The Harrison Inn

613 Columbia Avenue, Cape May, New Jersey 08204
Innkeeper(s): Andrew & Kelly Bares

Taking the Plunge 8 Feb 2016, 10:25 am

Why Not Plan a Wonderful Trip Around A Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience!

Most of us plan a trip by deciding where we would like to go, what kind of weather we want, and maybe what sort of activities we would like to do when we get there. We used to. And then we started talking one day about some of the outrageously crazy adventures we’ve had that we didn’t plan while we were on vacation.

We were going to New Zealand to visit Andrew’s family with our 3 kids. On the way to the airport, Jake our 21 year old says “Do you think we can go white water rafting?”   Jake doesn’t ever ask for anything so of course we say “sure, why not”.   A couple of days later, Jake is showing us this website that has photo’s of a rapids class 5, 7 meter (22.9659 feet to be exact) waterfall. Andrew and I say “Wow, that is really beautiful…” until we realize in horror that this is where Jake wants to tryout white water rafting – with us.

We leave lovely Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, and begin our journey through the spectacular countryside. We arrive in Rotorua (don’t expect to be able to pronounce any of the towns here) and it is breathtakingly beautiful. The Whakarewarewa valley has geysers and thermal mud pools, fueled by the area’s geothermal activity and the Pohutu geyser erupts many times every day. We spend the day walking through the valley, and all of us including the kids and Andrew’s parents, end the day luxuriating in the warm thermal mud pools. What could be better? It would be better if we didn’t have to risk our lives in the morning to keep our promise to Jake!

We arrive at Kaitiaki Adventures, since they were the first white water rafting company to get permission to be on the river and they had been taking people rafting since 1999. As we get geared up – wetsuit, paddle, helmet, our guide informs us that we will be navigating the world’s highest commercial waterfall in our little raft. I don’t remember hearing much after that but I believe he went on to tell us that we would be meandering through steep native bush and through 14 awesome rapids with 3 waterfalls.

At this point, I feel compelled to mention that none us have any experience in rafting and maybe we weren’t qualified to be on this adventure. “No, this trip offers it all, for both experienced white water rafters and first timers”.

We get into the van and head to the Kaituna River. We have about 15 minutes of instruction and they are really serious about you taking it seriously. “You will be told to paddle right, and you will all paddle right. You will be told to paddle left, paddle back. When we tell you to get down and grab the raft, you will hold on as tightly as you can.”

We get in the river and it is so breathtakingly beautiful that for a moment you forget why you’re there. We hit our first rapids, “Paddle right. Stop. Paddle left. Stop”. We make it through without flipping the raft and everyone is still on board. We hear this sound and it’s getting louder and louder, and our guide announces that we will be going down the first waterfall. It’s a 2.5 meter fall quickly followed by a 1 meter fall.   Water crashes into your face and it’s cold and exhilarating.

You start to feel as if it will be ok. We stop. Our guide says, “We’re here”. We get final instructions and we go. As the nose of the raft begins to dip your heart starts to race as the sounds and sights are almost too much to process. The plunge is similar to that of a rollercoaster but you have no seatbelt, no shoulder strap, and no brakes. And then there is the water. The raft is engulfed in water, behind this great wall of water. We seem to be upright-ish. Seconds later the raft is literally underwater and you pop out into this lovely pool. And that’s when you realize that you’ve survived Tutea Falls!

It is without question, one of the most frightening and exhilarating experiences of a lifetime. If you are looking for an adventure, you will not be disappointed.

New Zealand has so many amazing natural wonders, beautiful beaches, glaciers, geothermal sites, spectacular cities, sprawling hills and tall mountains. It should be on everyone’s bucket list…but if it’s adventure that you’re looking for, plan your trip to Tutea Falls and go from there.

 

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A Little Bling from Greece 8 Feb 2016, 10:18 am

What could be better than traveling and shopping? This past year, 2015, we were fortunate enough to do a good bit of traveling. Andrew’s brother was getting married in Greece, and then having the equivalent of a Reception back in New Zealand.

