Fenwick Island motel has fun writing its own obituary

FENWICK ISLAND, Del. (AP) — Delmarva residents were invited to say “good riddance” to the 70-year-old Sands Motel as its owners begin its new chapter.

“It comes with a minimum of sadness that we announce the passing of the not-so-loved Sands Motel,” begins the Monday night announcement on the motel’s Facebook page. “After years on life support, the plug was finally pulled on the Sands, leaving few (if any) mourners.”

But for many, the closure is bittersweet. The Fenwick Island motel’s official closure, which has been underway for multiple years, has left more than one of its past visitors nostalgic.

“I will absolutely miss this place,” commented Facebook user Kimberly Beach. “I had the start of many a wonderful week at the beach with a night or two at The Sands. Truly the end of an era.”

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The spot on 1501 Coastal Highway first opened in 1948 as the Tingle Motel, and was later renamed the Sands Motel in 1976.

“Many residents of Fenwick Island thought of the Sands Motel as family — not as a kind, elderly grandmother, but more as that one mean uncle who’s had too much to drink,” the post reads.

But the drunk uncle’s loving fans — and there are apparently more than the post suggests — will soon see a major makeover: The retro-style motel, reminiscent of the era it opened, is undergoing redevelopment as part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton franchise. The site will become a new hotel with 65 rooms, which is an upgrade from its current 38 rooms.

The new hotel is set to open by summer 2020. Construction starts early next year. The building will be the same height as its current building, said said Sands Motel spokesperson Meaghan Poulin.

The motel owners invited the public to attend a wake to celebrate “the life (and, more importantly, the death)” of the establishment Dec. 20. The current owners planned to have the previous owners attend, along with project stakeholders. Demolition officially begins early next week, but had the possibility to start as early as Thursday during the party, Poulin said.

“We will raise a toast and say goodbye to one of the most beloved places in all of Fenwick . . . or at least the most beloved place on the east side of Coastal Highway between Indian and James Streets,” the Facebook post reads.

Some Facebook users who commented on the post remembered a time when the hotel thrived.

“I’m surprised such a negative goodbye – we loved our times staying there!” commented Carol Cantwell Riley. “Sorry to see it go.”

The current owners of Sands Motel, who bought the property in 2015 after four decades under the same family, began working that same year with Fenwick Island town council to approve the additional rooms for the motel, which Fenwick Island Mayor Eugene Langan at the time called “a very bad situation” in part because its previous owners would use the venue during the winter to house homeless area residents.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Poulin said about the project.

The Facebook obituary also warns that there will be a “limited number of memorial gifts” for attendees to “help keep the memory of this once-fine place alive.”

“Or if you rather, you can bring a rock and break a window,” the post says. “Whatever helps with the healing process.”

The owners also invite anyone with old photos of their time at the motel to share them via sandsmemories@ocrooms.com so that the memories can be added to a photo album.

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Information from: The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md., http://www.delmarvanow.com/

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