It's after Labor Day, so at this point in summer everybody is either thinking about school or football. So that means they're not thinking about the beach — good news for Marylanders who want to avoid crowds.
It's an especially good time to check out a few new places to stay. One option is the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites hotel, which opened in July and is operated under the Marriott Residence Inn banner.
The seaside resort is plenty beautiful inside and out, with direct access to the boardwalk, beach and downtown scene.
Situated on the site of the former Bethany Arms Motel, the all-suites hotel offers 112 rooms in two buildings spread out along a substantial amount ocean frontage.
All of the rooms come with kitchenettes completely stocked with everything from appliances to plates, amenities that are typical for the Residence Inn brand. Rates also include a fairly full breakfast and the hotel is pet-friendly. But only one parking space is permitted per room.
In addition, the hotel includes a saltwater pool, a Spa by Oceanova and 99 Sea Level, a high-end gourmet restaurant. Banquet/ballroom space is also available for events like weddings with up to 150 guests.
The good: On a recent visit just days after the unofficial opening, we found the nautical-themed rooms — what else? — cheery and easily fitting the vacation vibe. The rooms feature coral patterned carpets, sea grass motifs and natural reclaimed wood-like floors. Rooms are spacious and include a sofa, dining table with chairs, large dressers and a full kitchen, complete with refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave - all stainless, of course. But there's more - pots, pans and plates. Closets are roomy and bathrooms, too. Most rooms have balconies with two Adirondack chairs and ocean views. Dividers between balconies offer at least a modicum of privacy. Also, the hotel's free WiFi extends out to the beach, so you can surf while you surf.
The bad: The indoor/outdoor pool - it has a retractable roof - could easily have been a bit larger. When I visited there were three adults and three children in the pool, including one swimming laps. It seemed crowded already. Of course, with the beach so close there's no real reason to stay in when you can claim your patch of sand with a bit more elbow room.
The notable: While the tasty delights of the boardwalk are easily reached, dinner at the hotel is an upscale experience not to be missed. Head to 99 Sea Level for creative, lively coastal cuisine featuring lots of fish, seafood and farm-sourced ingredients. There is also a boat-shaped bar that offers up craft cocktails like blackberry rum lemonade and mermaid water, a coconut-infused concoction with a blue hue.
The tip: Stay in the off-season. Rates at the hotel start at around $199 per night in the off-season, but can really spike during busier times. Official in-season rates start at $489 per night. But, for example, the hotel showed a $600 per night rate for Labor Day weekend. So, it's a good thing you waited — and September (or even October) is beautiful on the Delmarva coast.