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“Second tiem around”
Review of Villa Park House

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Villa Park House
Ranked #2 of 7 Spring Lake B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 12, 2007

This is our second time at the Villa Park house . We enjoy it very much . The breakfast is great. They are kid frendly. They are near a commuter train if you are sensitive to noise. My family of four slept like babies ( including are own). We recommend the Villa Park house tiem and time again. Spring Lake is a wonderful place.

Stayed: August 2007
2  Thank kola045
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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103 - 107 of 107 reviews

Reviewed August 28, 2006

We stayed at the Villa Park House in Spring Lake for a weekend in August 2006 and had a wonderful time. The owners are exceptionally friendly and helpful -- they learn their guests' names and make a big effort to make everyone -- parents and children alike -- feel welcome. From the moment you walk in the door, you feel like family. The house itself is well-maintained and comfortable -- it is a beautiful old painted lady, and we saw more than one passerby pause to admire the house. The house has central air and a great wrap-around front porch where you can sit and have your breakfast or just relax in your rocking chair and watch the world go by. The beach is a short walk from the house, and beach badges, beach chairs, umbrellas and the like are all furnished for guest use. The breakfast, which is cooked to order and changes daily, lives up to its reputation as one of the best in Spring Lake. The house is not far from from the train tracks -- this is a big hit with small children -- my son was enthralled every time the train went by. The Villa Park House is one of the few B&Bs in Spring Lake that welcomes children and families -- and is a great choice for a family trip to the Jersey shore.

  • Stayed: August 2006, traveled with family
    • Value
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2  Thank NJ_Traveller2006
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
New Jersey
Reviewed June 1, 2006

We returned home to northern New Jersey earlier this week feeling relaxed and content after a 3-day Memorial Day holiday weekend stay at the unforgettable Villa Park House in beautiful Spring Lake, New Jersey. Being a New Jersey native and lover of the Jersey shore, I have stayed at many B&Bs and hotels along our state coast, but never have I experienced such a wonderful time as I did at the Villa Park House.

Our experience began in the B&B parking lot behind the dignified Victorian mansion, when we pulled up in our car with two sleeping children at 10:00 p.m., much later than expected. Matthew Schmid, the proprietor, was there to greet us with a warm smile, help us upstairs to the second floor with our luggage, set up a pack'n'play crib for our seven-month-old baby and a twin-sized cot for our almost-four-year-old son. Matthew chatted with us and interacted with our now-awake baby who adored the attention with many hearty chuckles.

Matthew informed us that breakfast was scheduled from 8:30-10:30 a.m., which we found to be a great time and not too early like at many other B&Bs. And from 7:00 a.m. onward, he said, hot coffee and newspapers would be available for a sit on the wrap-around porch. We looked forward to the breakfast, having read it was the best B&B breakfast in the Northeast, as voted by Arrington's Bed and Breakfast Journal, 2006.

We settled into a plush king-sized bed overflowing with ultra-cozy pillows. Our son fell to sleep comfortably on the cot and our baby in the pack'n'play immediately. A perfectly cool night for the having the windows open, we slept with ceiling fan swirling above us, circulating the fresh ocean air. Even with the two additional beds there was plenty of space for us in the standard guest room.

We awoke to the robust aromas of what we anticipated to be a big, nourishing breakfast to begin our beach day. We were not disappointed with our lovely breakfast at the long, dark wood table suitable for a large group. Our family of four was joined by another family of the same size and a family of three. We could have enjoyed breakfast outside on the ample patio furniture but we felt more like family just a few feet from the kitchen.

We delighted in the help yourself options first: the coffee-maker's tasty morning brew, a succulent bowl of fresh fruit cubes of mango, canteloupe and kiwi, along with fresh juices, and a breakfast cake of the day, laid out on buffet tables.

Our waitress soon emerged from the swinging kitchen door to greet our party of 11 in the dining room and relayed the specials of the day: specialty omelets and wraps with an array of fillings; fruit, yogurt and granola cup; waffles and maple syrup; and eggs any style with bacon or sausage. There were more options and customizing involved, but I forget each detail. I remember, however, that the omelet was the BEST I have ever eaten, frothy and fluffy without losing the eggy taste, almost in a fajita style wrap protectively surrounding the tasty inner ingredients, instead of the standard half-moon omelet I am accustomed to. I was so satisfied with the breakfast that I desired nothing more. Or almost nothing. I then turned behind me and was reminded of the fresh fruit cubes in various bowls on the buffet and I created mix of high-end and wonderfully fresh fruit for myself, again. If fruit is available at a B&B breakfast in my experience, it is usually a fruit medley including apples, pears, oranges and other standard fruit, occasionally berries. But this was a cut way above the usual. Our group agreed, this WAS the best B&B breakfast we had tasted.

We also discovered that the two other families at our table had stayed at the Villa Park House before. On one occasion, they had rented out the entire B&B and had a number of friends and family celebrate together during a March weekend. Matthew had prepared a special, gourmet dinner for them one night for a per-person price accommodating their budget. We had so much fun with the friendly guests that we knew we had made a special connection there at the table.

