We had an opportunity to stop into The Hugh, the new boutique B&B on Washington Street that opened in June. The 1883 Victorian was previously home to the Blue Rose Inn and Alexander’s, but it’s now in the hands of John and Sandy Vizzone, who were kind enough to let us inside for a quick photo shoot even though they were busy getting open. And Sandy even took the time to answer a few questions.
Have you always wanted to own a B&B?
From the second I set foot into Cape May when I was a kid. I was fascinated by the Victorian homes.
What made you choose Cape May?
Both John and I would come to Cape May when we were kids. Once we married, we took our kids here. Cape May is full of charm, beautiful beaches, and great restaurants. It was an organic move for us. It felt right.
Will you stay at the property full time?
There’s an apartment attached to the house. That’s where we’re going to live full time.
How long did renovations take?
We moved in on March 13, 2020 and worked non-stop until we opened June 23rd.
Did you do the majority of the work yourself?
There was no construction needed, but we did hire painters, floor finishers etc… All the decorating John and I did together.
Did you find anything interesting while you were renovating the inn?
We do have a piano, some tables, and light fixtures that are original to the house. We incorporated them into our design.
You call your style “Modern & Victorian.” Tell us more about that.
We took the best of the Victorian style and mixed it with the funkiness of modern art and furniture. We re-imagined our aesthetic and are calling it modern Victorian.
How did you decide on the color choices for each area of the house?
All the rooms have brass knockers on their doors. I noticed that etched on them were names of colors. We used that as our handle to decorate the rooms. The bedrooms are colorful, but the entire first floor is black and white. It’s like the Wizard of Oz. Everything was in black and white until Dorothy landed in Oz. Then everything was in Technicolor.
Which room do you like best?
I love them all, but I have to say the garden/breakfast room. It’s bright and airy. I’m crazy for the palm leaf wallpaper.
Where can we buy the cocktail table from the Green Room?
In the Green Room next to the purple chaise is a martini table that was purchased at West Elm.
You describe the art as “unapologetic.” We love how bold it is. Are there specific artists you feature?
John and I are lovers of modern art. We have pieces from Robert Longo, Elsworth Kelly, and James Nares to name a few. One of my favorite pieces is the black and white piece hanging in our stairwell. The artist is Jose’ Camacho. He lives in Montclair NJ where we lived before Cape May. I just adore it.
What would you say to a vacationer who isn’t sure if a B&B is for them?
Right now with this pandemic, a B&B is the way to go. It’s intimate, no crowds, and you get taken care of. It’s like staying at a friends house. At least that’s what we want our guest to feel.
What’s your favorite thing to make for your guests?
1) Dutch Baby Pancakes because not only are they delicious, but their odd shape gives them a WOW factor.
2) Shakshouka because I love watching someone eat it for the first time. It may sound odd to some at first, but as soon as they take the first bite, they’re surprised at how delicious it is.
Could you give us a sample breakfast menu? What should we look forward to?
We offer a sweet or savory option as well as something on the healthier side. Besides Dutch Baby Pancakes and Shakshouka, [one example is a] breakfast sausage and white cheddar quiche with a hash brown crust, or french toast bread pudding. For a healthier option, coconut and mango overnight oats. All our breakfast dishes are served in individual cast iron pans.
Are there any plans to reopen the restaurant to the public?
We would like to open a restaurant, but the timing is bad. With all that’s going on with the pandemic, we’re going to wait. Besides, we’d like to find the right person to partner with. They may take time.
Your website says spirits of the Hughes family might linger on the property. Have you had any personal experiences?
I haven’t had any experiences at The Hugh, but my husband has. We also had a guest tell us he felt tapping. Dr. Jamie Pearce—she studies paranormal behavior—wants to come to the house to see if she can connect. I said yes of course.
And finally, what’s the #1 thing you recommend people do when they visit Cape May?
Pack a picnic and go to Sunset Beach to watch the magnificent sunsets. It’s one of my favorite things to do.