ME Travel Guide
Bar crawls: Boozy. Lobster crawls: Bougie.
We’re not complaining. After all, this is something you'd expect in Kennebunk, the coastal Maine playground for the really rich and not-necessarily-famous. (Power is not measured in Twitter followers, dahling.) New Englanders heading up for a summer retreat at The White Barn Inn will now be able to book the “bespoke experience” of a customized “Crustacean Crawl” with the Relais & Chateau property’s esteemed chef Jonathan Cartwright. (He’s also the toque behind the fine dining Muse restaurants at two other tony Grace Hotels properties, Newport’s Vanderbilt Grace and Connecticut's Mayflower Grace.)
Stop the presses! Start the construction. It was announced this week that Maine’s former Portland Press Herald building will be transformed into boutique accommodations — The Press Hotel, slated to open in 2015. (We had heard this was going to happen a few years ago but now it's legit.)
The 90-year old building on Exchange Street in the historic Old Port District has been abandoned since the city’s major newspaper relocated in 2010. But local Jim Brady — a longtime hotel developer who has renovated properties for Doubletree Hotels, Holiday Inn and others established brands — intends to preserve the history of the space. He described his vision in a statement about the project:
We want to connect with the history of the building, the talent of the region, and the skills of Maine’s craftsmen and artists. … This hotel will be connected to where the local scene is going while being rooted in its past.”
The interior, designed by Stonehill & Taylor (the team behind NYC spots like The Refinery and Ace), “will be a modern interpretation of Portland’s history of news and information, the long history of Maine’s appeal to artists and the building’s printing history.” Read: Free coffee and Screaming Rooms. (No? Well, this is supposed to appeal to journalists, right?)
Old, run-down industrial buildings getting repurposed as boutique hotels? It's what we like to call 'a trend.' And Portland, ME is the latest city to get in on the action, with the conversion of the old Portland Press Herald building into a 100-room boutique hotel.
Funnily enough, the Portland Press Herald itself reported on the story, saying its former headquarters, which is located on the edge of Portland's historic Old Port district, has been sitting empty since 2010.
The reputation of hotel restaurants as sad, overpriced affairs is quickly falling away as some talented chefs make the eateries destinations of their own. This week, Katherine Spiers is taking us to some of the best hotel restaurants in the world.
Kennebunkport, a seaside village in Maine, is known mostly for its position under the Bush presidencies as the "summer White House." The Walker-Bush clan has owned an estate there for over a century, hosting guests like Yitzhak Rabin and Billy Graham for the last 20 years.
The White Barn Inn, just down the way a bit, has served dinner to a few of these dignitaries as wellthough the restaurant's more likely to be the setting for a marriage proposal. The huge barn, retrofitted and painted and decorated in country chic, certainly looks the part.
Presidential Hotels / Political Hotels / Maine Hotels / Holiday Inns / Bar Harbor Hotels / Barack Obama / → All Tags
Michelle and the girls headed up to Maine with Barack earlier today, all packed and ready for a relaxing weekend of hiking Acadia National Park and hanging out in cooler temperatures. Bo the dog is joining them too! He flew up a few days early though, with secret service and security detail who've been working to nail down the specifics of the President's long weekend stay.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the lifestyle of digital nomads -- folks who work from wherever they might roam. HotelChatter has been covering hotel wifi since the beginning, but as we cited in our 2009 annual hotel wifi report times they are a changin'.
The biggest change on the tech side is the growing popularity of the usb broadband card. As more and more people buy into these cards (and more and more GMs pray to the hotel gods they do) there are a growing number of digital nomads that no longer tap into a hotel WiFi network. Instead, these nomads are in search of killer hotel lobbies to comfortably work in. That's right, digital nomads have no problem coming in, kicking back on hotel lobby couches and doing an hours worth of work. So once again hotels have a choice -- welcome these folks, pay no mind to them, or actively try to kick them out.
With this in mind, we figured it was time for us to start rating hotel lobbies on their digital nomad quotient. First up, the Portland Harbor Hotel.
