Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

The former Ocean City Health Club property just south of the Route 90 Bridge went to settlement at the end of last month. The bank-owned property, totaling about two acres of developable land, sold for $1.6 million after originally being listed for $2.25 million back in June of 2012, according to property records.

The site is expected to be transformed beginning this summer into a Marriot Residence Inn & Suites. The eight-story development will feature 128 hotel rooms and 22 suites. A final site plan review before the Ocean City Planning and Zoning Commission is expected in May.

Although it’s a difficult thing to critique, I must admit I like Ocean City’s new “Vacation Day” marketing campaign.

It’s one thing to view these on YouTube, but it’s entirely different to gauge when you actually see these on television amid other commercials. I can recall being disappointed when I first saw the “More Fun Here” stick figure campaign come across the television years ago while in an Exton, Pa. hotel room. Oddly enough, it was followed by a Williamsburg, Va. commercial that touted its history, landmarks and affordable vacation packages. I remember thinking there was nothing in the Ocean City commercial that I found appealing and couldn’t help but wonder why beautiful beach and ocean scenery photos were not featured heavily.

When the latest commercial was aired during the Orioles opener this week, I had an entirely different opinion. It’s a sharp campaign and it rightly so targets a growing demographic of professionals who do not utilize their “vacation days” for an actual vacation.

According to a national survey of 1,500 adults, results of which were included in a media release from MGH, the town’s contracted marketing firm, 43 percent of respondents rolled their vacation days over to the next year; 16 percent lost their unused vacation days; and only 44 percent have utilized all their vacation days each year.

It’s a smart campaign aimed at busy professionals with families, and I like that Rodney the lifeguard is not the centerpiece anymore.

It’s difficult to imagine the Holiday Inn on 66th Street without Reflections Restaurant anchoring it.

Nonetheless, I understand the Harrison Group’s decision to outsource the food and beverage operation inside the hotel. The culinary landscape in Ocean City has changed tremendously over the last three decades since Reflections first began operating, and the shift away from fine dining will likely turn out to be a wise move.

I have always viewed Reflections as the original fine dining place in Ocean City. I have eaten there five times I’m guessing over the years, most recently two Valentine’s Days ago. I can’t recall ever being disappointed and always enjoyed the ambiance inside and the tableside flambé was a must.

Reflections will be replaced by Delaware-known Touch of Italy, which comes to Ocean City with much acclaim and high regard. In this week’s story, co-owner Bobby Cipretti said, “We are focused on family. Our traditional Sunday night Italian dinner is important to us, and it is important kids and families can come to Touch of Italy more than once a week or on a special occasion. We should be a staple, and our price points will enable that.”

It’s bittersweet feeling to see Reflections close down, but there is no question excitement abounds for the new operation, which expects to be up and running by summer after some extensive interior renovations.

It was sad to hear of Patty Skinker’s death last week. The former Ocean City resident had courageously battled cancer for the last three years.

I was neighbors with Patty for a number of years along Edgewater Avenue in Ocean City. I got to know her quite well over that time. Previously, she had worked in the sales department of this newspaper about 25 years ago.

As anyone who knew her can attest, Patty was an enthusiastic person. She was also blunt, a trait I admired. One morning around 5, on my way to work, I saw her walking her dog along Edgewater Avenue and she waved for me to pull over my car. She chewed me out a little bit, asking me how old I was (22 years old at the time) and why in the hell I was going to work so early and why I was working so much. She encouraged me not to let the work eat me alive and change me, like it did others she had seen in my industry over the years. That was a conversation I recall vividly.

I still went to work that morning and didn’t get home till after 8 that night, but I did and still do keep her words of advice in mind over the years.