‘Think of us as a beach house…with 84 bedrooms’ is the motto that the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel touts, and with an incredibly charming interior, a welcoming staff, and sweeping views of Rehoboth’s renowned beaches, it’s safe to say they have proven their claim with due diligence. We took our first trip to the Victorian-style hotel in Rehoboth this past week, and just in time for the holidays. To say they exude Christmas spirit at the hotel would be an understatement, as our photos show, the staff decks the halls and then some, providing the perfect infusion of holiday magic into your stay, whether it’s for the whole weekend or for dinner and drinks at the on-site restaurant. We settled comfortably in for a chat with the hotel’s Director of Marketing, Jennifer Zerby, to learn more about the hotel’s history, the on-site amenities, and the evolution of Rehoboth Beach as a premiere tourist destination.

“We are a family owned and operated business and we have been for 25 years,” explained Zerby, who has worked with husband Jeff and his parents Ruth Ann and Jeff Sr. to build the oceanfront hotel. Maintaining the family business hasn’t always come easily, but with a staff that has become an extended arm of the family, success has triumphed over any pitfalls along the way. “We have a really, really great team, it’s like a family. Five of us have been here 20-plus years,” said Zerby, giving nod to the countless other employees who have been working at the for 5, 10 or 15 years. Currently, the hotel staffs 168 employees full-time, which is something the Zerbys are proud to be able to maintain in a predominantly resort-minded town. ‘We are open 365 days a year and we have always been open 365 days a year. I find that it is such a key thing, especially around here,” said Zerby. Being open year-round also means that their on-site restaurant, Victoria’s, is also open year-round, which provides not only a terrific dining option for guests, but for locals as well. Of course it’s not just the staff that have become like family, the past 25 years of business has garnered an incredibly loyal following of guests. “It’s really neat to see how people who came here with their kids are now coming back with their grandkids – it’s just a lot of fun for us,” said Zerby.

So why a Victorian hotel? “Rehoboth was actually a Victorian beach town, so we wanted to do something along those lines,” said Zerby of the early days of the hotel. The Victorian theme has remained throughout the years, as has the tradition of afternoon tea at Victoria’s. Served every Monday through Saturday between 3pm and 5pm, the menu includes assorted tea sandwiches, scones, sweet and fruits, along with your choice of fine teas. Reservations are required so that guests are ensured the freshest tea and snacks during their tea time. Of course the Victorian-reproduction furnishings and décor also work to make you feel as if you are in a bygone era; however there is plenty of modernity to balance the mix, from the relaxing indoor & outdoor pool, to the free WiFi and flat screen TVs, to the whirlpool bathtubs for two.

Amenities are certainly one of the main selling points of the hotel, as are the wide range of room options available. Rates can range anywhere from $74 to $679, depending on time of year and room selection. With over 12 different room types, accommodations vary from standard rooms to ocean front suites. There are even three, two-bedroom apartments on site that rent out by the week in the summertime. For adults traveling without children (and wishing to maintain a relatively kid-free experience) there is also the concierge level to consider. The keyed-access level offers accommodations with a few genteel extras like evening turn-down service, the daily newspaper, morning coffee in the garden, a later checkout time, and use of the private rooftop sundeck and spa.

For amenities, we were big fans of the FULL room service that is available to all guests, as well as the heated indoor-outdoor soaking pool that is available for the entire family during daytime hours and for adults-only in the evening hours. Dining options include breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Victoria’s, along with light fare and cocktails at the Plaza Pub. The oceanfront lounge is outfitted with a cozy walnut bar and inviting leather chairs. Victoria’s three-tiered dining room offers expansive beach views from just about any seat in the restaurant. While Sunday Brunch was served buffet-style for the past 23 years, the recent change to a la carte brunch has been widely popular so far. The team also added an on-site coffee shop, which provides guests (and non-guests) with a quick option for grabbing a coffee and a small breakfast. “We were noticing that a lot of people did not want to sit down for a full breakfast,” explained Zerby. Of course as owners of nearby The Point Coffee House, adding an on-site coffee shop was a smooth transition.

Off-premises, Rehoboth and the surrounding area has grown exponentially since the hotel’s inception. “One of the neatest things has been the growth of the dining scene in Rehoboth,” said Zerby, citing the area’s rising nickname, ‘the culinary coast’. “Cultural tourism has grown as well. In general, the watersports in our area have evolved and people are coming here specifically to enjoy that.” Of course the gorgeous beaches, the cultural events, the tax-free shopping, and the close proximity to other coastal towns also serve to enhance the experience for hotel guests. Zerby was also quick to note that what was once a seasonal town has steadily turned into a year-round destination thanks to the events held throughout the year. Events like the Polar Bear Plunge in the winter and the Sea Witch in the fall keep visitors interested in Rehoboth and the hotel even when summer comes to an end.

When asked what her favorite aspect of the hotel business has been, Zerby concluded that the answer was in fact two-fold. On the one hand, there are the relationships that get built with the customer, but there is also the team that Zerby gets to work with day in and day out, which includes her husband. “I get to meet and work with really wonderful people and most of the time, I really get to see the best part of people. To get to be a part of creating joy for people…it’s an honor to be a part of people’s life events.”

For more on the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel or Victoria’s Restaurant, take a scroll through our photo gallery or visit their website at boardwalkplaza.com. We were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of the hotel during the holiday season and it was absolutely stunning. As Zerby noted, their ‘team of elves’ does a phenomenal job each year. Take a look!

Photos by Erica Tyler