Archive for the ‘Inns’ Category

Newsy bits and pieces from all over Maine

June 3, 2010

TONIGHT: It’s not too late to Eat for Pete’s Sake, a Humane Society of Knox County fund raiser to benefit homeless animals . See previous posting.

FREE! Don’t you love that word? The National Park Service has waived entrance fees to Acadia National Park this weekend, June 5 and 6, as well as Aug. 14-15, Sept. 25, and Nov. 1. Saturday, June 5, is National Trails Day, so go hike one of the park’s rehabbed classics in its honor.

CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION: “Winslow Homer and the Poetics of Place” opens at the Portland Museum of Art on June 5 and remains on display through Sept. 6. The exhibit, in honor of the centennial of Homer’s death, showcases PMA’s collection of about 20 watercolors and oils by the noted artist. It’s the first time since 1988 that all the works will be on view in the Charles Shipman Payson building. The museum owns Homer’s Prouts Neck studio, which is undergoing restoration and expected to reopen in 2012.

HUT, TWO, THREEMaine Huts & Trails has begun construction on its third full-service, back-country hut. This one’s about two miles below Grand Falls on the Dead River, and will be accessible by foot, bike, ski/snowshoe, and self-propelled boat .  “Construction of Grand Falls Hut, more than 15 miles of new trails and a spectacular 200-foot pedestrian bridge over the Dead River completes the first phase of our vision,” Herring said.

ISLAND ESCAPE: Nebo Lodge, on North Haven Island, has undergone a renovation and expansion, which included the addition of a new bar and fireplace, new deck and courtyard, new entryway, enlarged kitchen, expansion of two guest rooms. The lodge, owned by congresswoman Chellie Pingree, is open to the public for dinner. Its teamed with Equinox Island Transport to offer roundtrip transportation on the last two Fridays in June, and every Thursday in July and August. Depart Rockland, have dinner, and return the same evening; transportation is $20 pp. 

TWEET! Aroostook State Park is hosting a Birding Festival, Saturday, June 12. Highlights include: guided hikes led by seven of Maine’s top bird; birding by boat from Echo Lake; a live-bird demonstration of raptors; bird-house building for youngsters; and a group of artisan wood carvers demonstrating nature and bird carving. According to Park Manager Scott Thompson, this year’s festival emphasizes diverse birding experiences. “We’re here for more than just fishing and hiking; there’s a whole world of nature to explore and to learn how this park relates to Maine and the park system.”

FEELING BLUE? You might want to ink the Saddleback Bluegrass Festival on your calendar for the weekend of Aug. 6-8. Featured performers on Saturday include: The Jerks of Grass; Darol Anger, Scott Law, Sharon Gilchrist and Sam Grisman; The Stowaways; The Infamous Stringdusters; Mason Strunk; The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience; and The Del McCoury Band. Additional performances over the weekend will include The Mueller Family and Erica Brown & The Bluegrass Connection.

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White Barn Inn now managing Acadia’s Asticou

May 28, 2010

Big news for Acadia fans: US Hotels Group, owner of the haute, haute, haute White Barn Inn, in Kennebunkport, and the Windham Hill Inn, in Vermont, is now managing Northeast Harbor’s chi chi Asticou Inn. When I last spoke with White Barn Inn Executive Chef Jonathan Cartwright, he told me US Hotels was in an acquisition mode, and this management deal is testament to that. This should also help breath new life into a somewhat tired property that catered to the newly wed and nearly dead.

According to a press release, US Hotels plans to update the inn’s infrastructure and add its signature hospitality ethos and style to the Asticou while preserving the property’s classic charm.

The oceanfront inn, designed by prominent 19th-century architect Fred L. Savage, has been an area landmark since 1883, when the island became a seasonal retreat for wealthy vacationers, sailing enthusiasts, and summer residents from major urban centers.The inn overlooks well protected yacht-filled Northeast Harbor, which remains a tony summer destination (lots of Lilly Pulitzer, Docksiders, Chinos, and sherbet colors here). It is adjacent to the magnificent azalea gardens of the same name (which, by the way, are in bloom now).

Cartwright is overseeing the rejuvenation of the inn’s dining room’s menu. “Our plans include implementing an extended season for casual lunch service as well as the creation of new menus in the scenic cocktail lounge, which affords the perfect setting for enjoying harbor sunsets.”