Some of the guests then departed on the B&B's bicycles to do a tour of the boardwarlk in Spring Lake and nearby Belmar. The remaining guests including children enjoyed coffee, juice or water on the picture-perfect Victorian porch. I sensed when I had entered the B&B the evening before for the first time that this was a home filled with caring people. The Schmid family, we all agreed, was that kind of family. They accommodated our every need, which I must admit were few, with such enthusiasm I did not feel as though I were burdening them as you sometimes feel with B&B innkeepers who claim to be friendly and tending-types but really are not people persons. The Schmid family truly love people and that is why they are in the B&B business.

A bit about the Schmids that I picked up from speaking with them and by reading their web site (click on the icon "About Us"). Matthew, formerly the director of banquet service at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City among other top facilities such as the "W" hotel, is also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, hence the gourmet breakfast options. His wife Dara Schmid (Brown), just as helpful and caring as Matthew, is not only busy with her B&B duties, Monday through Friday she is anchor and producer at MSNBC.com and an anchor for MSNBC and CNBC-TV. You will recognize her face once you see her, although she is decidely casual and make-up free on the weekends, wearing rimless glasses and her hair up. Maybe you also saw her onstage as "Annie" on Broadway during the late 70s through early 80s run. Near the coffee machine is a copy of her caricature that hangs on the distinguished walls of Sardi's restaurant, but that is the only indicator that we are among a highly-regarded newswoman and former child actor. The Schmid's are a gorgeous and talented couple, yet unassuming, with an adorable and charming little 2 1/2-year-old son. (Can you imagine the genes he inherited?)

We head to the beach with complimentary B&B beach towels and badges. We could have opted to bring also a beach umbrella and chairs but decided to keep it simple. The walk to the beach was delightful, passing Spring Lake's charming and meticulously-kept homes along Ocean Road, then Pennsylvania Road to Ocean Avenue and the boardwalk. Without children the walk to the beach takes seven minutes, with children the walk takes 10 to 15 minutes, or, as many guests opted, you can drive and find parking very close to the beach. We could not keep the badges on check-out day, we paid for eight-dollar day badges at a little wooden shack close to the South Pavilion along the boardwalk.

After a day of sun and fun, we were eager to "go home" to the Villa Park House. Sitting on the porch when we arrived were several guests. We exchanged stories of our day, and decided the next day we would leave for the beach as a group, sit together in the sand, and watch our children play.

We showered and came downstairs to head out for dinner. Being the last-minute types that we are, my husband and I asked Matthew if he recommended a local fish restaurant for children that we had in mind. He said absolutely but cautioned us that it might be a wait. So he called the restaurant and spoke to the maitre d' who put our names on top of the waiting list. Wow, glad we asked Matthew for some advice because without his help we would have easily waited an hour for seating on a busy holiday weekend but instead ended up with a 20-minute wait. Short waits are essential with small children!

The next morning was another grand slam with a gorgeous breakfast. My husband and I opted for a salmon and capers wrap (out of this world), my son had a homemade bacon, egg and cheese muffin and we all enjoyed the fresh array of fruits and a poppy-seed cake. I noticed that many of the other guests had tastes for options not on the menu of the day or for something on one of the buffets. The waitresses were happy to accommodate hot water for tea, apple juice for the kids, special liquid sweeteners, and eggs, toast and breakfast meat any style. Our jovial group entertained each other with stories and good humor and then headed out to the beach together. What a memorable day. I felt as if I knew this group all my life and I had just met them the day before. When I told Dara my feelings about the friendliness of the other guests, she said it happens all the time at the Villa Park. At the end of the weekend, guests who hit it off exchange information and arrange to meet again at the B&B for another weekend. Or groups at breakfast have so much fun together that they make plans to go out for dinner that evening. That's what happened with us, we all would like to meet for another weekend together. I told her I always try to talk with and meet other people at B&Bs, people who similarly are seeking a warm, home-like atmosphere for their vacation lodging, but for some reason people I'd met hadn't really engaged before at other B&Bs. Perhaps I had chosen too many of the so-called "best" B&Bs where people were more into staying at "The B&B" rather than pursuing a friendly place to connect with people similar to themselves. Or maybe people don't like talking with me, I don't know! But here at the Villa Park, people are meeting and connecting and appreciating delicious food together. It's that kind of B&B. Just plain friendly.

One more thing: the house is decorated with such love from a family who formerly owned the B&B, raised their family, and lived there for 35 years. You can feel the caring atmosphere not only from the Schmids but from the house's interior design, including the beautiful painted stenciling along the upper walls of the rooms. These little details may be overlooked but subconsiously they add to the gracious and affectionate spirit of the house.

My husband, unfortunately, worked most of the weekend and could not join us on the beach except for a few hours the second day. But fortunately, the room had wireless Internet access, and Matthew's fax machine came in handy when my husband was desperate to get out documents that he had proofed and made edits to. Even though he was working, my husband felt like it was the best setting he could have chosen for his assignment. There was even Internet access on the porch.

Our last evening at the B&B we were all tired from the active day so we enjoyed pizza and antipasti from a local Italian restaurant and a botte of champagne we brought from home on the porch. Our children enjoyed being outside in the dark in the elegant yet cushy setting. Our special dinner is a memory that we have talked about all week, and I suspect, we will always remember.

