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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Beaches: Seas the day

Courtesy Inn at Spanish Head

Beach resorts on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts are casual, restful places to do business. When work is done, there’s time for a solitary walk along the shoreline or for spirited fun around beach bonfires.

And because beach resorts also cater to leisure travelers, there’s much to delight families lucky enough to come along.

No matter where they’re located, beach resorts are no longer strictly for leisure travelers. They are places where ideas can ebb and flow, like the waters that define them.

Springmaid Beach Resort
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Springmaid Beach Resort, on the quiet southern end of bustling Myrtle Beach, opened 63 years ago as an economical vacation spot for employees of the Leroy Springs’ textile mills that manufactured Springmaid sheets. Fittingly, a recently completed $7 million renovation of the 492-room resort includes top-of-the-line bedding and linens — Springmaid, of course.

The classy all-white look, flat-panel televisions and complimentary wireless Internet access are a far cry from 1949, when twin foam mattresses topped built-in concrete beds, and the $2-a-night rooms were cleaned by hosing them out.

The resort is in three towers. The 238-room Live Oaks tower is home to a three-story conference center with a 7,800-square-foot exhibit area and three oceanfront ballrooms that can be divided into 23 breakout rooms.

The top floor of the conference center was included in the recent renovation; the other two floors will be redone this winter.

“Many meeting-goers bring their families along,” said Donald Hovis, marketing manager. “While meetings go on in rooms that overlook the ocean, families swim in our pools and lazy rivers and play mini golf.”

Myrtle Beach, known as the golf capital of the country, has 250 courses. “Eight of them are within five miles of this resort, and we arrange tee times,” Hovis said.

Among the resort’s unexpected features is a 1,000-foot-long fishing pier, the longest pier over water along a 60-mile stretch of South Carolina beaches known as the Grand Strand.

With bait and equipment readily available at the pier’s tackle shop, people can fish for Spanish mackerel, pompano and flounder. The pier is also available for private events. Ocean-view decks and huge green lawns are used for barbecues and oyster roasts.


Ocean Place Resort

Long Branch, N.J.
Up the coast in northern New Jersey, Ocean Place Resort’s 17 beachfront acres are dotted with palm trees.

“It’s a bubble of the tropics,” said Lisa Drake, social sales and marketing manager, who confided that the trees are brought in from Florida each May.

United Capital Corp. bought the property in March and has embarked on a $15 million to $20 million upgrade, according to Steve Kronick, the company’s vice president for hotels. “We are gutting and redoing the building. All the meeting space and 254 guest rooms will be redone in stages this fall and winter.”

The resort’s 40,000 square feet of meeting space includes two ballrooms and 38 function rooms. There is a spa and two pools; golf is nearby.

Most of Ocean Place’s guest rooms have views of the ocean and the beach, where clambakes and barbecues often cap a day of meetings.

A signature event is the Beach Bonfire, where cocktails and s’mores are accompanied by crashing waves. It is a rare treat on the Jersey Shore.

“We’re the only ones who are allowed to do that in New Jersey,” Drake said. “We’ve been grandfathered in.”

The beach is also used for team-building events such as night spiker volleyball and beach olympics, which might have participants sculpting sand, cheering for octopus races and whirling hula hoops.

Being near New York City serves the resort well. The Sea Streak Ferry makes 45-minute runs to several locations in downtown Manhattan from a dock 10 minutes away. If time is short, Pier Village, a new upscale shopping and dining area, is a short stroll down the boardwalk.