US Hotels is a member of the Libra Group, which is privately owned by the Logothetis family and has hospitality interests in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. It manages eight New England properties, of which it owns seven, divided into Signature and Elite Properties. Signature Properties represent the ‘best of breed’ across a number of service categories from an informal Italian bistro to a range of hotels, spas and banqueting facilities. Elite Properties represent exclusive hotels providing world class accommodation, cuisine, and service (think White Barn Inn and Windham Hill Inn).

“US Hotels is proud to add the Asticou Inn to our collection,” says Paul Hanley, group CEO. “As with our other New England properties, it offers guests traditional values in a historic setting and offers the same culinary excellence that has won our group numerous plaudits. We plan to wrap ourselves in the heritage of this special property. We believe the property will benefit from the rich experience of its new General Manager, Nicholas Squire, who was trained at our own White Barn Inn and other world class hotels. Furthermore the partnership with this hotel  exemplifies the type of growth one can expect from US Hotels in the coming months with expansion planned both through management arrangements, like the Asticou, as well as acquisitions.”

Wings, Waves, & Woods returns to Deer Isle

May 10, 2010

Birders and art fans are invited to Deer Isle for the fourth annual Wings, Waves, & Woods, May 21-23. The festival, timed to coincide with early migration, is sponsored by the Island Heritage Trust, and a brochure detailing the event can be downloaded from its website.

Bob Duchesne, founder of the Maine Birding Trail, author of Maine Birding Trail, and a Maine Audubon trip leader for more than 20 years,  is this year’s special guest.

The festival opens with a reception Friday evening at the Pearson Legacy Gallery  showcasing bird-related artwork by more than 40 artists.

On Saturday and Sunday, experts will lead walks (free, donations appreciated), guide boat trips (fee), and give presentations and demonstrations. Here’s a sampling:

Warbler Walk, Settlement Quarry Preserve

Scotts Landing Bird Walk

Birding by Kayak, kayaks provided, $60

Nesting Eagles and Their Neighbors, Causeway Beach

Introduction to Birding

Puffins & Pelagics, cruise to Seal Island with Bob Duschesne, $60

Create Birdbaths & Planters, $35

Birdhouse Building for Kids, $5 includes materials and snack

Studio Demo & Tour (with the mega-talented Missy Greene and Eric Ziner)

Birding Identification Made Easy, Bob Duschesne

Lily Pond Walk

Found Objects Sculptures, demonstration, with Peter Beerits at Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies (one of my all-time favorite places)

Local Foods Chowder Supper will be available on Saturday night (seating limited; $12).

Where to stay: There are some wonderful accommodations available on Deer Isle. My favorite is the aptly named Inn on the Harbor, in Stonington. Both the Pilgrim’s Inn and The Inn at Ferry Landing are lovely B&Bs in Deer Isle. To really get in the spirit of the birding weekend, book a cabin at the oceanfront Goose Cove Resort, in Sunset, which borders the Barred Island Preserve. On a budget? Boyce’s Motel, in downtown Stonington, has clean rooms, some with kitchenettes. For dirt cheap accommodations, book a bunk at the rustic-bordering-on-primitive Deer Isle Hostel.

Splurge and save at the Inn by the Sea

May 8, 2010

Through May 26, write a $35 check to Habitat for Humanity, and save 50 percent, Sundays through Thursdays, on a two-bedroom beach, cottage, or loft cottage at the chic, ultra-green, four-diamond, oceanfront Inn by the Sea, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. With the donation, rates range $134.50-$169.50. While you won’t see the special advertised on the site, the rate pops up when you click on reservations and enter potential dates for an overnight or two.

Act quickly, and apply your savings toward the Chef Tasting Menu, served through May 15, in the inn’s ocean-view Sea Glass Restaurant. Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich prepared this six-course New England with a Twist dinner at the James Beard House in New York in February 2010. The price is  $75 per person, or $110 with wine flight, and includes:

amuse bouche
• lobster and seafood ceviche
• roasted beet carpaccio
• pan-seared jumbo scallops
• Atlantic cod and lobster “chowder”
• red wine braised beef cheeks
• local apple crostata

Alternatively, you might splurge at the inn’s spa. Or just reap the savings and enjoy beach strolls, walking through inn’s certified butterfly and bird plantings, or simply plunking down in a lawn chair and enjoying the serenity of listening to waves rolling into shore and birds singing. A boardwalk above a marsh and path through the dunes connects the inn to Crescent Beach; really, it’s quite idyllic.

