We have been staying at this hotel for the past 8 years. It has always exceeded our expectations, thanks to the previous owners, Dennis and Grace Krause.
Unfortunately, Dennis and Grace sold out last year to a new owner. We returned this year to see if there were any differences. Read on.................
First of all, I write this from the perspective of a person who has worked in the restaurant and hotel industry for 30 years and has spent a lifetime catering to customers. I understand how little things can make or break an experience, and I also understand what it means when you begin to see small downward changes in the quality of an establishment. It is almost never a good sign.
Bathroom soap is one of the cheapest aspects of running a hotel/motel. Dennis and Grace always used these fancy little soap bars, wrapped in fancy cellophane wrapping. My wife absolutely loved ‘em. I liked that they smelled like normal soap and I really appreciated that the owners cared enough about even the smallest of details of the stay to make it a better experience for their guests. But anyway, the point is, these little bars probably cost no more than 25 cents additional a room (over the cost of those cheesy little motel bars you can barely get the paper off of before it disintegrates in your hands). The cost for the better bars is not prohibitive, even if you multiply that by 30 rooms. But lets say it was a buck more a room. Okay, $30 bucks a night for the cost of a whole hotel that charges $159 a night. Its clearly not breaking the bank, another words. However, if you are the new owner of a motel and you try to cut costs by saving money on one of the cheapest things possible, it doesn’t bode well, because it means you’re eventually bound to cut the bigger yearly expenses that come your way, and it is something that signals to me, trouble.
The previous owners routinely had the motel swept for bedbugs with bed bug sniffing dogs. Huge expense.
The previous owners always had the motel pool heated, no matter what time of the season or it was used. Fuel; huge expense.
They previous owners employed a staff of about 12 housekeepers and maintenance people, for a 30 room motel. Overkill to be sure, but it kept the place spotless and that’s why everyone returns every year. Not a bit of dirt or dust anywhere. (ps despite my criticisms, the rooms are still spotless as of our last motel stay). Payroll; another huge expense.
Twice a year, they had a sausage roast for the guests, free of charge, along with a live band poolside. Not too expensive, but it costs a lot more then bathroom soap. And it was wonderful.
Now, how soon might it be before they cut the more expensive services? Hopefully never. AndI hope the new owners prove me wrong. But If you spend your time worrying about nickels and dimes, dollars are sure to follow. And it’s a shame really, because this was a very nice place to stay over the years.
On to the service aspect…..
Before I get into this, I'll give credit where the credit is due. The bathrooms and rooms are still spotless, as of our last stay this season and the place is in good physical repair.
Now, I mean this in the nicest way possible but the new owner has a lot to learn about running a motel. It seems like he doesn’t have the know-how. When I initially called to book the room, I was kept on hold for 10 minutes. I hung up. If I want service like that, I call my credit card company in India, not a motel in Wildwood, NJ. I got a call back and a voicemail a half hour later from the new owner. It took me 3 phone calls over 3 days to book this motel. That’s the wrong way to handle it. Dennis or Grace would have never kept you waiting and they would have had time for a friendly word with you in the meantime. Not this guy. Dennis and Grace understood, a lost call is a lost customer. But 26 years of motel-experience will tell you that. And Dennis and Grace had that experience and I think this young guy lacks it.
When we arrived, if it wasn’t for Grace, our needs wouldn’t have been taken care of. The owner was AWOL. The new owner lives on the premises, along with his extended family, but he wasn’t there. He is there early in the morning, then he leaves (I think to check on another hotel he owns, as I overheard him mention to a customer on the phone he could get them into a cheaper hotel in the Rio Grande area), and then comes back in the evening. Since Dennis and Grace sold the hotel to retire, I don’t expect she will be there much longer, and I think that the new owner will be overwhelmed when she departs, as he is clearly overwhelmed when she is there helping him.
During our stay, Tim, who is the son (there is a wife, two kids and a grandfather on the premises), was friendly and cordial, but he brushed off our concerns one evening when two droopy-panted thugs from Philly were publicly urinating ala testacoli exposed in front of the hotel, on their own car! I called to complain to him and he told us it wasn’t his responsibility to call the police because it wasn’t on hotel property (it was a literally a foot away from it) and could we please call the police for him. I was shocked. Again, the Dennis and Grace standard applies here. This would not have been their response at all. Dennis, an x-police sarge himself, would have handled it. Instead, I was left to call 911 from the hotel in room phone. The cops came and got rid of the thugz, thanks to me. But I should never have had to do that to begin with.
With D&G, there used to be 50’s music coming out of the system around the pool. Now its modern garbage. Not cool. I come to Wildwood for the 1950’s experience, not to hear P Diddy and 50 cents. I hear that garbage in NYC year round and desire to escape that when I come here. We also noticed minor debris around the pool during our stay. Again, the D&G standard applies. They were always keeping the place spotless. It wasn’t a huge difference, but again, I think it doesn’t bode well for the new standards the owners hold.
Additionally, the owners kids were swimming in the pool and made you feel like you were intruding - kinda like you were in their home. I understand they all live there, and it is their home, but there should be a level of understanding that guests are to be treated nicely by family, if the family is in the guest public spaces. His wife came out at one point to address the kids, didn’t acknowledge any of the guests at the pool, looked right over us and talked to her kids, then walked away. Again, the D&G standard applies. We are part of a family of guests that got used to being treated a certain way. And when that changes, those guests, like us, do not come back again but instead search for that friendly experience somewhere else.
It is worth noting that the motel is centrally located - right across the convention center on the boardwalk, but you have to walk past a few flea bag motels to get to the boardwalk. I've never had a problem with that, but just saying, the presence is there a block away. Despite that, you can't beat the location if you want to be close to the amusements but are also just far enough away, that you can only hear a light din of the noise coming from the screams of those on the thrill-rides on the piers.
Our family has enjoyed this wonderful motel over the years. It is with a heavy heart that we have decided not to return. But my personal experience with new owners and my understanding of the subtle signs of change, has led us to decide to stay elsewhere next year. I wish the new owners success and good luck and I hope they can learn to meet the high standards of service that Dennis and Grace set over the 26 years they owned and operated the motel.