Our Stay at the Star Inn in Cape May

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I’ve been meaning to post about our recent stay at the charming Star Inn in Cape May, part of the Cape Resorts family of hotels and fabulous eateries. We’d walked past this hotel a number of times in the past, while staying in nearby Wildwood Crest and driving into Cape May every single night. This time, we checked in to our Carriage House room and immediately saw its potential as a Girlfriend Getaway suite with its roominess and upscale design. Not to mention its awesome kitchen and fully-stocked supplies in case you want to cook a great dinner while you’re there. Two spacious, airy bedrooms and a pull-out couch mean you can comfortably fit several friends during your fun group stay. (Ask for the upper floor suite — that view is excellent!)

It didn’t even occur to us to cook anything, since we were right across the street from Congress Hall’s fantastic restaurants. Upon suggestion by our friend Laura, we tried the stuffed French Toast at the Blue Pig Tavern’s breakfast, and it was sensational. Marscapone in the morning? Absolutely. And Joe loved his omelette so much, we went  back every morning.

I spent a lot of time out on our suite’s deck overlooking the ocean, spending some time in the cozy chairs and on the swing, and although I didn’t get to order mimosas to enjoy al fresco, it’s on my list for the TWO trips we have planned this spring and summer to stay at The Star Inn again and again.

The beds were comfy, the shower spa-like, the night quiet.

Not that we were looking into our neighbor’s windows, but we did see a pretty mint color in a corner room, so we may try that room on a future visit!

Here are some photos of The Star Inn’s rooms:

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Oh, and they have excellent coffee and fresh-baked pastries in the lobby! And fantastic drinks in the Brown Room in Congress Hall. And a sweet gift shop. I could go on and on forever about how much I love The Star Inn. It’s the only place, besides our honeymoon resort, that we would (and will!) go back to again and again!

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Fab Find! From Cape May with Love at The Virginia Hotel

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The Virginia Hotel is offering two unique Valentine’s Packages this year, featuring the historic Cape May Diamonds. Found along the pristine beaches of the Delaware Bay, the Cape May Diamond is a pure quartz crystal that appears as a frosted pebble when first discovered on the beach.  Once tumbled and cut, the stone resembles that of a real diamond. These shiny treasures are found in different shapes and sizes all along Cape May’s popular Sunset Beach. Throughout the year, visitors and locals alike scan the beaches for their very own one-of-a-kind diamond to keep as a reminder of their time spent in Cape May.

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Cape May Diamonds have a history that predates the birth of the United States. In the 1750s, it is said that the last chief of the Kechemeche tribe, King Nummy, presented a large Cape May Diamond to Christopher Leaming, a local whaler. The Kechemeche believed that the “diamonds” contained supernatural powers, and used them to seal bonds of peace and friendship. 
Today, similar bonds are created as families and couples scour the shores of Cape May Point looking for the famed rocks.

To honor the search for “the one” – that special someone and the perfect diamond, Cape May’s Virginia Hotel is bringing these local jewels to you and your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day with 3 special offerings. And for those who may not know, Cape May, NJ isn’t just a wonderful summer beach-town, it’s also a romantic winter getaway. With beautiful Victorian inns, a cozy beach-town feel, fresh salty air (even in the winter!), boutique shops, and delicious restaurants, Cape May is a special place to spend Valentine’s Day – especially at the luxe, critically-acclaimed Virginia Hotel and its fine dining restaurant, The Ebbitt Room.

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Your very own Cape May Diamond will be waiting for you when you book one of the following:

From Cape May With Love

Celebrate your next milestone or special occasion at The Virginia Hotel. Give a gift as unique as your love and as extraordinary as Cape May with a pair of beautiful Cape May Diamond Earrings. These precious gems are created from stones found right here in Cape May.