But--because there’s always a but--we definitely picked the wrong day to drop by their blog. Right now the first post you see is about a dream wedding which they describe as being perfect, but the newly-weds are beaming at us from under an umbrella on a dreary-looking day. Not exactly our idea of a dream wedding. Then again, some consider rain on your wedding day good luck.
That said, the Newagen Seaside Inn’s blog is still pretty readable. There’s a mix of self-promotion (especially for their weddings) and general info on Maine, and nice pics to go with it. There’s even an interview with a family who’ve apparently been vacationing at this same hotel for 40 years but unfortunately they didn’t ask them why they’d never thought of choosing a new destination.
To sum up: the Newagen Seaside Inn has put together a much more professional hotel blog than some of the big guns, so we’re saying thumbs up. But we’d be very careful about choosing the season if we got married there.
The newest edition to the Orchid Hotels and Resorts family is Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport, Maine. Normally, we don't go further north than Manhattan when we travel the Eastern Seaboard but we are actually contemplating a stay here at Hidden Pond when it opens in July.
The hotel is actually made up of 14 cottages complete with full kitchens, king beds, flat-screen TVs, large screen porch, gas fireplaces and even an outdoor shower. (There's an indoor bath too.)
Some more on the cottages:
Natural fabrics, an inviting screened-in porch, a gas fireplace set in river stone, clever little kitchens and floor to ceiling windows that allow nature inside ... enjoy all of this by day and then retreat to the sanctuary of your bedroom where you'll find Frette bed linens, plush down-filled duvets and the most comfortable bed you've ever had the pleasure to encounter.
While some of you Nor'easterners have your heart set on visiting the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore this summer, at least a third of you is going to head up to New England. And if you love fresh Maine lobster, we suggest you head for the Bar Harbor Inn and Spa, one of only three hotels in Maine to be listed among the top 500 hotels on the planet by Travel + Leisure.
Built in 1887, the inn has a long and fascinating history, tied in to the lives and fortunes of the Vanderbilt's, the Pulitzer's, and other prominent American families who spent leisurely summers in Bar Harbor.
The hotel is directly on Frenchman's Bay and has 154 rooms in three distinctive buildings on eight acres of landscaped grounds: the Main Inn, Oceanfront Lodge, and Newport. For larger rooms with balconies and incredible oceanfront views, opt for the first two.
"Nature hates calculators," Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, likely around tax time. If slaving away at 2007's taxes have shown you that you need to create more opportunities for deductions this year, might we suggest planning a weekend getaway to the Waldo Emerson Inn, a bed and breakfast believed to be one of the oldest houses in Kennebunk, Maine?
Book a stay in May, when the inn--and other members of the Maine Innkeepers Association--cut room rates in half to support "Hospitality for Habitat," a program that raises funds for Habitat for Humanity projects in Maine. In exchange for the discount, guests who stay between May 1-23 will be asked to write a $35 check to Habitat for Humanity, which you can write off come tax time next year. Everybody wins!
But there's more charm to staying here than a vacation that yields a tax deduction. The B&B maintains much of its original construction from 1753; plus Waldo Emerson, Ralph's great uncle, used to build clipper ships on the river behind the house. The colonial-style inn offers just four guest rooms, each anointed with handmade quilts, antiques, working fireplaces and private baths. May rates start at $95 per night.
Find out the current state of the 1878 property, and how to avoid getting arrested on your way to the Inn, all after the jump, of course.
The thing about staying at an inn is sooner or later you are going to bump into the innkeeper. Whether you are a social butterfly or an introvert, when you stay at a small bed and breakfast, or an inn, you need to be prepared for your "innkeeper interaction". Which is why we figured it would be a good idea for you to get to know who runs your inn of choice before you decide to check-in. Meet The Innkeeper is our new video feature where the innkeepers get to speak directly to you, oh so intimidating potential guest, and tell you what their particular inn has to offer.
More on the Black Point Inn coming soon.