There is so much more to say but I have written enough already to give visitors to tripadvisor.com an idea of what they can expect at Villa Park House. Every evening we slept soundly, even when a baby woke up fairly loudly according to her parents at 5:00 a.m. We did not hear a thing. Our bionic-hearing four-year-old said he heard the baby but if he did he did not wake up for long. The rooms were so comfortable, we all slept soundly which is unusual for this family, and felt the rooms were very private and sound-proof.

The Villa Park House is a relaxing, affable, comfortable and gourmet retreat that I recommend wholeheartedly. We plan to return soon with other family members in tow, because we want them to experience the same rejuvenating visit that we did. And, we mustn't forget to book our weekend with our new friends from last weekend.

By the way, I have never written a review of a B&B on this site or anywhere else. I sometimes think after a good B&B stay, oh, I should have written a nice note in the guestbook about the room, or maybe I should post something on a web site, but this time after staying at the Villa Park, I was compelled, yes compelled, to write a review. One of our new friends told me that tripadvisor.com is THE place for reviews, everyone reads them, so that is why I am here. I selfishly hope I did not just let one of America's great lodging secrets out of the bag, but truly this B&B deserves all the accolades it receives.

  • Stayed: May 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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10  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 29, 2006

Just returned from Memorial weekend at The Villa Park House in Spring Lake, NJ. We were B&B skeptics but we are now converts. Matthew Schmidt and his wife Dara are such excellent hosts you check out with throughts of your return visit.
This beautiful Victorian mansion is full of period furnishings and decor. The rooms are on the small side compared to a hotel, but we did not feel cramped.
There is a variety of room layouts to choose from, including en suite bathrooms or shared hallway bathrooms. We had a top floor suite in which the second room's trundle bed doubled as a nice sitting room by day. The beds are sumptuous with luxurious pilllows ensuring a sound sleep.
Each room has it's own TV and refridgertaor, even if it is the second room of a suite. The rooms are kept spotlessly clean with scented candles filling the hallways. On the top floor, there is a sitting room stocked with books, board games, videos and a few random CDs. Each floor has a good supply of current magazines, and the main floor sports an 88-key digital piano which came in very handy for my daughter who had to practice for an upcoming recital.
The Schmidts provide free beach tags (an $8 value per day for adults), and free use of top quallity bikes. Beach towels are also available upon request, as is just about anything else you may need.
The crowning glory of the Villa Park is undoubtedly the breakfast. If you're thinking Continental or a few flat pancakes, think again. Owner Matthw is a former world-class chef. We couldn't wait to sit at the table each morning to see what menu he had planned. In addition to any-style eggs, the daily menu changes to include things like crab & capers with scrambled eggs inside a wrap, mushroom omelettes, or blueberry pancakes.
Fresh fruit and beverages are always available. Breakfast at the Villa Park is unparalleled, but it's not just the food.
The service is impeccable and you have a choice of dining at the grand oak dining table or oustide at cafe tables on the porch.
The walk to the beach or to the Spring Lake shopping district is not for the faint of heart, but for those in reasonable shape it is a beautiful area for walking.
There is a NJ Transit train that runs close by the house about every hour. It runs less frequently at night, but if your windows are open you should be prepared for the sound.
The Schmidts also have a relationship with many area restarants and can assure the best seat in the house if you let them make the reservations for you.
Best feature of all about the Villa Park House: It is 100% child-friendly.

  • Stayed: May 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank Londonjack
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
New York
Reviewed December 28, 2005

Our family (we took four rooms) were to stay one night for a wedding in the area. Once we checked in and saw the house decorated for the holidays we decided to stay an extra night. Matthew is a wonderful host. Once we learned that he came from the Waldorf, it all made sense.

  • Stayed: December 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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3  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Villa Park House

Address: 417 Ocean Rd, Spring Lake, NJ 07762-1027
Location: United States > New Jersey > Jersey Shore > Spring Lake
Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 7 B&Bs / Inns in Spring Lake
Price Range: $194 - $196 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Villa Park House 3*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Villa Park House is one of the few Spring Lake bed and breakfasts that welcomes families with children and pets, making it a wonderful family friendly alternative to hotel lodging.The Villa Park House is a grand, Victorian era home that has been a welcomed retreat for visitors since 1886. Villa Park Farm was one of four farms that has made up what is now known as Spring Lake. Our historic bed and breakfast was originally built as a guest house to accommodate the friends of Villa Park Farm's owner. Villa Park House has been the choice for many wanting to relax and rejuvenate near the Atlantic Ocean. Linda and Peter Foy, former owners of Ashling Cottage Bed and Breakfast, rated #1 in Spring Lake, are pleased to announce the purchase of Villa Park House. The renovations that are being made will help to reach our goal of providing Villa Park House guests an impeccably clean and comfortable room, a hot and hearty breakfast, and enjoyable common grounds. Please watch for the exciting changes to appear on our web site in the near future, and then pay us a visit to experience a step back in time in an amazing Victorian town called Spring Lake. ... more   less 

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