tion of pharma and Fortune 500 companies, this AAA Four Diamond property,
featuring 183 spacious, elegantly styled
rooms, is made to measure for corporate
meetings and social functions.
Hosting groups from 25 to 900, the hotel
offers 16,000 square feet of flexible space,
including divisible meeting rooms and a
ballroom with its own entrance. Business
travelers can opt for Club Level rooms and
suites, with 24-hour access to the exclusive Westminster Club; there’s free shuttle
service to the airport; and for on-site
dining and private events, the Strip House,
WESTMINSTER HOTEL CLUB ROOM
In three Jersey Shore locales—Cape May, Long Branch and Asbury Park—a set of independent properties holds the keys to breaking the traditional meetings mold.
In 1988, Curtis Bashaw, then 28, was admitted to Wharton Business
School. His other good news that day was the approval of a business
loan, following six prior bank rejections, for his desired purchase of
the fading Virginia Hotel ( www.caperesorts.com) in America’s original
seaside resort, Cape May, N.J., where he had summered as a child.
Inspired by his passionate preservationist grandfather (a Cape May
legend), Bashaw embarked on both paths, schooling during the week
and restoring the 1879 landmark on weekends.
After unveiling his boutique update of
the 24-room, adults-only Virginia in 1989,
complete with versatile meeting rooms for
groups of up to 30 and fine dining at The
Ebbitt Room, his next Cape May restoration
was Congress Hall ( www.caperesorts.com),
where he had worked as a teenager.
Built in 1816 and quickly reconstructed
following a devastating fire in 1878, the 106-
room property, locally known as the “Big
House,” notably hosted five vacationing U.S.
presidents, including Benjamin Harrison,
who made the property his “summer White
Bashaw raised $22 million to totally reju-
venate the majestic property, which he re-
opened in 2002. Group space, with buyouts
an option, include the sumptuous 3,789-square-foot Grand Ballroom
and conference space divisible into three rooms. Dining options
include the Blue Pig Tavern, while the underground Boiler Room (the
hotel’s original boiler room) is an unexpected nightclub space.
The hotel is aiming to complete a $2 million room renovation by
Memorial Day 2016 as part of its bicentennial celebration, while the
Virginia is also finishing a room redesign this summer.
Bashaw has since almost singlehandedly reinvented the Cape May
scene, while extending his reach to Atlantic City, New York City and
In Cape May, his additional projects include full-service beach tents
at the Virginia (getting Wi-Fi and electrical outlets this summer) and
Congress Hall, and just two miles from the hotel, 62-acre Beach Plum
Farm ( www.caperesorts.com), which supplies his restaurants with
some 100 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers and will
soon feature a barn with kitchen and outdoor event space. Collectively, he has created an extended campus of creative options for truly
also frequented Long
Branch—along with six
other U.S. presidents, all
of whom are memorialized at Seven Presidents
Oceanfront Park in this revitalized Jersey Shore destination about an
hour’s drive south from Manhattan (in the off-season). Following a
sustained decline after fire consumed its pier and amusement park in
1987, Long Branch has surged back, anchored by the growing multiuse Pier Village complex of residences, shops and clubs.
With its long golden beaches, the destination surges with summer
crowds, but in the shoulder seasons especially, small groups have a
ready oasis in the Bungalow Hotel ( www.bungalowhotel.net). Set back
two blocks from the beach, this stylish 24-room hotel, available for buyouts (at little or no extra charge) remains the Jersey Shore’s only luxury
lifestyle boutique. The spacious, art-filled rooms invite creative thought,
with the Kahuna and Pipeline suites big enough to hold small meetings.
Featuring a bar, pool table and outdoor seating with fireplace, the
lobby serves as informal event space for up to 30 people. Larger
groups can convene at sister property Avenue (www.leclubavenue.
com) on the beach promenade just a short stroll away. Integrating a
French-inspired restaurant, rooftop club/lounge with pool, and private
beach club, this upscale Paris-meets-St. Tropez concept flexibly
accommodates gatherings ranging from corporate meetings and social
occasions to cocktail parties and beach barbecues.
With its famed mile-long Boardwalk getting a multimillion-dollar
upgrade, including 400,000 square feet of new retail, dining and entertainment concepts, Asbury Park was due to unveil a new 110-room
boutique hotel last month, The Asbury ( www.theasburyhotel.com).
spaces include the
Hall & Lawn, a flexible
intentionally left as a
“blank slate” to encourage groups to interact
with local vendors and
businesses to bring
their vision to life. Other
venues include rooftop
bar and event space, and
the Beergarden, featuring
food and beer trucks.
—Jeff Heilman THE ASBURY POOL
BUNGALOW LOBBY POOL TABLE
S TRIP HOUSE PRIVATE DINING