And here’s a tip: If you stay overnight, order the crab cakes Benedict for breakfast, then keep in the seafood mode with lunch at the nearby Lobster Shack at Two Lights.

May midweek spa special at Stage Neck Inn

May 4, 2010

If you’re itching to take advantage of this early season warm spell and want to enjoy a bit of pampering, too, check out this deal at the oceanfront Stage Neck Inn, a AAA four-diamond resort property in York Harbor. The midweek spa package includes overnight lodging, with spa treatment (choose from four), hot buffet breakfast,  four-course dinner, and use of resort facilities (indoor atrium pool and Jacuzzi, fitness room with co-ed sauna, seasonal outdoor pool and clay tennis courts, beach, and 18-hole private golf club privileges), at rates beginning at $205 per person based on double occupancy, $295 single. Package is available Sunday through Thursday, through May 29.

This is a great location for prowling around the Southern Coast: walking and sunning on the beaches, shopping Kittery’s outlets, admiring the region’s historic architecture, and visiting historic sites and forts.

Maine bits and pieces: news and chatter

May 3, 2010

Here’s a quick round-up of interesting news bits that have come across my desk:

Chebeague Island Inn reopening under new ownership

A favorite destination for travelers and day-trippers since the 1880s, the inn, restored in 2003-04, will re-open May 14 under the new ownership of the Prentice family of Yarmouth, Maine. With the May re-launch, the Prentices will be adding a more stylish, up-to-date ambiance.

One notable change is the inn’s restaurant, now under the direction of Executive Chef Justin Rowe, a veteran of 555 and Fore Street. The contemporary American menu, rooted in Maine and New England, will focus on locally/regionally sourced foods and beverages.

Here’s wishing the new owners success. I’m hoping to visit soon to see what’s happening.

• Unveiling of the Calves

You’ve heard of the Running of the Bulls, well Aldemere Farm, a 136-acres saltwater farm in Rockport, offers a far gentler experience. This Saturday, May 8, is its ninth annual Calf Unveiling Day. From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. , you can  tour the Farm and visit with the newly born Belted Galloway calves (nicknamed the Oreo cookie cows for their distinctive white belt). Aldermere staff and volunteers will be on site speaking with visitors and providing information about the Farm and the herd.

Several other local farms will also be on site offering information regarding the goods they produce. These include:

• Sunnyside Farm with goats

• lueberry Farm and Blue Sky Farm with alpacas

• Ells Farm and Terra Optima will be selling meat

• Savage Oakes and Coastal Mountains Land Trust will have information about their operations

• Tanglewood 4-H Camp will present about their many agricultural offerings.

Other activities include the Rusty Hinges band performing (around 11 a.m.) and the Aldermere Achievers 4-H Club working throughout the day with their animals.

• Best Chef in the Northeast

Tonight, the James Beard Foundation will name the winner of the coveted Best Chef in the Northeast award. Chef/owners Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, of Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit, have been nominated seven times. Here’s hoping that these perennial bridesmaids finally win; they certainly deserve it.

No. 10 Water Street opens tonight

No. 10 Water Street, the new restaurant at Brunswick’s Capt. Daniel Stone Inn, opens tonight, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Brunswick is getting to be an increasingly interesting food town, with a nice choice of inexpensive to moderate restaurants.

• Zip-line adventure park opening in Wiscasset

Monkey C Monkey Do, a Zipline family adventure park, is under construction on Route 1 in Wiscasset.

Plan now for inn-to-inn Spring Herb Tour

May 2, 2010

The Admiral Peary House, in Fryeburg, is participating in the Spring Herb Tour. (Admiral Peary House photo)

The Country Inns in the White Mountains‘ second annual Inn to Inn Spring Herb Tour is slated June 5 and 6, with 13 inns in Maine and New Hampshire participating. Each inn will focus on one herb, and tour guests can sample fare made with that herb and collect a recipe or two. The tour is split, with seven inns highlighted June 5, and the remaining six on June 6.

Lodging packages are available, with rates beginning at $99/double, for one night, $178 double, for two nights, including herb-themed breakfast and tour tickets. Some packages also include a five-course herb-themed dinner.

Tour-only tickets will be sold May 11-25 and are $20 per person.

