Our Story

Dscover Our Jersey Shore History

Very few family resorts in NJ are as steeped in the history of Wildwood as the Harbor Light Family Resort.
 
Carl Del Monte was born in South Philadelphia in February of 1948. By May of that year, he was already spending his summers in North Wildwood. Rosalie DiGiuseppe was born in Italy in 1949 and emigrated to the United States in 1961. Like most Philadelphians, she also spent every summer in the Wildwoods. After their marriage in 1973, the Del Montes settled in Northeast Philadelphia, excited to start a family. By 1977, two sons had been born and Carl was working for a bank in Center City Philadelphia. Within a six-week span, he was held up twice at gunpoint. Those events had ‘triggered’ a major decision that would alter the course of their lives. It was time to move to the Wildwoods full-time. At first, they wanted to open an ice cream business, but like many an idea, that dream never materialized. Shortly thereafter, it came to their attention that a piece of ground was available at 3rd and Ocean Avenues in North Wildwood and a builder already had the approval to build 23 units on the lot. They believed in themselves and decided to take a wild chance. Carl and Rosalie sold their home in Philadelphia, cashed out their retirement fund, borrowed money from relatives and the Harbor Light Motor Inn was under construction in October of 1978.
 
The Del Montes had zero knowledge about the motel business and had no idea what they were getting themselves into at the time either.
 
By June of 1979, construction was complete, but the Del Montes were out of money and mortgaged to the hilt at 13 percent! A chain of events began to unfold that would immediately begin to test their resolve and give the newfound business owners a taste of reality. Officially out of money, the day the original Harbor Light sign was being installed, they had to cash in their sons’ college funds to pay for this cost. One more problem arose when Atlantic Electric needed $2000 to turn on the electric, but the family didn’t have the money. Carl had to read the meter every week and pay the bill in person, which needed to be in cash. But the fun didn’t stop there. By the time the Harbor Light opened in June 1979, the old wooden bridge leading into North Wildwood burned down, which forced every potential customer to enter through Wildwood, not North Wildwood. This left the Harbor Light Motor Inn the last stop on the island. And, if that wasn’t enough, the country happened to be in the midst of a gas crisis. There was no gas and no customers. Murphy’s Law was holding true to form: “Everything that can go wrong will go wrong.” The first customer did not arrive until July 19, 1979 when the gas crisis began to ease. By September, the season was over and the bills were piling up. Carl took a temporary assignment with his old employer and drove back and forth to Philadelphia for the next six months. With Carl having to be in Philadelphia, Rosalie was forced to clean and close up the building by herself with a four-year-old and a two-year-old to keep her company.
 
For all that went wrong in the summer of 1979, everything went right in 1980. The Del Montes were finally able to get caught up on all their bills.
 
In 1983, a daughter was born and in 1984 with the encouragement of the City of North Wildwood, the Del Montes purchased the building next door and named it the Harbor Light II. Due to the poor condition of their recent purchase, it took many years of renovation to bring the Harbor Light II up to par.
 
Fast forward to the spring of 1994. The Matador Motel, which was owned by Rosalie’s Aunt Josephine, became available. The Del Montes acquired the Matador in 1995 and thus began a new chapter for the family. Through the years, the Matador has experienced extensive renovations and modernizations, becoming a symbol of pride for the family.

Present Day

Carl and Rosalie Del Monte have spent 33 years in the motel business and raised three children in the process. Their daughter-in-law Heather manages the Harbor Light Family Resort and their son Robert runs the Matador Oceanfront Resort.
 
The Del Montes have committed themselves to continuously upgrading and improving every facet of their family businesses. Over the past four years, the family has reinvested over two million dollars in the Harbor Light Family Resort and the Matador Oceanfront Resort. It is this commitment to excellence that has allowed the family to adapt to an ever-changing business climate and provide their customers with quality, friendly and affordable service.
 
Carl and Rosalie still work the business every day, but also spend a great deal of time with their six grandchildren.