Summer Sells

In this month’s letter from the editor, Hobart Rowland discusses Avalon’s modern update.

File this one under: It’s About Time. For all of the moneyed vacationers Avalon attracts every summer, one would think there’d be at least one high-end hotel in town. Well, there is now, thanks to Chester-based Icona Resorts’ Eustace Mita, who, in just six months, has upgraded the stalwart Golden Inn to a luxury property. “Visitors accustomed to high-end amenities may reconsider Seven Mile Island as a destination resort now that there are accommodations that meet their standards,” says contributing editor Tara Behan, who wrote about the new Golden Inn for June’s Shore Guide.

Mita’s hope is that his version of the Golden Inn will be a destination for more than just overnighters. “He’s betting that the 21-to-40-ish types who pack Avalon’s two most popular bars, the Whitebrier and the Princeton, will venture south to try his new Beach Bar,” says Behan. 

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In other news, it looks like I’ll be staying close to home for the better part of the summer, thanks to a robust rental season that’s bringing more tenants to sleepy Avalon Manor, where my family owns a Shore house. Typically, we rent out the home for a few weeks. This year, it’s booked solid for almost two months. “We’ve had more inventory since 2008, due to the fact that owners couldn’t sell their properties, so they had to rent them,” says my family’s longtime agent, Ray Sampson
of Ferguson Dechert. “But we’re filling that now—and clients want more amenities. I’d compare it to the early 2000s.”

Fifteen years ago, my parents moved our summer headquarters to the mainland from Bayberry Drive in Avalon, prompted, in part, by an Oprah sighting in the house across the street. Anyone familiar with the unfettered affluence on Bayberry knows what I’m talking about. “The Barn”—as we used to call it—was among the first homes built on the street in the late 1970s, and it had nothing in common with the posh beach castles popping up around it. Within weeks of its sale, it was replaced by a hermetically sealed trophy home. 

Expect more of the same for Avalon in the foreseeable future. “Swimming pools are huge—one out of every two or three properties now gets a swimming pool when it’s built,” Sampson says. “We’re definitely becoming a super-custom, upscale market.” 

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: “Wildwood Days” will always be a cherished summer anthem around here, thanks to Penn Valley’s Bobby Rydell. After 73 years of ups and downs, the former teen idol has come clean with a new autobiography. “On the Rocks” features excerpts from the book, along with an introduction by Michael Bradley.

Summer is here. Enjoy.

Hobart Rowland

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