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What’s happening to the Sandpiper Beach Inn?

What's happening to the Sandpiper Beach Inn?

WOW!!  Hands down the e-mail of the month goes to all of you out there in cyber space who have been trying to contact the Sandpiper Beach Inn. Here are just a few examples:

“Trying to contact the Sandpiper Beach Inn. I have been unable to bring up their web site. Loved staying there. Have they changed ownership? How can I get in touch with them?”

“I was trying to find the website for the Sandpiper Inn; however, I receive messages that it cannot be found. I also notice that it is not listed in your Hotel listings. I have not been to Cape May for a year…has something happened to this hotel?”

“My husband and I have vacationed at Cape May at the Sandpiper Beach Inn for the last 10 years. We understand the Sandpiper has been sold. This was the best hotel in Cape May and my husband and I are heartbroken that it was sold.  Do you know what will happen to the property?”

Well, friends, here’s the scoop.

With the promise of Spring comes the inevitable change which takes hold in Cape May. Businesses close, others reopen in their place. Houses are renovated. B&Bs change hands. And sometimes, your favorite hotel undergoes a dramatic change. Such is the case with the Sandpiper Beach Inn at Beach and Grant avenues.

Built in the early 80s, the 65-room, adults-only oceanfront hotel owned by Ruth and Bob Escher, was sold in January of this year to Cape Advisors, Inc. owned in part by the Bashaw family of Congress Hall, Star Inn, and Virginia Hotel fame.

The bad news is that the Sandpiper will not be open for business this year, according to Curtis Bashaw.

The good news is that renovations are currently underway.

“We’re redesigning now,” said Bashaw, “to upgrade the décor and the amenities. We’re putting in new bathrooms and upgrading the kitchenettes. The goal is to bring the Sandpiper up to the same standard that we provide in our other properties the Star Inn, the Virginia Hotel, and Congress Hall.

The new owners are shooting for a grand opening in early 2006.Unlike the old Sandpiper, the newly improved Sandpiper will be open year-round and will welcome families with children.

When asked if the rumors are true that the Sandpiper will operate as a condo-hotel when it reopens, Bashaw said emphatically, “Maybe. We would have to start the application process for that distinction. We have had inquiries from lots of long time guests asking if they can take a more active part in the process.”

The idea of a condo-hotel, said Bashaw, is a “national trend.”

Other resorts like Disney World are stepping into the venture. A recent article in the Orlando Business Journal says, Orlando “may be on the verge of another wave of hotel growth, spurred by a concept relatively new in hotel development here — the condominium hotel.”

A condo-hotel or “condotel” sells individual rooms to be either rented as a regular hotel room or used by the owners themselves. Some restrict the number of days the owner can occupy the room, thus maintaining an ambiance of a hotel rather than a condominium.

Concurring with the hotel philosophy of management, Bashaw said, “We like the idea of pursuing a transient business rather than a more passive business where people spend a few days out of the year at the property and the rest of the time the property is vacant.”

For all the Sandpiper’s loyal customers who have written CapeMay.com inquiring about its status and lamenting its loss, Bashaw has these words of solace, “We intend to run (the Sandpiper) pretty much as it was and it will pretty much function as it has.”

He emphasized the Bashaw family’s desire to bring the same standards of excellence to the Sandpiper as they have brought to Cape May in the past.

If, however, you are looking for an “alternative” choice of hotels and one which shares the philosophy of the old Sandpiper, the owner of the Sea Crest Inn on Beach Ave and Broadway invites you to give them a try. To that end, they are offering a 10% discount to former Sandpiper guests during the off season and mid-week.