Carl Del Monte was born in South Philadelphia, February 1948, and by May of that year he was already spending his summers in North Wildwood. Rosalie DiGiuseppe was born in Italy, 1949, and immigrated to the United States in 1961. Like most Philadelphians, she also spent every summer in the Wildwoods. After their marriage in 1973, the Del Monte’s settled in Northeast Philadelphia and was 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 a piece of ground was available at 3rd and Ocean Avenues in North Wildwood and 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 1978.
The Del Monte’s had zero knowledge about the motel business and had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
By June of 1979 construction was complete, but the Del Monte’s were out of money and they were 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 the sign. One more problem, Atlantic Electric needed $2000 down to turn the electric on, but they didn’t have the $2000. Carl had to read the meter every week and pay the bill in person….in cash! 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 NorthWildwood, leaving the Harbor Light Motor Inn the last stop on the island. And, if that weren’t enough, the country was 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 Phiadelphia, Rosalie was forced to clean and close up the building by herself…with a 4 year old and 2 year old to keep her company.
For everything that went wrong in the summer of 1979, everything went right in 1980. The Del Monte’s 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 Monte’s purchased the building next door to the Harbor Light 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 Monte’s acquired the Matador in 1995, and thus began a new chapter for the family. The Matador has gone through extensive renovations and modernizations ever since and has become a symbol of pride for the family.
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. Gina, the daughter, is a successful account analyst in Philadelphia.
The Del Monte’s have committed themselves to continuously upgrading and improving every facet of their family businesses. Over the past 4 years, the family has reinvested over 2 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 lots of time with their five grandchildren.