It only gets better with age.
Just like a fine wine, certain special hotels in Ocean City only improve with each passing year. 2018 might be the best year yet to stay at Ocean 1 Hotel & Suites, a motel-turned-hotel located right in the heart of Ocean City, that proves the old “better with age” adage to be totally true.
If you visited Ocean City anytime between the 70s and the early ’00s, you might remember it as the Haven Motel. The motel, which featured 40 rooms and a wrap-around porch, was torn down and rebuilt sometime around 2003. When owner Franco Fidanza took over four years ago, he officially changed the hotel’s name.
“The name [Haven] didn’t really mean much,” Fidanza said. “Ocean City needs a spark of — you’re on the beach, you need sunshine, you need ocean and you need water. I felt the name just needed to change with the times.”
And so, over the span of the decade, the entire building and its name changed with the times. Now the recently-dubbed Ocean 1 is managed by Real Hospitality Group, and everyone working in the hotel’s line of duty — that is, at the front desk — agrees that the past year has been a sort of turning point for the hotel. It’s due in part, they say, to General Manager DeVanna Young.
Any hotel is only as good as its employees
“The most changes I’ve seen here have been with DeVanna,” said Mary Anne Weir, who’s worked at the front desk for the last six years. “We did the lobby up with the furniture and everything, she really dressed it up.”
In addition to a dressed-up lobby, this year the hotel also received brand-new mattresses and flat-screen TVs.
“We’ve made a big impact here in the last year, just trying to push our reviews, really trying to renovate and make some changes,” Young said. “We’re really starting to invest in this place.”
But to Weir, what makes a decent hotel is more than its bells and whistles. “It’s like a family here,” she said, referring to both the employees — the year-round staff like Young and Weir and the J1 students who come to work at the hotel every summer — and the guests.
“It’s homey, and we have a lot of guests that say they feel like they’re coming home,” she said. “We get a lot of repeat guests.”
Marko Glusac, a J1 student from Serbia who’s spending his summer behind the front desk, echoed Weir’s sentiments.
“We all work here really well together,” he said. “Everything is functioning as it should and customers are really happy.”
Every room is a room with a view
Of course, more than anything else, the biggest draw of Ocean 1 is its prime location and the views from its guest rooms and condo units.
The hotel puts guests right in the heart of Ocean City: stand on the balcony, look straight ahead and there’s the ocean. Look to the right and there’s a perfect view of the Jolly Roger ferris wheel and the slingshot, and the smell of fresh funnel cakes and gyros wafts from the Golden Plate Sub Shop next door.
To the left, families come rolling down the Boardwalk on surreys, and artists carve intricate sculptures in the sand. If there’s anywhere that perfectly encapsulates the summertime vibes of Ocean City, Maryland, it’s up on a balcony on 1st Street.
“We have a great location but at a great rate, definitely,” Young said.
Til the end of the season, guests who book directly with the hotel can save 10% by using the code online or by booking over the phone and mentioning the Book Direct and Save discount.