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The Commander’s got more than a giant beach chair (but they’ve got that, too)

Ready to take a virtual tour of one of the top hotels on the Ocean City Boardwalk? 

That’s coming, but first, a little history lesson on Ocean City’s famous Commander Hotel is in order. Because in addition to their new, giant beach chair (more on that down below), the Commander has a rich and unique history that dates back to the 1930s, and lots of modern amenities today that make it special, too. 

A brief origin story of the Commander

The original Commander opened on Ocean City’s 14th street on Memorial Day of 1930. Today the hotel is almost 88 years old, even if the current Commander building has been reconstructed and remodeled in the decades since its grand opening. 88 years ago, the Commander boasted Ocean City’s first elevator, in-room telephone service and a sweeping front porch overlooking the Boardwalk. The hotel was complete with a full dining room and 62 rooms, and a week’s stay including three meals a day cost just $95. 

When visitors sought haven at the Commander during World War II, the windows would be covered at night by black-out curtains due to the danger of enemy shelling by off-shore submarines. After the war, a North Wing was added to the hotel. The dining room at this point could seat 400 people, and in the 1950s, visitors traveled from all over Maryland and beyond to attend a Commander Clambake complete with lobster, corn-on-the-cob and steamed clams. 

The Commander’s famous Clambakes came to an end after the March Storm of ’62, but from 1979-93, the Commander Boardwalk Cabaret Dinner was one of the hottest shows in town. 

In 1998, the new building was erected and today includes beachfront rooms and suites, an indoor and outdoor pool, a separate cabana with suites overlooking the pool and two on-site restaurant’s — Ocean City traditions Grotto Pizza and Fractured Prune

The Commander history
Of course, you can read that history and more on the hotel’s upstairs timeline mural. “The Commander Hotel is truly a celebration of tradition,” it says.

A look inside 

Now, a virtual tour of the Commander’s interior, before we head outside to the beach and Boardwalk. 

The Commander postcard
Postcards depicting an older iteration of the hotel can be seen on a coffee table in the hotel lobby…
The Commander lobby
…Which, by the way, was just remodeled last year.
The Commander suite
The Commander has oceanfront rooms and suites like this one, recently renovated with beachy colors and comfy beds.
Commander indoor pool
And even though the beach is just down below, you’re also just steps away from the indoor pool.

Commander Fun Fact: They’ve got mermaids. College students dressed in mermaid attire (tails and all) inhabit the Commander’s pool on select summer days. “They swim around in the pool with the little girls and they do a game, and they’ve got a pirate to go with them,” said Marketing & Sales Director Carissa Scaniffe. “It’s really cute, the kids love it.” This and other summer activities for both kids and adults can be found here

A look outside

Of course, you’ll want to save the indoor pool for a rainy day when there’s so much to do outside. 

Commander outdoor pool
Like swim in the outdoor pool. (Pictured here in the off-season.)
Commander shuttle
Or venture all around town in the new Commander shuttle. 
Commander view
Cabana rooms overlook the pool, while rooms in the main building look provide a view of the beach and Boardwalk (which, while peaceful now, will be a lot more interesting with actual people down there!).
Commander beach chair
Then there’s this guy, now the ultimate selfie spot in Ocean City, just outside the hotel on the Boardwalk. Take a seat, take a picture and people watch from this perch.
Commander beach chair
The hotel will be painting their logo on the chair before summer rolls around, but other than that, it’s ready for you to come take a seat. See you this summer!

A windy spring walk on the Boards, just outside the Commander

Kristin is a writer and photographer in Ocean City, Maryland, and is the content manager for OceanCity.com and other State Ventures, LLC sites. She loves getting reader-submitted stories and photos, so send her an email anytime. She also works part-time at the Art League of Ocean City and the Ocean City Film Festival and lives just off the peninsula with her dog and fiancé. Her photos can be found on Instagram @oc_kristin.

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