  • Deluxe Accommodations
  • Upon arrival, a silver tray adorned with chilled Champagne, chocolate truffles and a pair of Cape May Diamond earring will be delivered to your room.
  • $110 Voucher for Dinner for two in the Ebbitt Room*
  • Continental Breakfast for two
  • Complimentary Valet Parking
  • 1pm late checkout*Valentine’s Day dinner at The Ebbitt Room is offered as a Pre Fixe Dinner for Two. Please make your dinner reservations after booking your package by calling The Ebbitt Room at 609-884-5700.Rates starting at $345.00 per night Valentine’s weekend

Cape May Promise

  • Whether you fell in love on the way to Cape May years ago, or its your first visit to this beautiful place, you want to show that special person in your life how much they mean to you. This package promises to create memories that last as long as a Cape May Diamond. Enjoy the ultimate epicurean experience with a romantic meal in the relaxed and elegant setting of the Ebbitt Room. Your romantic getaway is waiting for you on Jackson Street.
  • Deluxe Accommodations
  • Upon arrival, a silver tray adorned with chilled Champagne, chocolate truffles and a pair of Cape May Diamond ring will be delivered to your room.
  • $110 Dining and Cocktail Credit for Dinner for two the Ebbitt Room*
  • Continental Breakfast each morning
  • Complimentary Valet Parking*Valentine’s Day dinner at The Ebbitt Room is offered as a Pre Fixe Dinner for Two. Please make your dinner reservations after booking your package by calling The Ebbitt Room at 609-884-5700.Rates starting at $360.00 per night Valentine’s weekend

Diamonds and Dessert During the month of February, The Ebbitt Room will be featuring Diamonds and Dessert – a decadent dark chocolate mousse bar filled with milk chocolate and peanut butter praline made for two and topped with salted caramel sauce, Tahitian vanilla ice cream, and dark chocolate hearts. Each dessert is decorated with a one of a kind 2-carat Cape May diamond, polished and shined from the beaches of Cape May and set upon crushed graham crackers made to resemble the sandy search for the diamond.While the stones themselves have little monetary value, like real diamonds the memories and legends that are associated with Cape May Diamonds last forever in the sand of the city’s beaches.

About The Virginia Hotel

The Virginia, Cape May’s foremost luxury hotel, offers luxurious accommodations and personalized service in an immaculately restored 1879 landmark building, reopened by Curtis Bashaw of Cape Resorts Group in 1989.  Featuring 24 well-appointed guestrooms, intimate public spaces like the lobby bar and enclosed sun porches, and The Ebbitt Room – the hotel’s signature restaurant, The Virginia offers its adult-only guests a flawless integration of service and style with a timeless glamour.  The Ebbitt Room provides its discerning visitors with seasonal farm-to-table offerings from Beach Plum Farm, bringing the fresh food movement forward in Cape May. Acknowledged by Condé Nast Traveler in the 2012 Reader’s Choice Awards as a top hotel in the Northeast, in the 2013 Reader’s Choice Awards at #2 in their list of the Top 10 Hotels in the Mid-Atlantic, and again in the 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards as one of the Top 25 Hotels in the U.S., as well as as in the magazine’s prestigious 2013 and 2014 Gold List, the hotel is nestled on Jackson Street in the heart of the famed historic district of Cape May, New Jersey, and is a mere half block from the town’s beautiful beaches.

The Virginia Hotel is located at 25 Jackson Street, Cape May, NJ 08204.

Readers are invited to learn more about The Virginia Hotel and Cape Resorts properties at www.caperesorts.com

FREE Chapter from my New Book “The Bride’s Guide to Freebies!”

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It’s time for another FREE chapter of one of my wedding books! This time, it’s my newest, “The Bride’s Guide to Freebies,” which is all about getting freebies the RIGHT way, and working WITH your fabulous vendors to score budget-saving items and services for your big day. As I always say, you’v got to hire great wedding vendors. They know where fantastic freebies are and can help you get them!

Chapter 2: What’s Realistic to Ask For

You’ll have far more success in securing freebies if you stick to realistic requests. Wedding experts have to buy everything that’s needed for your wedding, and the time they spend pre-, during- and post-wedding to fulfill your wishes is valuable. So asking for $10,000 in free catering isn’t going to be received very well. Asking the videographer to edit your video for free will make him laugh. Video editing is very time-consuming, often taking dozens of hours more than the time he spent filming your wedding to get just right.

