Stone Harbor, New Jersey

Photo: Stone Harbor Recreation

A new spa, featuring three distinctive treatment suites, is about to open on the Jersey Shore. A Turkish bath. You’ll receive a massage after having a full-body scrub on a heated stone slab. A soft-pack float suite. You’ll be exfoliated, wrapped, submerged in warm water, and then massaged while you float. A brine light inhalation therapy. You’ll relax among a brine mist, energizing lights, and calming sounds in between treatments. They sound heavenly, right?

Since much of the Jersey Shore is boarded up for the winter, you’d usually have to wait until summer, or at least late spring, to test out a new opening down there. Not so at the Salt Spa. The two-level spa—plus blow-out bar, makeup studio, nail salon, and fitness center—is at the only hotel that stays open all year in Stone Harbor. It’s a chic escape regardless of the outside temperature.

The Reeds at Shelter Haven isn’t your typical Jersey Shore hotel. Sure, it might have begun that way. It first opened as the Shelter Haven Hotel in 1912 and underwent its first major renovation in the 1960s when it became the Shelter Haven Motel. The most recent upgrades, which started in 2013, turned it into a modern, boutique hotel. The three-story, cedar-shake building now has glass-mosaic walls and chandeliers that look like driftwood. The beachy decor perfectly fits a property that sits on an island and lies just three blocks from the beach.

Photo: The Reeds at Shelter Haven

The beaches in Stone Harbor are among the best in New Jersey. It’s not surprising since it’s one of the richest towns in the Garden State. The beach community covers the southern half of Seven Mile Island. The barrier island is just 16 miles from Cape May, the United States’ original seaside resort. Salt marshes and a tidal channel separate the island from the mainland, which is connected by bridges. Wealthy Philadelphia residents first started building second homes here in the late-19th century. The houses keep getting bigger and bigger.

But, thanks to the Reeds at Shelter Haven, you don’t need to be a multimillionaire to stay on Seven Mile Island. The hotel’s bayside rooms look like they belong in a beach house. Whitewashed oak floors. Woven rattan headboards. Warm sand tones. Blue and nautical accents. Sunset views. There’s a rooftop garden (with a soaking pool and two hot tubs), a waterfront grill, a casual cocktail bar, and beach service during the summer. SAX is the focus right now, though. The sophisticated restaurant has a large fireplace and elevated comfort food. Happy hour specials and live music make it an even cozier place in which to hang out.

So you have a corner king (selected for its gas fireplace), a new spa (the countdown is on), and the promise of piping-hot bouillabaisse (fresh seafood doesn’t adhere to seasons) for dinner. Seven Mile Island, Stone Harbor, and the Reeds at Shelter Haven suddenly sound like a great mid-winter escape. If the new spa meets your approval, there’s no doubt you’ll be returning over the summer.

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