Sean Ruppert’s custom-built Rehoboth, Del., beach house was fully booked for the summer by mid-April – and that’s hardly uncommon.
Upscale vacation rentals at the Delaware beach are a small segment of an accommodations market that includes hotels, bed-and-breakfasts and more, but there’s plenty of interest in high-end properties.
Among the most-desired features: “high-end appliances, gourmet kitchens, lots of granite, marble in the bathrooms, high-end bedding,” said Jo-Ann Bacher, the rental manager for the Rehoboth office of Jack Lingo Realtor. “Pools are a big draw, too, especially if you have small children.”
Other draws: beverage and wine fridges, wet bars, fashionable decor, multiple televisions and en-suite bathrooms. And everyone wants Wi-Fi.
In the summer, weekly rental prices can reach five figures.
Here, we take a glimpse inside some of the most impressive beach abodes on the rental market.
A block from the beach
“This is really our family home,” says Ruppert, a principal in a Washington development company, who uses the home in the offseason. He wanted it child-friendly and to exude a vacation atmosphere.
With a great room and a sunroom, the professionally decorated custom-built house has high ceilings and hardwood floors. The grassy yard is fenced.
The open-plan first floor features white walls, a spiral staircase and lots of natural light, allowing the furnishings in grays, black and soft blues to stand out. The kitchen, with white cabinetry, has durable quartz surfaces and stainless steel appliances.
Each of five bedrooms has its own bathroom, and there is also a half-bath. One bedroom suite is on the main level. Upstairs, there are curved walls and sloped ceilings, where skylights pour sunlight over outsized artwork depicting a snorkeler.
“It feels like a ship up there,” Ruppert says.
A firehouse pole accessible from two bedroom closets allows children to avoid the steps and slide downstairs. There’s an art area for kids: “We leave 8-by-10-[inch] canvases and ask everyone to leave a little piece of art for us,” he says.
104 New Castle St., Rehoboth Beach, Del. $7,000-$10,500 weekly. airbnb.com/rooms/5566383
On the park
This house in Rehoboth’s Silver Lake area is owned by its architect, Yavar Rzayev, who lives there part-time.
“It has lots of windows to make the house bright, and it has five [bedroom-bathroom] suites,” said Rzayev, who also owns and rents other homes at the beach.
On the main floor, living and dining areas have high ceilings. A wall with a mirror nearly from floor to ceiling reflects the living room, which includes a large backlit slab of onyx over a fireplace. The kitchen features ceiling-high, cherry cabinets, granite counters and a wine fridge.
Several artworks by the owner and his cousin, a Baltimore artist, hang in the home. A rear stone patio with a pergola provides views of an adjacent park.
Two bedroom suites are on the first floor, as is a powder room with more onyx. The three upstairs suites have cathedral ceilings.
“Each bathroom is different. I like to play with tiles and color,” Rzayev said.
The main master suite, which opens to a private deck, includes a two-sided fireplace and a wet bar.
703 Scarborough Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del. $3,300-$6,400 weekly. TGH Rentals, 610-212-1192, tghrentals.com/listings/400421.htm
On the canal
Renters of this professionally decorated house can dock their watercraft on the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, the waterway that connects the Delaware and Rehoboth bays. A set of steps leads from the property, which includes a private pool, to the boat dock.
Inside, the home’s open-plan main level features high ceilings and hardwood floors. It has a large, upgraded kitchen with white cabinetry, granite counters and a wine fridge. A dark wood island and a table with a bench and chairs provide seating. A second refrigerator and dishwasher are in the adjacent combination butler’s pantry and laundry room. There is also a separate dining room.
The home has several living spaces: one off the kitchen with a stone fireplace, a living room with a dramatic two-story ceiling, a sunroom that opens to the pool deck, and another family area upstairs.
The house has five bedrooms and 5 ½ bathrooms, with one bedroom suite on the main floor.
Vacationers can access the pool deck, which features several styles of seating in shade and sun, through the sun room and living space. Or they can catch a bird’s-eye view of the pool from an upstairs deck off a bedroom and living area.
32 Eleanor Lee Lane, Rehoboth Beach, Del. $6,500-$9,500 weekly. Jack Lingo Realtor, 800-345-3469, 302-227-3883*, jacklingo.com/rentals/delaware/beach-vacation/1197509
Caren and Ed Nelan created Moondock, their home across the street from the beach, by renovating what was left of a 118-year-old house and expanding to four bedrooms (plus a den that converts to a fifth) and 2 ½ bathrooms, giving every porch and room an ocean view.
Renters can fall asleep to sounds of waves rolling in.
“It’s has a cottage-y feel,” said Caren Nelan. “Everything’s nice, and everything’s comfortable, and everything is things I like. It was not conceived to be a luxury house.”
The decor includes restored family heirlooms mixed with new furnishings, along with paintings by her mother and other Rehoboth artists.
The kitchen, white with soapstone surfaces and stainless steel appliances, shares a soaring ceiling with living-dining areas. Custom pendant lighting made from recycled tequila bottles is suspended from a live-edge slab of wood over an island of reclaimed hickory.
The master suite features a soaking tub and a marble shower.
Renters may use the owners’ workshop to chalk paint or clean up local antique finds.
38 Surf Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del. $8,400 weekly. vrbo.com/1162514
A-frame across the dunes
This smart house with old exposed timbers is across the dunes from the beach. Not only is the shape of the four-bedroom, three-bathroom home unusual, but the house features three ocean-facing decks.
“It’s a dream come true. That’s why we named it Dream Palace,” said Dave Rather, a Baltimore restaurateur who owns it with his wife, Kelly. Its unique design is one of the main things that drew them to it.