Andrew is Greek. Have you seen the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? Well before I digress, that’s a story for the next newsletter.

How to Start a Business in 10 Minutes or Less…

So, we fly into Athens and stay for a day. Then we are off to Crete for the Wedding, Santorini and Mykonos (to make believe we are still 20 something). Everywhere we go, we see these wonderful shops with many hand-made items. Beautiful scarves, clothing, food…and the jewelry, there is more jewelry than I’ve ever seen and the prices are compelling.

On almost every island I am starting to recognize a few pieces of jewelry that I’ve seen before. There were two Greek designers in particular and the pieces were just stunning. I started to obsess about leaving without being able to bring these wonderful pieces back and after torturing Andrew for many hours, we decided to try to make it happen.

It was the last day before we were returning to the US and we were in Athens. With little time to spare, I was frantically running in and out of many shops to find those two designer’s pieces. And there they were…both designers in two different stores and not much time to spare. I am in one store trying to speak in Greek to the designer, a lovely older gentleman who is trying desperately to understand me.   I am yelling for Andrew and he is nowhere to be found. I run downstairs and there he is on the phone. “Hurry we have no time, I found the designer and we can go to the showroom”. On the way to the showroom I am shouting, “Where have you been? I needed you to help translate”. Andrew said, “I was on the phone. I found the other designer and we are meeting with her tomorrow before we get on the plane.”

Five minutes later we are in this wonderful showroom and I’m a kid in a candy shop. There are so many wonderful things to see, try on, and marvel over that I don’t even know where to start. Andrew is excited and is selecting pieces too. We left with a huge bag of very unique and very reasonable pieces.

The next morning, we got up early to meet with Serena. We were so intrigued to hear how she built her business from a tiny shop to a pretty big production. All of her pieces are hand made and she takes great care to ensure that each piece is of the same quality, look and feel like the first pieces she made herself. She has her treasures in shops in the mainland in Greece and in most of the Greek Islands. She has one woman who sells in Texas and we will be the only other shop in the US that will carry her pieces. We will be bringing this collection to The Shoppe over the next few months.

Gorgeous Greek Jewelry…an Extravagance You Can Afford

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The Shoppe at The Harrison 8 Feb 2016, 10:11 am

Well some of you might know that Andrew and I opened a small shop in The Harrison right before Christmas. We decided we didn’t have enough to do

One of the businesses that we have is a furniture up-cycling business. We were very entrenched until we bought the Inn. We used to bring our wares to the Brooklyn Flea markets to sell. It was really quite fun and we got to meet some real characters and made good friends.

We got hooked on painting and refinishing furniture when we bought our first investment property in the Keys. We were on a tight budget and we needed to furnish the home for rentals. We found out about this wonderful auction in Boonton, NJ called “The Old Feed Mill.” Not only is the whole experience so addictive, but the owners, Jack & Judy are truly two of the nicest people you could ever want to know. And Jack, now that we have some experience, is simply the best auctioneer on the planet!

Since that first auction, Andrew and I have been on a mission to find every great auction within driving distance! We have been to estate auctions, old barns in the country, and we even bought an old barn so that we had terrific barn wood to make tables and cover walls (sort of like Shiplap, you know what that is if you watch my favorite HGTV show).

Anyway, we hunt for really unique decorative items, vintage, antique, sometimes mid-century. We also augment our pieces with new decorative items. Being new at the Flea Market thing was a bit challenging. We were doing all of the lifting, hauling, painting, setting up etc.   We got better at it over time and learned a whole lot. Today, we are selling those items in The Shoppe at The Harrison since we spend quite a bit of time there!

We will be featuring one item in every newsletter and I can’t wait to tell you about this weeks featured item!

