Milton and Thelma Conner were married in 1940. After working at the Hastings Hotel in the early days of Ocean City, and later working side by side at their Dunes Motel, they dreamt of opening a full service hotel on an inherited vacant oceanfront block of land.
Many years were spent in the planning stages of the Dunes Manor Hotel. Unfortunately, Milton Conner fell ill. After his death, Mrs. Conner received several phone calls asking her when she wanted to sell. “Sell?” She was determined to see their dream come to life. Mrs. Conner would joke, “Some thought I was an old fool to build a hotel at the age of 74 years old”. So with her humorous spirit, the hotel was officially opened on April 1st, 1987… April Fool’s Day!
The Guest Experience
During the 1940’s, while working at the Hastings Hotel, Mrs. Conner said how nice it was to watch the guests come together at meal times, gathering in the lobby or conversing on the veranda, She noted, “There were many interesting conversations that led to friendships.” So when planning the guest experience here at the Dunes Manor Hotel, not only were the modern conveniences important, but Mrs. Conner also wanted to provide as many opportunities as possible for the guests to interact amongst themselves and with the staff.
Of course, our signature item is our Afternoon Tea. It’s not so much the crumpets, cookies and tea, although it can hold you over until dinner time, but it’s also the chance to take a break from your day and relax with family, friends and the staff. Our oceanfront veranda certainly brings everyone together—it’s a great place for guests to gather to experience a beautiful sunrise or watch the dolphin jumping.
In the evening, guests gather around the piano to sing along with Shirley Toms, who has been a part of the Dunes Manor guest experience for over fifteen years! Mrs. Conner’s vision of offering Victorian hospitality and charm is woven into many of the features guests love the most about the Dunes Manor still today!
Planning for the Future
Every year, Mrs. Conner and her team would plot and plan. What items needed to be fixed, replaced or added? In the event we lost a key member of the operation, had we planned for such an event? In 1999, Mrs. Conner passed away. She, however, had already designed the Dunes Manor “blueprints” on how to move forward. Surely Mrs. Conner would be pleased that it all has worked out just as she had designed. Recently a guest asked an employee, “Are you family owned?” The employee said, “yes”; the guest looked pleased and said, “I can tell because everyone really seems to care.” We could not have asked for a nicer compliment! And yes, we still plot and plan… Mrs. Conner’s “blue prints” are updated annually.