Play a few rounds by staying at the resort's Tuscany House Hotel (rooms starting at $225 a night), a slice of Italian luxury close to the buzz of Atlantic City but far enough away to make it a true retreat. Be sure to take a winery tour, too, and ask your guide why Renault was allowed to make wine during Prohibition (we don't want to spoil the surprise, but it has something to do with "Renault Tonic," which had little to do with medicine and a lot to do with clever marketing).
The Barbershop at the Borgata
One Borgata Way, Atlantic City
The Barbershop at the Borgata is not just a men-only spa and salon - it's a guys' haven. Watch sports on flat-screen TVs and play pool between treatments, such as a straight-razor shave ($35), manicure (neat nails, no polish, $80), pedicure ($65), or haircut ($30). To recover from a long day in the sun (or the night after), try the hot-towel treatment ($25), which is soothing and rehydrating at the same time. For a top-to-bottom reboot, try "The Whole Nine Yards," which includes haircut, shave, and manicure ($80).
Harrah's Waterfront Tower Suites
777 Harrah's Blvd., Atlantic City
Get a luxe suite and a view by booking a stay in a Harrah's Waterfront Tower Suite (starting at $499 a night). These oversized rooms, which range from 908 to 1,965 square feet (ask for the Red Door Suites for the largest), sit atop Harrah's Atlantic City tower, new last summer, and feature floor-to-ceiling bay windows that look over to Brigantine and the Atlantic Ocean. Each suite comes with a wet bar, soaking tub, and 42-inch high-def LCD TV with surround sound piped into the sitting room. It gives you more than enough room to relax in style before stepping into the high-octane scene below - or to return to watch the sun rise.
Ram's Head Inn
9 W. White Horse Pike, Galloway
Some Shore restaurants have capitulated to the dress-down culture, but not this classic steak house outside Atlantic City. Indulge in oysters on the half shell ($15), beef Wellington ($37), leek-wrapped crab cakes ($29), or, of course, the filet mignon ($37), all served amid soft candlelight. Or head to the Tavern bar for live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Looking to impress your group? Book a private dining room - Ram's Head sets you apart in style with white-glove service for groups from 10 to 350.
The Grand at Diamond Beach
9600 Atlantic Ave., Diamond Beach
After fishing and golfing, wining and dining down the Shore, why not stay the night? The Grand at Diamond Beach, a luxury high-rise condominium complex, was scheduled to open last month. Not only does the Grand have its very own beach south of Wildwood Crest, but the 125 condos offer Shore living without the Shore home maintenance. The one-, two- and three-bedroom condos run from $345,000 to $3 million, complete with private verandas, Italian marble bathrooms, and Brazilian hardwood floors, plus access to a sundeck and infinity pool. One night here, and you might never leave.