Faces both new and familiar greeted guests of the Caribbean, gathered to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend, 2018. Friday saw incredible blue skies and sunshine as couples, families and friends arrived, checked in, and unloaded car trunks packed with everything they’d need to enjoy a weekend of sun, sand and sea. Regular guests, back for the umpteenth year in a row, assumed their accustomed places around the pool, obviously thrilled to be back at this special place that makes them feel so at home. Others, new to the Caribbean and drawn from all over, quickly settled in to their rooms and wasted no time exploring the pristine pool and lounge areas. As usual, they were greeted with smiles by not only the dedicated staff, but also fellow guests who knew intrinsically that these strangers were really friends-to-be.
As the dinner hour approached on this special holiday weekend, co-owner Carolyn made the rounds at every level of the Caribbean, offering warm, tasty chicken taquito appetizers. Before long, the dinner buffet was ready, and guests lined up to share in a delicious Italian-themed meal of rigatoni, fresh ricotta, and garlic bread, with extra homemade tomato sauce – or is it gravy? – at the ready. Several seating options were available; some groups occupied smaller tables, while others availed themselves of the long, festively-decorated family-style seating adjacent to the buffet, and took the opportunity to introduce themselves to and get to know fellow guests. All the while, tunes of the 50’s and 60’s, the soundtrack of Wildwood’s heyday, filled the air, and spontaneous sing-alongs could be counted on to occur every few minutes. The colorful lights turned on at dusk, as Carolyn once again made the rounds, this time offering a selection of mini desserts.
Guests who spent Saturday biking, on the beach, at the boardwalk craft show, taking in the kite festival, or swimming in the Caribbean pool were rewarded with another gastronomic scene later that evening, with chips, salsa and a refreshing dill dip offered to whet the appetite for the barbecue feast to come. Pulled pork, fresh rolls, barbecued chicken, corn and potato salad filled the buffet, and sticky barbecue fingers were wiped clean in time for the beach-ball themed cupcake dessert. All the while, live music filled the air, as cover band Nosey Josey treated revelers to a revue of well-loved oldies but goodies. As dinner was efficiently cleared away, Nosey Josey turned it up a notch, encouraging dancing not only at the Caribbean, but on the street, across the street, and even on the decks of neighboring hotels. The most reluctant to dance couldn’t resist tapping a toe.
Although Sunday’s forecast was less then stellar, skies remained blue and the sun sparkled off the warm waters of the Caribbean’s horseshoe-shaped pool most of the day. Co-owner George credits a deal he made with Mother Nature to ensure his guests good weather during their stays. No one is quite sure what he offered in return, but whatever it was, she seemed satisfied with the bargain. A stack of pizzas was delivered at lunchtime, and everyone was invited to enjoy a wide variety of styles and toppings. New friends, introduced over dinner Friday and Saturday, sought each other out to share good food and good company. Some wandered into the office, curious to see whether there were still vacancies for future weekends. That’s one of the magical things about the Caribbean. Before a stay is over, thoughts of the next one are already beginning to take shape….and they tend toward the shape of a horseshoe pool, a spiral ramp, a grouping of artificial palms and a big blue neon sign atop a wild retro lounge inviting even more social interaction. They are dotted with multi-colored lights, shaded in hues of lime green and yellow, and upholstered in leopard-skin prints.
Memorial Day 2018 is now one for the history books. Some reluctantly checked out on Monday, while others continued settling in for a week of relaxation. One thing is for certain – the goal of every last member of the Caribbean team is to ensure that everyone leaves with a smile on their face, a new friend or two to seek out next time, and a longing to return. Their love for this slice of heaven and history and their desire to share that love is evident in every nook and cranny. A visit to the Caribbean is a trip back in time, an out-of-this-world experience in hospitality, and a chance to make connections with people from all walks of life who enjoy all that it has to offer.
-Annette and Jeff