Home Away From Home
The resort town of Ocean City, Md has been built as much on family traditions as it has on grains of sand. Whether you grew up at the beach, have vacationed in OCMD since you were a kid, worked summer jobs here during your 20s, or just came for a day trip years ago, if you have spent time in Ocean City, you have surely have memories and traditions you are proud to call your own.
For Lori Weitzman, the formation of her family’s Ocean City tradition came to fruition by accident years ago, yet still remains one of the most anticipated events of the entire year, to this day.
Lori and the Weitzmans first ventured south from their Staten Island home for an Ocean City vacation in 1995. Initially attracted to Ocean City’s affordability, compared to the much closer Jersey Shore, the Weitzmans were quickly hooked on OC’s family friendly atmosphere. Wanting her city children to fully experience the beach, and form fond memories of summers along the shore, Lori knew right away her family’s inaugural trip to Ocean City would not be its last.
The Weitzmans returned the next few summers, staying all over town, but never finding a spot to call their own. In 2001, however, Lori put off vacation planning until the last minute and, by the time she tried booking accommodations on the eve of the July trip, every place she called was full. Determined not to miss a summer at the beach, Lori continued her vacation search and, ultimately, came across a new hotel being built along the Boardwalk, called the “Stowaway Grand.” At the time, the enormous resort was still under construction, the interior had yet to be finished, and many rooms remained unfurnished, but the owners of the hotel needed capital to help finish the project and began accepting reservations before completion.
Out of options, but attracted to the convenient location directly along the boards and yards from the beach, Lori decided to take a chance on the newest member of Ocean City’s hotel family. Little did she know at the time that this half-finished hotel would soon become her family’s home away from home at the beach.
Upon arrival on 21st St, at what would eventually become the Grand Hotel & Spa, Lori’s uneasiness about staying at a brand new place was put at easy by the large fountain in front of the resort and the gorgeous lobby greeting visitors. These impressive visual features were symbolic of the hotel’s commitment to quality and created a great first impression that still sticks with Lori after all these years.
The beautiful aesthetics notwithstanding, it’s what’s on the inside that really made Lori and her family happy to be some of the Grand’s first customers- and has kept them coming every summer since. Spacious, smoke-free rooms with clean beds and spotless bathrooms are what you should expect to find, according to Lori. Having stayed in rooms all over the hotel, on nearly every floor, she would know better than just about anyone. But the Grand offers much more than a clean and quiet place to rest your head at night. There is also a game room, gym, and numerous restaurants and shops on premise to keep guests occupied between sessions on the beach, and the Boardwalk Tram and city bus stops are within a one block walk, making it effortless to get transportation to events and attractions in any part of town.
Location and convenience are certainly important, but the main attribute that impressed Lori and her family about the Grand from the get-go was the impeccable customer service. In 2001, when the hotel remained largely incomplete, the Grand’s amazing staff went out of its way to give the Weitzmans an experience they will never forget. Lori, who makes it a point to be on a first name basis with managers, housekeepers, food servers, and other Grand Hotel employees, has seen lots of staff come and go over the years, but the core values and spot on service has never digressed from the first stay.
The Grand Hotel is much different now than it was during that first stay for Lori and her family, having gone from the new place on the block to one of the most iconic Ocean City hotels. Recently, the Grand’s visual appearance has been enhanced by updates and improvements, especially to its pool area. The hotel has added private cabanas and new Adirondack chairs to give guests a great environment to relax in as they soak up rays, sip drinks, or listen to the sounds of live music.
It’s safe to say the Weitzmans have come of age along with their favorite vacation spot. But Lori has not only seen the Grand grow over the years, she also fondly recalls memories of relaxing on the balconies of her hotel rooms, watching the rest of Ocean City get bigger as well.
Much has changed about the Grand, and Ocean City as a whole, since 2001, but the Weitzmans annual trip is as certain as July 4th fireworks. Thirteen years after its first stay at the Grand, the entire family still makes the trip south each summer, which now lasts 2 weeks instead of one. If you’re like the Weitzmans and want a clean bed, convenient location, and exceptional service while on vacation in Ocean City, do yourself a favor and stay at their home away from home. They will be more than happy to share it with you.