STONE HARBOR — The Reeds at Shelter Haven, a 37-room luxury boutique hotel expected to boost downtown businesses and one of this seashore resort’s largest year-round employers, will open Thursday.
The hotel comes with two restaurants, back-bay water views and a second-story roof garden with two hot tubs and a wading pool — with most summer room rates ranging from $300 to about $650 a night.
Constructed in a year, the three-story hotel stands out at Third Avenue and 96th Street — the heart of a Stone Harbor business district that bustles with pedestrians each summer but quiets significantly from fall to spring.
That is what makes the hotel’s business plan of bringing off-season weddings and corporate retreats of particular interest to businesses in a borough with 866 year-round residents. Local shops may extend fall hours if more visitors are in town.
The hotel reports 35 weddings are booked for the fall, each averaging 175 people. Some weekends have three weddings.
“(Businesses) have said if the people are here, they will stay open,” said Jean Miersch, manager of the Stone Harbor Chamber of Commerce. “What comes first, the chicken or the egg? But people have said they will extend their season if the people are there.”
The Reeds at Shelter Haven will employ 150 workers seasonally and about 75 the rest of the year, said Ron Gorodesky, managing director.
Mayor Suzanne Walters said the Reeds at Shelter Haven is probably the largest private employer in Stone Harbor.
“Other than the borough, I don’t think there is anyone that employs that many people in town,” she said.
Restaurants at the hotel include the 64-seat, year-round Sax At the Reeds and the 175-seat Water Star Grille at the Reeds.
The hotel is owned by 100th Street LLC, whose principals are Dr. John Sprandio and Ed Breen.
Sprandio, 58, of Philadelphia, bought the property in 1999 for $1.4 million after another developer dropped plans to build an upscale hotel there. Formerly the site of the circa 1912 Shelter Haven Hotel, the old building there was demolished nearly 15 years ago after falling into disrepair.
Sprandio did not disclose the costs to build the hotel. The land is currently valued at about $2 million. The borough has not yet assessed the building at 9601 Third Avenue.
Sprandio said he saw potential in South Jersey as a growing wedding destination, which makes up a chunk of the hotel’s business model.
“People want to get married at the beach. There aren’t a whole lot of newer, upscale places, at least south of Atlantic City. There’s a need. And it was clear there was growing corporate business for meetings in the shoulder season, and Stone Harbor has a history of being a pretty seasonal town,” he said.
The recession and changing economy had stalled plans until the hotel assembled a team and then broke ground last year, Sprandio said.
Sprandio, a Stone Harbor homeowner, also owns commercial property directly across Third Avenue — the site of the former Henny’s Restaurant, a long-time borough landmark.
Sprandio said he is in the process of making plans for that area.
At the hotel, workers have been busy the past week preparing for Thursday’s opening.
Ed Orzech, who has owned the Paisley Christmas Tree Shoppe on Third Avenue since 1985, expects the hotel to boost business.
“To go from an empty lot to a tastefully well done building going with a little higher-end flair — I think that suits our town just right,” said Orzech, of Stone Harbor.
Apart from summer guests, Gorodesky said, drawing visitors in off-peak times is critical for success — measured not just by occupancy rates but by overall revenue and profitability.
“We’re trying to get events here that will then also create hotel rooms. We only have 37 hotel rooms, so that was a big part of what we want to do — let all these events drive hotel rooms upstairs,” he said.
“We have a lot of bullets in this gun, a lot of cylinders to hit on,” he said.
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