Saturday, June 5:

Bartlett Inn in Bartlett , featuring rosemary

Inn at Ellis River in Jackson featuring oregano

Inn at Jackson in Jackson featuring tarragon

The 1785 Inn in Intervale featuring mint

Glen Oaks Inn in Intervale featuring basil

Wildflowers Inn in North Conway featuring parsley

Old Red Inn & Cottages in North Conway featuring chives

Sunday, June 6:

Admiral Peary House in Fryeburg, Maine featuring hops

Eastman Inn in North Conway featuring lavender

Darby Field Inn in Albany featuring caraway

Riverbend Inn in Chocorua featuring cumin

Inn at Crystal Lake and Pub in Eaton featuring sage

Brass Heart Inn in Chocorua featuring lemon thyme

Restaurant Week Maine lodging deals

February 19, 2010

Restaurant Week Maine is quickly approaching and this year, there are some decent lodging deals offered that complement the set-price dinners. For example, the Inn by the Sea is offering a $99 traditional room or garden suites (add $30 for a spa suite), Sun. through Thurs.; Camden’s Hartstone Inn has traditional rooms beginning at $175 including breakfast and dinner, and the Camden Harbour Inn has rates beginning at $87.50 pp including breakfast and dinner. Some Portland B&B’s are discounting rooms, other properties haven’t detailed the offerings, so you need to ask. In any case, it’s a great way to sample some fab properties at a fraction of the peak season costs.

Natalie’s at the Camden Harbour Inn reopens, launches new menu

February 10, 2010

Natalie’s Restaurant at The Camden Harbour Inn reopened tonight, after a seasonal siesta, with a LOVE-themed party featuring tastings from its new menu. Suffice to say, one bite was nowhere near enough. Natalie’s at the Camden Harbour Inn makes Camden a winter dining destination, a fine choice for a romantic winter escape.

But let me tell you more about the new menu.

While listening to a Beatles tribute band, I tasted a sampling of appetizers:

• house-cured salmon gravlax, poached quail eggs, white dressing, endive ($12)

• crispy veal sweetbreads, rosemary, Aleppo pepper aioli, serrano ($10)

• seared diver scallops, scallop and spinach springroll, reisling saffron limeleaf nage ($14)

and entrees:

• grilled double chop rock of lamb, stuffed piquillo peppers, coffee cumin lamb just ($32)

• seared duck breas and leg confit, red wine braised porcini mushrooms, potato souffle, sauce salmis ($30)

• slow poached Maine lobster, whipped cauliflower, bacon, black truffle ($market)

So, you probably want to know which one was best. Truth? I can’t decide. Each time I thought it couldn’t get better, it did. If I had to pick faves, hmmm, I guest the sweetbreads and the scallops appetizers, followed by the duck breast, although that lobster was damn good.

Bottom line: Lawrence Klang has turned out a fabulous seasonal menu worth a special visit to Camden.

A peek at the Limerock Inn

January 31, 2010

During Rockland’s Pies on Parade event earlier this month, I stayed at the Limerock Inn, a wonderful B&B (and member of the Historic Inns of Rockland) just a couple of blocks from Main Street. Now I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for this inn, as it was created by friends back in Rockland’s gray days, the era when it was  better known as a rough-and-tumble fishing community, rather than the arts, dining, and shopping destination it is today.

The house is a standout, an 1890’s Queen Anne painted lady, complete with wrap-around porch, listed on the National Historic Register. The woodwork alone is exquisite. Each of the eight rooms has its own distinctive flavor, from the turret room with a lovely wedding canopy bed to the Cottage Room, a private oasis with its own door opening to the backyard gardens. Some have whirlpool tubs and/or a fireplace, and there’s Wifi throughout. Currently no inroom TVs (although flat-screens are in the future), but there’s one concealed with the living room armoire.

The furnishings  are top of the line, reflecting two of the original four owners (two couples) business; they owned a furniture store. They bought quality, but made sure it was in keeping with the period and decor, and the emphasis is on comfort. Let me tell ya, those leather chairs with ottomans in the living room invite relaxation, perhaps with a selection from the library of good reads positioned within grasp.

Frank and PJ, the current owner/innkeepers, are naturals, and Frank is the creative cook who whips up more-than-filling breakfasts. If you’re really fortunate, there might be a serving of his Key Limerock pie available—trust me, he nailed it (and his granola crust seals the deal).The self-serve pantry assures that those who crave a midnight snack will find one.

These guys love Rockland, so they’re a wonderful source of info for first-timers to the region, and the inn provides enough privacy (including individual dining tables) that it’s a good choice for newbies to the B&B experience. One night here, and you’ll be booking again and again.