Oprah Winfrey has often been spotted on glamorous vacations: from hiking in the mountains of Maui, Hawaii; to truffle hunting in Umbria, Italy; to cruising around the Spanish island of Ibiza on one of the world’s biggest yachts.
But the media mogul and tastemaker has also been known to visit the sleepy beach towns of New Jersey. Longtime partner Stedman Graham is from Cape May County, at the southernmost tip of the state’s coast, where fresh seafood and wide swaths of sandy shores abound and beach cruisers are the preferred method of transportation. When visiting Graham’s family, the couple stay at The Reeds at Shelter Haven.
Situated in Stone Harbor, on the quiet bayside of the barrier island Seven Mile Beach, about 15 miles north of Cape May, the award-winning luxury hotel is exactly the kind of place in which you’d imagine the megastar would feel at home. Designed with white oak floors and soothing blue accents, many of its rooms and suites have views of the Shelter Haven Basin, and some come with fireplaces and soaking tubs.
The resort is open year-round, and the list of amenities reads like a roundup of Oprah’s Favorite Things. During the summer months, gratis water activities on the bay include kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, and beach butlers assist with the biggest hassle of any beach day: shuttling guests to the sand in an electric golf cart, and setting up resort-branded chairs, towels, and umbrellas. On the hotel’s rooftop, the garden sundeck hosts complimentary yoga in the mornings, plus a plunge pool for taking a dip any time of day.
Last May, The Reed’s two-level Salt Spa opened, offering beyond-the-basic treatments like the brine light inhalation lounge (with a Himalayan salt waterfall and light therapy, meant to promote relaxation and enhance overall well-being), flotation therapy, and a private hammam (Turkish bath) tiled with glimmering floor-to-ceiling mosaics.
The hammam services include a mud treatment that begins with an essential-oil-infused body scrub and warm mud application on the heated marble massage table, and ends with a steam room and gentle shower. Classic massages and manicures are also on the menu.
There are plenty of dining options on the property, including the scene-y Water Star Grille with its front-row views of the boat-dotted bay and evening sunsets, and Wafflewich, the sweetshop specializing in made-to-order ice cream sandwiches on fresh-pressed waffles.
But given The Reeds’ prime location in downtown Stone Harbor, it’s easy to stroll around the quintessential Jersey Shore town. Boutiques selling sundresses and coastal home decor line Third Avenue and its side streets. Stop for a smoothie at Green Cuisine, sample fried shrimp at Quahog’s Seafood Shack, and don’t miss the saltwater taffy at Fudge Kitchen. (You’ll be greeted by friendly staff offering samples of small-batch-made vanilla and chocolate fudge, hand-whipped in copper kettles. Say yes to both flavors.) Less than a mile from the hotel is the Wetlands Institute, where you can explore some of the 6,000-acre preserve on an educational guided tour of beaches and dunes.
While the Jersey Shore has endured a dip in reputation thanks to the eponymous MTV show the entire state of New Jersey would prefer to forget, the quaint town of Stone Harbor and idyllic Reeds at Shelter Haven prove this destination is worth a visit.
And if it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for the rest of us.
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