A Rehoboth Oasis
By Mary Ann Treger. Photography by Andy Lundgren.
One day researchers will discover that a weekend at The Bellmoor in Rehoboth is the best remedy for many ailments. They will announce to the world in some stuffy scientific journal that the mere mention of its name reduces blood pressure, melts away stress and even saves sanity. At least that is my conclusion after spending a blissful weekend at this nearby gem.
The moment my husband and I step inside the front door, we sense the Bellmoor would reveal unexpected pleasures “Wow,” I uncontrollably blurt out to the bellman as he leads us to the reception desk. “We always get that reaction from first timers,” he chortles. In truth, I tend to reduce my expectations when headed to the beach. I anticipate a bit of sand underfoot and set aside thoughts of elegance or fine service found at fancier destinations. “Don’t expect much,” I tell myself. “We’re at the beach.” The Bellmoor has changed this jaded attitude.
Tucked on a side street two blocks from the Atlantic only moments from stylish restaurants and boutiques, the perfectly polished Brazilian cherry floors dotted with Oriental rugs pull together an assortment of creamy tufted leather sofas, cut velvet chairs, marble-topped chests and eclectic collectibles. Dark wood paneling and subtle lighting complete an ambiance resembling a private club or some successful friend’s fancy seaside retreat.
“There was a huge niche for a luxury property with outstanding service in Rehoboth,” says Chad Moore, General Manager. Moore, along with his two brothers and parents purchased the Dinner Bell Inn in 1999, a Rehoboth institution, and transformed it into a luxury hotel. His parents are seasoned hoteliers; they built and run the nearby Oceanus Hotel.
Attention to detail permeates the place. A small Oriental rug is underfoot in the elevator. Complimentary coffee and tea are available round the clock and afternoon tea and cookies are served daily between 3 and 4 p.m., a tradition not to be tampered with. In the summer, the tea is iced.
Nods to our region are everywhere—framed regional bird prints adorn walls and birds are subtly woven into damask chair fabrics. Despite the classy atmosphere, the attitude and service is “unpretentious sans a hint of snootiness.” It’s obvious the team here works hard to achieve perfection but their effort is kept well below the surface. Maybe that’s because running the hotel is a family affair.
I gravitate to a bright sunroom adjacent to the lobby, a comfortable space with plenty to look at. Rattan chairs with sink-into cushions are covered in a bright red bird-print fabric. They live amicably alongside a stack of wicker suitcases cleverly transformed into a cocktail table. Brass birdcages transformed into lamps are set atop chests or tables, adding a nice touch. A brick floor, forest green walls, gas fireplace and lots of greenery complete a space that is ideal for quiet conversation or curling up with a good book.
A few steps away, a large game room partners the decorative with the utilitarian. Shelves are crowded with books, games and collectibles that continue to reflect the seamless look of a private manor house. On one side of the room a couple hovers over a massive half-completed jigsaw puzzle, oblivious to our arrival. Off in a corner, an older chap considers his next chess move. There is not one iPad or computer game in sight.
After a quick check-in we are led to our second floor room, an ideal location. The spa, fitness center and adult pool (the resort has two) are a short stroll down the hall. The Inn has 78 rooms and suites (some with full kitchens) from cozy to deluxe, an adults-only Club Floor plus a two- bedroom cottage with a kitchen and a screened porch.
Our corner room has French doors that lead to a small private balcony furnished with two Adirondack chairs and small table. Our king-size bed is topped with a white duvet; two wing chairs on the opposite side of the room flank a gas fireplace. Chinese porcelain lamps and a diverse collection of furnishings reinforce the fact that classics always go well together.
With towels as thick as carpeting and white snuggly robes next to a Jacuzzi in our oversized bathroom, I want to linger or at least have time to admire the accessories (the soap dish is Chinese porcelain). But there’s no time. I have a spa appointment.
“B-r-e-a-t-h-e,” whispers Lin, my masseuse, shortly after I settle atop a heated table in a spacious room. I opt for an 80-minute hot stone and deep tissue massage, and Lin’s attention to every detail begins when a warm head rest is immediately placed under my neck. Lin kneads. And kneads. And kneads, adding hot stones to eliminate the kinks in my muscles and thoughts in my head. A few massages are memorable. This is one. I completely lose track of the outside world.
Our agenda calls for endless beach walks or strolling about Rehoboth admiring picturesque houses half-hidden behind picket fences, pausing to explore boutiques and unique shops. When the sun sets, we rendezvous with friends at Restorante Zebra where we’re spoiled by fine Italian cuisine served in a candle-lit Victorian house. The following night we dine at Henlopen City Oyster House, a casual seafood eatery. Both restaurants are a short walk from the Inn. With a full moon overhead, no other entertainment is necessary.
Each a.m. we refuel on the Bellmoor’s complimentary buffet breakfast—a sumptuous selection of made-to-order omelets plus Pennsylvania Dutch sausages, apple wood bacon, brown sugar caramelized oatmeal, French toast, house-made raisin scones and blueberry muffins. Our dilemma? Deciding whether to dine indoors in a bright sunroom surrounded by art and eclectic furnishings or outdoors in the tranquil magnolia garden.
Feeling melancholy we leave town unwound with a yen to return, savoring the joy of escaping a complicated world if only for a few glorious days.
For more information go to www.thebellmoor.com.
To create your own experience at the The Bellmoor call 302-227-5800, check online at www.thebellmoor.com or drop in at 6 Christian Street, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971. Learn more about Restaurante Zebra at http://www.ristorantezebra.us and Henlopen City Oyster House at http://www.hcoysterhouse.com.