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Fun Things To Do in Cape May 25 Jan 2016, 6:22 am

Cape May is the home of five fantastic vineyards that are all within just a short driving distance to The Harrison. Choose between the following wineries, which are open all year round: Cape May Winery, Willow Creek Winery, Natali Winery, Jesse Creek Winery, and Hawk Haven Winery. You can enjoy a tour, and a great tasting at any one of these unique Cape May vineyards.

For our guests staying with us on a Friday evening, one main attraction that may spark your interest are the “Fire Pit Fridays at Willow Creek Winery.”  Every Friday night from 5;30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., the fire pit will be lit outside, the fireplace will be roaring inside and there will be live music by a different local musician ever week.  Drink some great wine and sangria, and enjoy some delicious food from their tapas menu.  It’s always a fun night for all!

The Harrison – Victorian Elegance, Contemporary Luxuries, Outstanding Service.

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It’s Really Hard Not To Think About Sandy Beaches & Palm Trees…. 25 Jan 2016, 6:22 am

As I look out the window of The Harrison waiting for the first big snowfall to begin, I struggle to keep from drifting off into a daydream where I’m sitting on a gorgeous white sand beach basking in the sun. If you haven’t been, now is the perfect time to go to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In February of 2015, Andrew and I wanted to find a wonderful vacation home where we could go to truly unwind. No hustle, no bustle. No traffic, no crazy. The USVI’s are comprised of St. Thomas, St. Croix & St. John, but we were destined to settle on St John.

We searched & searched from the East End of the island to Cruz Bay, from the north shore to the south. We finally landed in the middle… perfect. With a 15-minute drive to the famous Cruz Bay, 10 minutes to the not so touristy Coral Bay and 7 minutes to the world-class beaches, we decided on a delightful property on Ajax Peak. The cottage was small but quite perfect in many ways. The views are spectacular with the best view of Coral Bay along with breathtaking mountain views.

If you would like to stay at our wonderful property please go to: https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p4017387 or call us at 646-342-8020.

Now for the beaches! St. John has some of the most magnificent beaches in the world. From the most popular beaches like Trunk Bay or Hawks nest, to the more secluded beaches like Honeymoon Beach which is only accessible by boat or hiking trail, you will struggle to decide which one to go to first.

We always make it a point to go out with our friends at the Low Key Dive Shop to get in a two-tank dive. There are more than 500 species of fish, 40 types of stunningly beautiful coral, and hundreds of invertebrates inhabit the water. Vibrant blue tang, silvery horse-eye jacks, queen triggerfish, spiny Caribbean lobster, spotted eagle rays, creole wrasses and cleaner gobies are a few of the things you might see.

As the sun sets, octopuses, sea horses and moray eels may surface. Andrew & I have been fortunate to follow a green turtle around his home. He came so close to see us that I think he may have been as curious as we were!

You can also bring your friends that snorkel on these trips. If you like to fish, the USVI’s are world renown for both offshore and inshore fishing. You can stay inshore and catch Snapper, King Fish, Skip Jacks or go for the Big Game and catch Marlin, Dorado, Tuna, & Wahoo.

And if you need real thrill seeking excitement you should definitely meet up with the infamous Surfer Gary. He has the best surfing tips ever…even if you are surfing in front of TV cameras and crew….but that’s a story for the next newsletter!

And now if you’re a history buff…

The first people to inhabit the islands were the Ciboneys followed by the Arawaks, who established sites on St. John & St. Croix around 100 A.D. Next to arrive were the hostile Caribs and then the more peaceful Tainos. Visitors can see the petroglyphs or carvings done by these early inhabitants on St. John’s Reef Bay Trail.

Columbus arrived in 1493 claiming the islands for Spain. The battle that ensued is considered to be the first insurgence in the New World. Columbus then headed north and found a chain of islands he called Las Once Mil Virgenes or 11,000 virgins.

