Berkeley Carteret Hotel
The most famous of Asbury Park's hotels was the Berkeley Carteret, located just across Ocean Avenue from the Convention Center and Paramount Theatre and connected by a second story bridge. Originally built in the 1920's, it was designed as a luxury hotel to serve "all the best people" and it did. In my memory, it was the hotel - convention center combination that hosted many state wide conventions for Lawyers, Doctors, Engineers, Political Parties, given Asbury's midpoint location between north and south New Jersey. A large facility, it had decorous ballrooms and over 250 rooms. After the decay and race riots of the 1970's the hotel fell into disrepair and ruin. It has been rebought and resold and renovated many times. Over $20 million was sunk into the hotel in the mid-1980's and in 1989 the Paramount and the hotel hosted the premiere of Asbury Park native Danny DeVito's film "Throw Momma from the Train". Again in 2007, recently purchased for $34 million, it is undergoing yet another total renovation. Notice on the images the absent windows as the two north wings are gutted.
While built under totally separate ownerships, the Paramount and the Berkeley Carteret have very similar exteriors, quite harmonious. Red brick, with white, copper green, tan, and sky blue was the dominant color scheme for town.
Of interest, during WWII the hotel stayed alive by housing thousand of naval personnel from the British Navy.
This latest renovation, like so many earlier, depends on the revitalization of Asbury Park as a major shore destination. A risky investment, based on history.
Can't Wait To Go Back To The Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park, N.J.
My husband's family used to spend summers at the original Berkeley Carteret in 1940's. He always remembered it as an elegant hotel. Years passed and the hotel and area deteriorated. We had an opportunity to visit Asbury Park recently and decided to stay at The Berkeley. Wow! It was absolutely beautiful. The rooms and bathrooms are new and gorgeous. They offer bagels, juice and coffee in the morning. The staff is friendly and informative. We were surprised at how much they knew about the old hotel and it's surroundings. If anyone is planning a special event their ballrooms are breathtaking! It's also exciting to see how the boardwalk area is being renovated.
We can't wait to make another trip to New Jersey and will only stay at The Berkeley.
Fabulous Guest Rooms & Event Space!
I pulled up to this location and I was very nervous to go inside because of the lack of landscaping. But, my mind suddenly changed after I was greeted by a door-man and noticed the newer decor. I was pleastenly suprised? The front desk staff were very friendly and even gave me local menus and information. I had a quick check-in and smooth elevator ride to my brand new ocean view guest room. The decor was fabulous and reminded me of the Miami and NYC hotels I stay in while on travel or holiday. I had a good night sleep on new beds and clean bathroom. The next day I regersterd at the NJ Marathon tent in Long Branch, NJ and was greeted by a nice young lady at the hotel booth. She gave me maps of the area, discounts on dinner in Asbury, and directions back to the hotel. Overall, I had a great trip, and I would love to go back when its 100% finished. I made reservations for July 4th weekend.
I can't wait to come back
I knew about some of the renovation and work happening in Asbury Park but I was blown away by the Berkeley Hotel. Upon arrival the front desk staff was pleasant and helpful. The bellman greeted us with a smile and carried our luggage to our room. The room was breathtaking. I reserved a king standard room and was happy to find that I had been upgraded to an ocean view room at no charge. There were a few bars in walking distance from the hotel, a restaurant on the boardwalk, and even more shops and restaurants on Cookman Ave. It was a great weekend and I have already made reservations to return.
Don't waste your money
Holiday weekend with availability...beware! Towels were NOT replaced daily, the room was NOT made up after the first nights stay, there were no manuals offering general information on the hotel in room, no coffee maker, controls on AC unit were not operating, electronic KEY card had to be reprogrammed frequently, stoppers in bathroom...sink and shower were not operating
The worst hotel and customer service ever
My fiance and I arrived on March 8, 2008 at 930pm after driving over 6 hours from MA. We checked into our room that overlooked the front parking lot after we were promised an 'ocean view room upgrade'. We walked into the room which was freezing. The window had been left open. We shut it and turned the heat up. We headed to bed at 1130pm(we had to get a few hours sleep for a conference at 6am), that is when the noise started. Tons of kids with coolers and cases of beer in hand started piling into the parking area out front and coming into our hotel to our floor. It was so loud, they were running up and down the halls and banging on the doors. This continued for hours. We tried to call the front desk on two separate occasions, however no one answered. Finally at 330am we had enough and decided to get out of our room and go to our car to get some sleep. As we passed all of the kids in the halls, we went down the elevator and took a look at the front desk clerk who was maybe 18 tops. It seemed he was fine with letting all of the kids in with alcohol and figured they were his friends so we didn't approach the desk and just walked right out to our car and would officially check out after our conference as we were afraid for our saftey as we weren't from the area. Once we were done with the conference, we went back to the hotel completely exhausted and instead of taking advantage of our late check out at 1pm, we checked out at 10am. When the desk clerk asked how our stay was, we told her awful and explained the story. She said I am so sorry and I will take care of it after she swiped my charge card. So the next day I wrote a formal email complaint to the hotel about the stay. Days later I never heard back so I called to talk to a manager. No one was available to talk to me so I asked the desk clerk for the correct email she gave me an alternate address and I emailed that one with my story. I was still being charged the entire amount for the stay and I was not happy about this. Well the charge never appeared on my card. Almost 3 months later on May 27, 2008 the charge appears on my card and I call the hotel to query it. The manager LILY was the rudest person I have ever spoken to. She said there was nothing she can do at this point and it is the American Express' fault because they charged me almost 3 months later, not theirs. I told her about our terrible stay and she said if it was that bad I should have checked out at 330am. I told her we were not from the area, scared for our saftey and she said 'that is not her problem'. I called my credit card and have a dispute in for the charge. They said my card was charged in March, then reversed then charged again a few days ago, so this is definitely a hotel error not theirs but they would take care of it and file a dispute with the hotel. Please tell as many people as possible that this hotel is awful and to not waste their money.
