by Gale Horton Gay
It doesn’t get much better than this.
After a marathon afternoon of bargain shopping at Delaware’s trifecta of outlet centers in Rehoboth Beach, I am having the kinks worked out of my shoulders, back and neck by a masseuse goddess at the Bellmoor Inn and Spa.
For a moment my mind drifts to a few of the places I have yet to visit—the specialty boutiques, the liquor outlet stores and the beach—but all I can really focus on now is how good it feels to have my muscles slathered with aromatic oils and lotions and then tugged, pulled and squeezed. This is nirvana, for sure.
Rehoboth Beach certainly has three essential ingredients for a perfect girls’ getaway: an abundance of shopping venues, boutique hotels that specialize in making guests feel ultra special and plenty of dining options. Oh, and Delaware has an added bonus that’s hard to find most anywhere—tax-free shopping (year-round and on everything).
October to March, when the crowds dissipate, is an ideal time to slip away for some indulgent therapy—be it retail or of the spa variety. Traffic along Rehoboth Avenue—the center of town—can be a true nightmare during spring and summer when crowds are drawn to the wonderful beaches, quaint shops and restaurants. However, life is so laid back at this time of year that the town covers parking meters and lets visitors park for free wherever they choose.
What makes the outlet shopping here so enjoyable is that it is broken up into three Tanger Outlet centers located within a two-mile stretch on Route 1. It seems that practically every major brand has an outlet shop in Rehoboth Beach. Between the Bayside, Seaside and Midway outlet centers, there are more than 130 stores offering apparel, accessories, footwear, housewares, food and other specialty items. Among the popular retailers: White House Black Market, Talbots, Hanes, Perfumania, Polo Ralph Lauren, Old Navy, Lucky Brand Jeans, Black and Decker, Juicy Couture, Jones New York, Corningware, Carter’s, Escada, Timberland, Kenneth Cole, Coach, Icing and more. Most of the stores I visited were true outlets with deep discounts, but a few were more in line with what one would find at the mall.
Be sure to stop at any of the center’s visitor’s service centers where shoppers can get a Tanger Outlet coupon book loaded with more than $1,100 in savings. The books sell for $5, but are free to those who have a valid AAA card.
The combination of outlet pricing, variety of shops and merchandise, and no sales tax made this a fantastic shopping experience for me and my 19-year-old daughter.
Bellmoor Inn & Spa
The bronze Conde Nast “Recommended” plaque at the front entrance of the Bellmoor Inn and Spa is the first indication that the folks here know a little something about how to make guests feel their needs and desires are priority one. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the library adjacent to the lobby to read and before I was fully settled the desk clerk inquired if I wanted a fire in the fireplace. Had he read my mind? A fire was exactly what would make this cozy space even cozier.
The library, loaded with books, current newspapers and magazines, is just one of several spaces on the first floor where guests can unwind. There’s also another sitting room with a fireplace, a courtyard and a lovely sunroom. The full-service day spa, an indoor hot tub and pool and small fitness center are located on the second floor.
Other touches that make the Bellmoor experience unique include mid-afternoon tea with fresh-baked miniature pastries and a breakfast buffet each morning with hot and cold items. Both are complimentary.
The 56 rooms and 22 suites (12 different arrangements) are roomy and elegantly appointed. Rates range from $119 to $659 per night.
The Bellmoor Inn (www.thebellmoor.com) is located at 6 Christian St.
Good Eats & More
Having visited Rehoboth Beach during the high season, it was an absolute pleasure to stroll Rehoboth Avenue with just a few cars in sight and walk into any restaurant with no reservation and no delay in securing a table. While many of the boutiques, candy shops and eateries along Rehoboth Avenue are closed for the season, enough remain open to please most palates and desire to shop local.
We opted for casual dining during our three-day stay and had the best meal of our trip at Fin’s Fish House and Raw Bar (www.finsrawbar.com) at 243 Rehoboth Ave. Fin’s offers a wide selection of seafood (oyster and clam specialties, cioppino, crab cakes, fish and chips, pistachio crusted barramundi) at reasonable prices. They even have a separate oyster menu, which describes the six types of oysters they serve. According to the menu, the Mayflower Point oyster is “medium salt, crisp clean and sweet finish” while the Peter Point oyster is “full meats, robust, high salinity.”
We sated ourselves on their filling and flavorful seafood potato skins ($9.99) and a generous crab cake sandwich ($13.99).
With our bellies full, our spirits refreshed and our trunk stuffed with shopping bags, it was time to leave Rehoboth Beach and go home. No problem, we knew we would be back.
For more information on Rehoboth Beach, visit www.visitdelaware.com and www.beach-fun.com.