With an upscale decor, it features slanted pale green walls, ceilings that go up to 20 feet and views from throughout the living-dining-kitchen areas and a main-level deck. The floors are bamboo.
The kitchen includes custom-built cabinets, granite counters with a breakfast bar and upgraded appliances. The living room has a wet bar and wine fridge.
Two bedrooms are downstairs, and two are upstairs; two bedrooms feature en-suite bathrooms, and the other two share a bathroom. A second-floor deck is accessible from an upstairs bedroom. The rooftop is home to the third deck.
Other amenities come from the rental company, including a package with a gym pass and discounts at attractions and restaurants.
7733 Atlantic Ave., Ocean City. $4,000-$7,400 weekly. Vantage Resort Realty, 800-555-4099, 410-723-1780, vantageoceancity.com/booking/dream-palace/84695
Brad Murray, the manager of Long and Foster’s Ocean City rental office, said he’s seeing owners renovating oceanfront condos.
“They are putting money into it,” he said, especially improvements that hold up well. “The ones that we have that are nicer are almost all brand new to the inventory,” he said.
Gutted and newly overhauled, this unit in the Plaza has enviable views. “This is a corner unit, so it is bigger,” said Michael Gill of Baltimore, who owns it with his wife, Harriet, who decorated it. “It has views east to the ocean, west to the bay and south to the strip.”
The condo features shiplap on some walls, hardwood floors and a color palette of white, blues and grays. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances, white cabinets, an island with seating and quartz counters in white with gray and silver veining. A wet bar with an icemaker and a wine-beverage fridge are in the living-dining area.
The master bedroom has a private bath. Two more bedrooms, including one with custom-built bunk beds that feature a charging station at each bed, share a bathroom.
The building’s amenities include indoor and outdoor pools.
The Plaza, 9800 Coastal Highway, unit 401, Ocean City. $2,795-$4,145 weekly. Long & Foster Vacation Rentals, 800-843-2322, 410-524-9411; lfvacations.com/vacation-rentals/maryland/ocean-city-md/rentals/814-plaza-0401
This ninth-floor updated condo at the Belmont Towers is a side unit with views of the ocean inlet, Assateague Island and the bay, so vacationers can capture sunsets over the water. Sliding doors lead from the great room and all three carpeted bedrooms onto a balcony that runs the length of the unit and is about 10 feet deep in some spots.
“The extended balcony is a reason why some people choose this unit,” said Steve Lohrmann, whose Ellicott City-based Best of OC Condo Rentals owns some units and manages others.
The open-concept living-dining-kitchen space features wood floors and light taupe walls. The great room and master bedroom have gas fireplaces. Both feature vaulted ceilings, a top-floor perk. The hallway provides a desk nook.
The kitchen, with two sinks, has stainless steel appliances and off-white cabinets topped with granite in beige and brown. An island has seating and a serving tier.
Each bedroom has a private bathroom. There is also a powder room.
The Belmont is located along the Boardwalk, making it convenient to Ocean City’s top attractions. Amenities include an outdoor pool and a putting green.
Belmont Towers, 2 Dorchester St., unit 904, Ocean City. $2,550-$5,050 weekly. Best of OC Condo Rentals, 410-715-1011, 410-419-1678, bestoceancondos.com/vrp/rentals/prop1006.htm
This 12th-floor oceanfront condo in the Gateway Grand offers extended views of the sand and water from all four bedrooms.
There are views of the ocean from the living-dining-kitchen area, too, and the living and dining areas have sliding doors that open onto a balcony.
“When you are looking north, you get a big expanse of the ocean,” said Robbie Harmon, managing director of rentals for Central Reservations.
Professionally decorated throughout in shades of cream, yellow and blue, the condo features a fireplace in the living room and rugs in muted colors over tile floors.
The kitchen has wood cabinets and brown-and-beige granite counters with a raised tier as a spot for serving or eating. A fan-shaped island offers more seating.
The master bedroom suite provides balcony access and views of the ocean and bay. Its en-suite bathroom features marble tile.
Another bedroom has a private bathroom and opens to the balcony as well. Two more bedrooms share a bathroom.
Building amenities include indoor and outdoor pools.
Gateway Grand Residences, 2 48th St., Unit 1213, Ocean City. $3,000-$6,300 weekly. Central Reservations, 410-723-4111, 877-736-8621, centraloc.com/property/gateway-grand-1213
Tips for booking at the beach
Online rental listings offer descriptions and photos, but it’s up to you to understand what you’re looking at.
Beware the “short walk.” If a listing advertises a “short walk” or drive to the beach or amusements, pay attention to the actual distance. Many online listings include handy map features.
Compare “sleeps” and “bedrooms” numbers. Many beach properties list the numbers of bedrooms and beds, along with their sizes and locations. Consider your group and decide whether those accommodations will be comfortable.
Qualify views. If its views you’re after, read carefully: All ocean views are not the same. Don’t forget bay views – and note that a side unit may have great water views. Check the listing photos to verify.
Consider individual needs. What does each person in your group require? This is especially important for multigenerational groups, members of whom may want a first-floor bedroom, elevator or fenced yard.
Check for additional fees. Which services are included at no extra charge, and which come with a fee? Understand taxes and charges you may incur for damage.
Read the reviews. They may alert you to issues like out-of-date photos.
Ask for clarification. If you don’t see the amenities you want, ask whether they’re available. If a photo or description is unclear, ask for more information.
*Correction: A previous version of this story listed an incorrect phone number for Jack Lingo Realtor. The office can be reached at 302-227-3883.