WHILE IT’S CERTAINLY not the most popular time of year to venture to the Jersey Shore, autumn is, in my opinion, one of the best times to visit the area. Sun-seekers won’t enjoy the beach as much from late September through November, but there’s something about the way the air feels in fall at the beach — it’s cleaner, clearer, crisper somehow, and the ocean breeze offers just the right chill. A mid-October weekend proved the perfect time for my fiancé and me to escape some of the busyness at home with a relaxing weekend in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.
And relax I did, as part of my weekend itinerary included a visit to The Salt Spa at The Reeds, the recently opened spa at the well-known luxury Reeds at Shelter Haven hotel, which enjoys an enviable location right in the heart of Stone Harbor’s shops and restaurants and within walking distance of the beach.
Opened this spring, The Salt Spa at The Reeds debuted alongside 21 new guestrooms in a separate building across the street from the bay-front The Reeds main building. Our guestroom was located in the new building, and immediately upon entering both the spa and the guestroom, we could sense the freshness of the space. There’s not a scuff mark in sight, no tiny hints of disrepair or age. At the same time, it’s not sterile or uninviting. I found the spaces welcoming and exclusive, secluded some from the hubbub of the main, larger building, away from the buzz of the on-site restaurant and bar, but the pair of buildings complement each other in look and feel, both from the exterior and interior. For those of you familiar with Stone Harbor, the new tower stands where Henny’s Restaurant formerly sat.
The full-service spa is certainly a draw; I was stopped on the sidewalk just outside the entrance to take a picture of a couple who selected the spa to celebrate their milestone anniversary. It features a full menu of treatments alongside a Turkish bath, a brine room, a fitness center, a blow-out bar and a nail salon.
After a scrumptious breakfast at the quaint Fishin’ Pier Grille, located across the street from the property, I made my way to The Salt Spa solo to indulge in an 80-minute hot salt stone massage. Given the spa’s moniker and its highly touted brine lounge, it seemed only fitting to select a treatment that incorporated the signature salt. However, deciding on a treatment is difficult, given the spa’s tempting menu of decadent offerings. While I didn’t see the Turkish bath, the photos are truly stunning, and I’m sure the treatments match. Other massages, facials and flotation therapies are also available.
I awaited my therapist in the Brine Light Inhalation Lounge, complimentary with multiple treatments or available for 45 minutes for $50. I relaxed on a cushioned lounger while taking in the benefits of the Himalayan salt cascading over a waterfall. The light therapy and tranquil music also at play in the lounge add to the serenity. It was my second time in as many weeks in a salt cave, and now, looking back and fighting off congested sinuses as colder temperatures creep in, I realize the true benefits of Himalayan salt therapy. For the first time, it felt like my therapist came to call me back for my massage all too quickly.
However, the serenity continued in my treatment room as the masseuse gently kneaded the perfectly warmed hot salt stones into my muscles. Just as she rhythmically worked the stones across my back, I was lulled into a blissful state of semi- consciousness. As she replaced cooling stones with warmer ones, the temperature shock was, in its own way, therapeutic.
I emerged 80 minutes later ready for a perfect autumn afternoon exploring Stone Harbor and nearby Cape May. Other amenities at The Reeds at Shelter Haven include event spaces, five dining outlets and a boutique.
Our fall adventures that weekend took us all over, from a long walk on the Stone Harbor beach and Cape May County Zoo to Quahog’s Seafood Shack and a screening of Joker at a local theater. We sipped wine and watched the sun dip below the horizon from our guestroom deck and stopped at a nearby New Jersey farm stand boasting a bounty of beautiful, colorful autumnal produce that rivaled the colors of the sunset. The Reeds at Shelter Haven proved the perfect base for all of this exploration, relaxation and more. I can’t wait to return, as even in the busier summer months full of the frenzy of beach-going families, The Salt Spa is sure to be an oasis of calm.
If you haven’t started planning for next year’s total solar eclipse viewing, you have some serious work to do. Next year’s total eclipse will only be visible from Antarctica and won’t happen again for 75 years.
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