To keep from insulting your vendors, or from looking like you’re completely naïve about how much food, liquor, flowers, fabrics and other items cost, stick with these rules to help improve your odds of getting a Yes when you ask for a freebie:

  • Ask what a vendor already has. As you’ll read in upcoming chapters, some vendors have storerooms  full of glass vases, pedestal centerpiece bowls, candelabras, linens and other items that were left over from prior weddings or not used because prior weddings were canceled. If you ask to see their stock, you might be able to have those pretty bowls or linens used in your wedding décor for free.
  • Ask for low-time items.   The reason a wedding cake is so expensive is that it takes the cake baker many hours to pipe on frosting in lace designs or make 200 sugar paste daisies to decorate it with. If you ask for an element that comes without a ton of labor, your freebie odds increase. “I had a bride who asked for thirty short-cut ranunculus centerpieces, and since they take a few seconds to make, I threw in half for free,” says one grateful-for-the-easy-task floral designer.
  • Limit your freebie-ask to one thing, such as an extra cocktail party station or an extra dessert, not an entire class of free things like an entire dessert bar. Managers are far more likely to reward your modest request with that one station you asked for.
  • Be open to non-identical things. A vendor may have, or may be able to get, small collections of coordinating chargers or table runners, and can mix and match in your reception space to great effect.
  • Ask for local things. If a vendor can pop to a local store to buy all the settings you need, she may give you a freebie because you haven’t required her to drive two states away, or organize a difficult order from overseas with customs hassles.
  • Ask for what’s in-season and plentiful. If your caterer can get bushels of seasonal apples from a local farm for next to nothing, she may throw in extra desserts or a hot cider bar. Visit LocalHarvest.org to see what’s in-season in your area during the time of your wedding as pre-research.
  • Ask for a style upgrade. I spoke with Marni Gold, from CreativeCustomCardBoxes.com about her  decorative card boxes that guests pop those gift envelopes into, and she said that when a bride orders a two-layer box, she happily adds on an extra decorated layer to a great design of card box to make a great impression.

What’s not realistic to ask for:

  • Food, flowers and other large-volume supplies that are the foundation of the day and come to the vendor at a sizeable price. That would be too much to ask them to pay for.
  • Free labor by their assistants. It’s not their job to iron your 50 tablecloths for free, nor is it fair to ask them to work your wedding day without fair wages. That’s actually illegal.
  • Free labor by other workers, like bartenders and valet workers.
  • Free shipping or delivery.  Fuel is expensive, as is the pay for delivery workers and set-up crews, so don’t ask for this one to be thrown in. (If it’s offered to you, great!)
  • A greater-value item than  one you’re replacing. If the florist calls to say peonies aren’t  available, so you’ll have to choose another type of bloom, don’t expect free orchids and tropical plants as the replacement.
  • Anything that YOU wouldn’t want to do for free!

More time that the vendor can comfortably spend on your wedding. This is important. When you book a coordinator, he or she gauges the scope of your wedding, how much work will go into your plans, and then how many other weddings he or she can book for that same time. If you start expanding your plans and being the Headache Client, you’re not likely to get freebies.

Get it at Barnes and Noble in paperback or NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-brides-guide-to-freebies-sharon-naylor/1111267553?ean=9780762780013

Get it at Amazon in paperback or Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/The-Brides-Guide-Freebies-Enhancing/dp/0762780010/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367504654&sr=8-1&keywords=bride%27s+guide+to+freebies

In Love With This White Wedding at Jumby Bay, a Rosewood Resort

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See more images of this dreamy destination wedding design at my Jumby Bay Weddings blog, where you’ll see the airy, ethereal look of all-white wedding design transforming into golden hues as the sun sets over this beach wedding scene. I’ll be posting image-by-image in the coming weeks, sharing the Jumby Bay design team’s best details and stellar work in creating a magical beach wedding setting!

Time for Your Caneel Bay Massage

And now…your Caneel Bay Massage Cabana break.

Calms you down just seeing this, doesn’t it? Whoever chose the Hawksnest Beach site for the massage cabanas should get an award. The view is spectacular, the sounds of the waves gentle and soothing, and the breeze that comes in to make your massage coverup sheet dance at the edges creates the loveliest feeling.

During your everyday life, you put yourself in the hands of so many different people…the person driving carpool, the person brewing your coffee, theweather personon the news. How welcome it is to find yourself in the hands of Caneel Bay’s very capable and sweet massage therapists. It is truly the best massage I’ve ever had, and I imagine that our many brides and grooms visiting for their destination weddings have found their pre-ceremony stress completely evaporated after an hour in the massage cabanas.

Afterwards, walking back to our room, my husband and I noticed the scents of the flowers growing on the trees far more than we did while walking to the cabanas. Every sense was heightened.

What did you love best about the massages you experienced at Caneel Bay? And for those who haven’t yet experienced open-air massages with us, let them know what they can look forward to….