In 1672, the Danes established the first settlement on St. Thomas and expanded into St. John in 1694. St. Croix was added the Danish West India Company in 1733 and plantations sprung up on all of these islands.

The islands were purchased for $25 million in gold by the United States in 1917 and in 1927 citizenship was granted to Virgin Islanders. Today the USVI is a thriving tourist destination with visitors from all over the globe.

Of all of the Virgin Islands, St. John is the most peaceful in part due to the fact that 60% of its land is comprised of a pristine national park. Some of the most spectacular hiking trails can be found here. With over 20 trails for all levels of hikers, you can see salt ponds, birds, ruins, and even petroglyphs.

The Harrison – Victorian Elegance, Contemporary Luxuries, Outstanding Service.

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Hurry, Cupid’s Counting Down! 25 Jan 2016, 6:22 am

As Valentines Day Weekend approaches quickly, The Harrison only has two more rooms available for booking.  If you want to guarantee a romantic weekend getaway, book with us today!

What better way to surprise your significant other, then with a spa package at the Cape May Day Spa, just minutes from The Harrison. There are a number of five star restaurants to choose from throughout Cape May, such as: The Washington Inn, The Ebbitt Room, and the Merion Inn. Or, start your evening off with drinks and cocktails at the Brown Room or a Moonlit Carriage Ride throughout Historic Cape May. We will be happy to offer suggestions and make reservations for you, at your convenience.

We will be providing Valentines surprises in each room, and offering Valentines Day treats during Tea Time, from 3:00-5:00 p.m., that we are sure will get you in the spirit for the romantic holiday.

We are looking forward to making your Valentine’s Day Weekend very special!

The Harrison – Victorian Elegance, Contemporary Luxuries, Outstanding Service.

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Winter Wine Tasting Weekends & A Free Nights Stay! 27 Dec 2015, 11:42 am

We are pleased to announce that The Harrison will be hosting Wine Tasting Weekends every Saturday night during the winter months. Each weekend will feature wines from one of the top wine regions of the world. Along with the wine tasting, we will be offering a selection of wonderful cheeses from that same region.

Did we mention that this would be a Blind Tasting Test? With a wonderful prize to the winner? Each weekend, our guests will get to participate in a Blind Tasteing followed by a short quiz. Even if you are a wine connoisseur,   you may be fooled by a few of the questions so everyone will have a chance to win! It’s a great way to learn about wine and maybe even win a terrific prize !

The winner of the Quiz will receive a gift certificate for “One-Free-Weekday–Night Stay” (Monday through Thursday) when they purchase a one night stay OR 50%-A Weekend-Night when you purchase a one night stay at The Harrison from January 9th through March 26th. This gift will be valid through April 30th, 2016.

The Wine Tasting Weekends will begin on January 9th, 2016 and end on Saturday March 26th, 2016 from 5:00PM – 7:00PM. We look forward to seeing you there! Book now to reserve a Room and participate in these great Events!

The Harrison – Victorian Elegance, Contemporary Luxuries, Outstanding Service.

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The Holiday Season in Cape May 27 Dec 2015, 11:39 am

Cape May is without a doubt one of the most enchanting seaside towns in the country. During the Holiday Season, Cape May is transformed into a Dickens village adorned with miles of fragrant garlands, thousands of twinkling lights and signs everywhere of Christmas past.

This year we were delighted to have participated in the Christmas Candlelight House Tour!   With over 2000 guests passing through the doors of The Harrison to catch a glimpse of our exquisite Holiday Decorations, we were so thrilled to hear all the wonderful comments regarding the numerous changes we have made to the Inn.

We are excited to be able to offer our guests an extraordinary opportunity to join us during the upcoming winter months for our exclusive Winter Wine Tasting Weekends as the Holiday Season slowly draws to a close.