Can't get my money back from my cancellation!!
I belong to a military family and booked a room at Monmouth once I read the reviews for this hotel. I spoke directly to the Berkeley to cancel. Now I have a credit card bill for the day of the race! I cancelled this reservation three months ago! Even the date of the charge (the day of the race instead of the night before) and the rate are both wrong. The customer service treated me like a criminal when I tried to get this problem corrected. Still awaiting an apology while my credit card company tries to tackle the issue!!! DO NOT EVEN MAKE A RESERVATION AT THIS HOTEL!!!! GET A CANCELLATION NUMBER IF YOU CANCEL!!!
Jersey Shore's Tarnished Jewel (With 2008 Update)
"The Glory Years"
In the prime of my younger years in the early 1960's there was Asbury Park and then there was the rest of the world. Living just one block from the north end of the mile long boardwalk, countless days and nights were spent on the crowded boards, the magnificent beach, and in the oceanside bars. The bumper cars and tunnel of love at Palace Amusements, the skeeball games and carousel at the casino, the shows at the Paramount. I recall Joan Baez in the earliest 60's, solo with only her guitar, fleshing out her show with folkie versions of doowop songs after releasing her first album. Riding the circuit. Custards at Kohl's. The memories of a bygone era.
As late as the 1860's, the future Asbury was just a forest fronting a beach. James Bradley, a New York businessman vacationing at the Methodist retreat of nearby Ocean Grove, recognized the potential for a non-religious ocean resort and bought the ocean front property. He named his new town Asbury Park after Francis Asbury, the founder of Methodism in the United States.
Over the years, Asbury became a premier vacation resort with its beautiful beach, numerous posh hotels, and fine restaurants. The boards were lined with arcades, amusement rides, food stands, fortune tellers, and theatres. His original vision, even before one building was constructed, included wide streets and open spaces around the three lakes in the town. Asbury had the second electric trolley system in the US and an advanced for the time sanitary system.
But bad times were to come - as shopping malls and theme parks developed, Asbury began a long decline becoming by the 1980's a drug-infested crime-ridden slum. The boardwalk fell into disrepair, the stalls lining the boardwalk were closed, shuttered, and eventually many were demolished.
Over the last 10 or so years, attempts at rejuvenation and revival have come and gone. Famously, as one mayor stood at one end of the lake proclaiming a new Asbury, the police were dredging the remains of a murder victim from the other end.
Beginning in the late 90's and accelerating, a new influx of residents is trying to change Asbury again. What the city refers euphemistically to as the art community and what real people would simply refer to as the gay population were drawn here by extremely low housing costs, the beach, and the deco environment of the ruined beachfront. A new wave of money is now trying to again change the past. Several new luxurious condominiums have been or will be constructed with prices in excess of $600,000 on the beachfront and in the downtown shopping area. The hulk of the once famous Berkeley Carteret hotel facing the ocean across Ocean Avenue was bought by developers for a pittance - $34 million - and is now gutted and being reconstructed for much more. Trendy restaurants have opened along the downtown shopping area, and a few stalls have actually opened on the boardwalk along with one or two small restaurants. The Convention Center and Paramount Theatre present occasional third rate touring bands. But Asbury has a long way to go regain even a semblance of its former glory.
"Where have my memories gone?"
How bright is the future for Asbury? The circuit is no more as Kingsley and Ocean Avenue have been returned to two-way status and a large cement building disrupts the oval at the north end of town. It doesn't really matter because there is no traffic. Despite designation as an Historic Landmark, the Palace Amusement building was demolished by developers in 2004, the lot now rubbish filled and vacant. The casino and the carousel are in decrepit shape with broken windows and rust. Excepting the Carteret, the luxurious hotels have been demolished or are boarded hulks. Some restaurants are doing well, but many of the trendy restaurants like the Red Fusion sushi bar have come - and gone bankrupt. The luxurious condominiums are selling poorly. The boardwalk and the beach remain nearly deserted. The concert hightlight of the year is Lynyrd Skynyrd - one night only. The trendy bar overlooking the beach from the convention center draws photographers, myself included, but not customers. The "art community" has brought a few upscale stores including some antique and design outlets, but are hardly a draw. Asbury has hope as well as a lot of financial backing and investment, but the future remains cloudly.
But one facet of Asbury Park has not changed - a great beach and a long boardwalk ideal for strolling and jogging. These remain the best hope for revival for the town in my memories.
2008 UPDATE - A lot has happened in Asbury Park in the space of one year. A multimillion dollar real estate development company has bought the rights to develop the two blocks closest to the ocean, promising the city to invest 100 million dollars over three years. Changes are already evident - dilapidated buildings along the boardwalk now contain hurriedly opened stores. Often without signs, most without more than bare walls and old cracked cement floors, these privately owned fast food joints, gift shops, and souvenir stores are being opened so fast that signs are needed telling the construction crews what goes to where. Several vacant lots have been paved for carparks and parking meters have been installed on the blocks closest to the beach. Many older buildings - including supposedly protected heritage sites like the Metropolitan Hotel - have been levelled with the property awaiting development.
But the results are already visible. The beaches are more crowded, the stores and restaurants have actual customers. Joggers and bike riders on the boardwalk are being joined by day trippers who are actually paying to use the beach. The casino, site of the famous merry-go-round, is being cleaned out from 20 years of accumulated debris. Will it all succeed? Only time will tell.
Images of this latest attempt at reincarnating Asbury begin with things to do tip 11.