04101 Travel Guide
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.
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.
One of our tipsters spent some time at the Portland Harbor Hotel in Maine and sent us these shots of the place.
Now we don't know for sure what goes on in Portland, or the rest of Maine for that matter, aside from lobster fishing but apparently this place is in the heart of Old Port, which was voted one of America's Sixty Best Public Places. It is also the only four-diamond hotel in Portland.
Inside, the very New Englandy-rooms have views of either the city, Casco Bay or the hotel garden. Yet despite some colonial stuffiness, the hotel does have Jacuzzi suites for all those late-night ragers you find yourself having in Portland. Rates start at $195.
Another exciting pic after the jump.
We will let you in on a little secret--there isn't a great hotel in Portland Maine.
If you want to stay within walking distance of the Old Port you will have plenty of choices, but, in our opinion they all have some drawbacks.
First, most hotels in-town Portland are extremely expensive. Hey, when your "season" is approximately six weeks long your rack rate better be high enough to cover your debt services.
One hotel to consider, if you are willing to navigate its shortcomings, is the Portland Harbor Hotel.
This property is relatively new, has a great little coffee bar and free Internet access for guests. Furthermore, it is directly in town so you can walk to all destinations Old Port.
So what is the issue?
Issues And Solutions Post Jump
Maybe a new building with a facade of titanium steel would be welcomed with open arms in Pittsburgh, however, on Commercial Street in the Old Port, it ain't gonna fly.
The Old Port is a quaint section of Portland's "working seaport," and the Hilton Garden Inn looks completely out of place.
Of course the look of the hotel has nothing to do with the service. So how is the service? Here is what one miffed guest said:
This hotel ruined my girlfriend's and my vacation and has caused weeks of havoc and stress. The valet parking service blatantly crashed our car. The entire staff refused to accept responsibility, saying we had no proof.
Yes, we know, a car accident, allegedly at the hands of the hotel staff, will definitely taint your hotel experience. However, other guests have opined that this hotel is a tad over priced, at least for the type of service and amenities you get.
In general, Portland Maine is an expensive place to stay in the summer, we are talking rates that can break $200 a night. With that in mind do you really want to take a chance on this steel monolith?
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