 

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Enjoy Christmas in Cape May 24 Nov 2015, 5:09 pm

Christmas in Cape May is nothing less than enchanting. Celebrating the Christmas season in Cape May is one of the Jersey Shore’s best kept secrets.  There is so much to see and do from wonderful Holiday Tours to magical Holiday Lights Trolley Rides to a romantic stroll in a festive Horse & Carriage.  Why not join the Christmas Candlelight House Tour during the first 3 weekends in December, attend the Dickens Christmas Extravaganza, or visit the Ghosts of Christmas Past.

The Cape May Stage is featuring “A Cape May Christmas” while the East Lynne Theater Company celebrates “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus“.

Enjoy a winery tour or take an Evening Yuletide Tour.

Whatever you decide to do in Cape May during the Holiday Season we have no doubt that you will smile as you take a trip into Christmas Past…Visit Christmas in Cape May for more info.

 

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Key West – America’s Hottest New Luxury Destination! 24 Nov 2015, 4:40 pm

It is always around this time of year when the weather gets colder that I start thinking about Palm Trees and sunshine.  We love to travel and just got back from Key West, Florida.  If you haven’t been there, you might want to put it on your bucket list.

According to Forbes, Key West is America’s Hottest New Luxury Destination for 2015!

Key West is a wonderful destination if you love to be outside, fish, dive, snorkel, sail, or bike. There is a wonderful wave runner tour out of Hurricane Hole on Stock Island that will definitely get your adrenaline going.  When you finish, if you love fresh seafood, you’ll want to find your way (if you can find it) over to a hidden gem called Hog Fish Bar & Grill  which is just a mile or so away.  The Hogfish Sandwich will keep you coming back.

If you love to eat, you almost can’t go wrong in Key West.  There are so many wonderful restaurants that you’ll have to come back many times if you want to try them all.  If you want great food with a breathtaking view and upper deck bar, try Louie’s Backyard.  If you want homemade pasta in an intimate warm setting ON Duval Street (yes can you believe it), try Antonia’s.  A bit off the beaten path on Petronia Street, is an outstanding tapas restaurant called Santiago’s Bodega. The owners have a wonderful story as well.  Or try Cafe Marquesa’s Contemporary American Cuisine inspired by seasonal items or Nine One Five on Duval and enjoy some of their wonderful small plates paired with one of the over 20 wines by the glass as you watch the passers by from a glorious Victorian porch.

If you are celebrating a special occasion, you will want to go to either Latitudes On Sunset Key that can only be reached by boat and ask for a table in the sand.  If you really want to make a lasting impression head north about 40 minutes to Little Palm Island and have a table for 2 in your own private gazebo where you will have a breathtaking view, “Extraordinary to Perfection” according to Zagat on the Dining Room, and impeccable service.  It is well worth the drive!

Sorry, I digress.  Food is one of our obsessions!  After you’ve overindulged, you will find plenty of activities for every type of adventurer.  Two nights ago we went on a Moonlight Kayak Tour, yes in the dark, to try to catch a glimpse of sharks, baracuda, shrimp, sea urchins and other ocean life.  The bird watching was amazing even if you’re not an ornithologist!

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is great experience.  You find yourself mesmerized in this stunning conservatory surrounded by many species of butterflies as well as birds, turtles, and beautiful tropical gardens.

If you like to fish, Key West offers some of the best flats fishing in the world as well as great adventures in deep sea fishing.

If you’re not too tired you have to head over to Duval Street, the Bourbon Street of Key West.  Wonderful live music venue’s one after the other…Shops, Bars, Wine Bars, Motorcycles, Electric Cars, Live Performers, Drag Shows…and people watching of course.

When Ernest Hemingway first visited the island in 1928, he made Key West his home for awhile.  He found an abandoned home and fell in love with it.  He lived with his second wife Pauline and 50 cats until 1939. Wouldn’t it have been a hoot to be a fly on those walls.

If you want the perfect place to stay I’d stay at Salida Del Sol just 15 minutes from Key West. It is without a doubt the closest thing to paradise. To book call us at 609-884-4948.

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