The Pan American Hotel is among the pricier beachfront properties in Wildwood Crest, but it’s also one of the more stylish. The lobby has a cool modern-meets-retro travel theme, and the rooms have private balconies, mini-fridges, and (at least partial) ocean views. The property highlight is the killer pool. There’s an on-site restaurant, but no booze (Wildwood Crest is dry of alcohol). Those who want to be closer to the boardwalk should consider the slightly cheaper Blue Palms.
A stylish hotel with a large pool and family-run restaurant
Built in 1964, the 78-room Pan American is one of four hotels owned and operated by the Morey family of Wildwood. They Moreys also run three amusement piers (Mariner’s, Surfside and Adventure) and two water parks (Raging Water and Ocean Oasis). The hotel’s mid-century architecture complements the decor -- the lobby and public areas are decorated in a retro aviation travel theme, while the rooms have varying levels of vintage style, depending on the room type. A family-run restaurant, Alosi’s, is located on the lobby level and offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner in-season. With a neighboring basketball court, baseball field, bike trail (behind the hotel), and the ocean itself, the Pan American offers ample choices for physical activity. The hotel’s main highlight is its large, heated outdoor pool, which features a concrete island, kids’ section, poolside fire pit, and sundecks.
An oceanfront location situated between sports fields
The Pan American is an oceanfront property on Wildwood Crest Beach (technically, a tiny road separates the hotel and the dunes). Situated on a quiet stretch of Ocean Avenue that’s over a mile from the boardwalk, there aren’t many restaurants or shops in the immediate area. A baseball field, basketball courts, and bicycle trail boarder the hotel on three sides, making this an activity-friendly spot. Due to Wildwood Crest being a dry town, visitors will need to drive beyond city limits (no more than five minutes) to find a bar or liquor store.
Varying levels of vintage and retro decor, with modern updates
Rooms run the gambit in size, from small studios to a three-bedroom penthouse. All have microwaves and at least a mini-fridge, while upgraded rooms feature full kitchens with granite countertops and electric stovetops (no ovens). Most rooms have sofa beds and some have bunk beds. The retro decor -- think vintage airline travel ads and 1960s globe lights -- is tasteful, but somewhat inconsistent. Some of the basic rooms feel more generic than vintage, with dated box TVs and forgettable wooden furniture.
Oceanfront pool, restaurant, guest laundry, sundecks, and free Wi-Fi
Outside, property highlights include a large heated pool, kiddy pool, fire pit, sundecks, and a snack bar with a decent selection of food and non-alcoholic drinks. Towel service, poolside bathrooms, and a shower/changing room (which guests can use after checking out) is also available. Inside, there’s a sitting room with a TV (known as the “media lounge”), free Wi-Fi, a guest laundry room, and an American-style restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in-season. Guests receive discounts to the Morey family’s piers and parks (at least 40 percent off admission, depending how many days you go). Rooms include one free parking space.
The most noticeable thing about this beach is its sheer size. It takes at least five minutes to walk from the hotel to the water’s edge, which can be annoying on a scalding hot day, but it also means there’s plenty of beach space for everyone. Unlike many Jersey Shore beaches, Wildwood Crest Beach is free and doesn’t require a beach pass. It rained two days before our visit, and a large strip of sand lining the water was still quite muddy and damp. Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (from mid-June through Labor Day). Animals, alcohol, fires, picnics, and barbecues are not allowed.
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