Monday May 21, 2007

Maine Magic

Debbi Karpowicz Kickhame writer

?Just a short drive away, our lovely neighbor Maine offers a wealth of natural beauty and blissful experiences that entice people from all over the world. We visited three Maine resorts, all within a three-hour car ride from Wellesley and Weston, and found exquisite accommodations in bucolic settings that are unique to the area. Pack your bags and steal away for some unprecedented, memorable moments.

Since the days of the Civil War, the White Barn Inn has offered superb hospitality, and its accommodations and cuisine have won more awards than you can shake a stick (of butter) at. Critics from magazines such as Departures, Conde Nast Traveler and Food and Wine are positively euphoric about this stunning Relais & Chateaux property, and with good reason. The rustic but elegant dining room serves world-class New England cuisine, the atmosphere is heart-fluttering romantic, and accommodations include junior suites with fireplaces and exquisite baths. This property in Kennebunkport is famous for its unusual “brimming” swimming pool that is built into the landscape. Reserve a cabana, enjoy an outdoor massage, and refresh your mind and body in the cool waters here. Better yet, request the inimitable butler-drawn baths made with Molton Brown products For $51.50 you can dip into the mixture of orchid, neroli, and tangerine oils, while fresh orchids float in the flicker of candlelight. “The service is first-rate,” says a retired Wellesley professor, who asked to remain anonymous. “The White Barn Inn has a European flavor, in terms of the staff, and we can’t praise it enough,” he says. “We’ve gone there about five times now…and it’s the best dining room outside of Boston. Try the signature lobster ravioli,” he recommends. “I surprised my wife by taking her there on her 70th birthday,” he adds, “and we’ve given gift certificates to the White Barn Inn to our children.”

And so can you. Relais & Chateaux gift certificates, in denominations of $50 to $500, are available at 877-334-6464. Inn rooms start at $275, while junior suites, the loft suite, and poolside cottage are more expensive. Rates include country continental breakfast, daily afternoon tea, and use of touring bicycles and canoes in season. For more information, visit, (207) 967-2321.

Located on the spectacular setting of Prouts Neck, Maine – within walking distance to artist Winslow Homer’s former studio – is the incomparable Black Point Inn. The 84-room seaside resort, set on nine lushly landscaped acres along Maine’s ruggedly beautiful coastline, is a historic, grand hotel surrounded by water on three sides. It offers two beaches and a wealth of activities including kayaking, fishing, bicycling, and volleyball, Oceanside yoga and aqua aerobics are available during July and August. There’s even a new “Lil’ Neckers” program for kids, with activities from morning until evening, where children can enjoy dinner and a movie if their parents prefer to dine alone. Portland, (Maine’s largest city) is perched on a peninsula on Casco Bay; here, you’ll find the cobblestone streets and museums nearly irresistible. “Portland is just a 20-minute drive away, if you want museums and nightlife,” says John Maibach, General Manager.

“What makes us unique is our location,” Maibach adds. Nearby activities include golf, spectator sports (the Portland Sea Dogs baseball team, for example), and outdoor fun that includes guided canoe tours of Scarborough marsh, the Prouts Neck guided cliff walk with an Audubon naturalist, yacht charters, cruises, sailing, and spas. Maibach underscores that the inn, with cottages that hold five to nine bedrooms, are ideal for family reunions and weddings. All accommodations feature king- or queen-size beds, and many offer the option of additional queen and twin beds, or pullout sofa beds, for added convenience. “Some families return year after year,” Maibach adds – and you can be sure they are welcomed back by name. It’s no wonder, then, that resort was a winner of the Zagat Survey 2005 Award of Excellence.

Rates start at $294 per night (European Plan) for a gardenview room, and $500 or more for a waterview suite. Bed-and-breakfast plans, and Modified American Plan (breakfast and dinner included) are also available. The resort also charges a 15 percent daily resort fee that includes use of the indoor-outdoor pool, the gym, afternoon tea, all gratuities, daily newspaper, and more. For more information visit, (207) 883-2500.

The secret has gotten out about Migis Lodge, so don't wait to book your reservations. Accommodations must be secured at least a year in advance, although, owner Tim Porta says, “There are always gaps in bookings – and new guests.” What’s the fuss all about? It’s not just a destination – it’s a way of life. Located on 4,000 feet of frontage on pristine Sebago Lake, Migis Lodge is one of the oldest resorts in Maine. It is a sylvan retreat where generations of families have returned, year after year, to soak in the views of the towering, 150-foot-tall pines on 145 acres, and silky crystalline waters. “One of the families who returns, again and again, spans five generations,” Porta says. Along with its experiences of yesteryear, it’s also a place where families luxuriate in modern amenities such as wireless Internet access, complete spa services, and fastidious attention to detail. “We completely renovated and invested several millions of dollars into the property,” Porta adds. Once you arrive, there’s no reason to leave. Choose swimming at any of three beaches, waterskiing, fishing, sailing, canoeing, motorboating, hiking on walking trails, massages, and mud wraps, and even ballroom dancing classes. Kids can participate in typical summer-camp activities, including everything from arts and crafts to treasure hunts. An elementary school teacher supervises the kids from morning until night. It's an environment where kids can walk out the door and feel safe,” Porta says.

The dining room is also known for its delights, and no one ever misses a meal. On Fridays, an outdoor lobster bake is served, Saturdays feature a huge hot-and-cold buffet with decadent desserts, Sunday mornings are famous for pancake breakfasts, and Mondays feature a cocktail party. Men, remember to bring your jackets – you’re required to wear one at dinner – a tradition the guests don’t want to change. The property is rare because, by comparison, “there aren’t many all-inclusive American Plan resorts in New England,” says Porta.

Barbara Gross and her husband Ed Chazen, of Wellesley, are Migis Lodge regulars: “We’ve been going every summer since 1988,” says Barbara, an associate vice president for development at Babson College. “It’s become a place we all return to. I love the moment we drive down the road leading up to it, as I get a sense of total relaxation, and security and freedom. The setting is magical,” says Barbara. “Every morning we go for a long swim in the lake. We play tennis, water ski, kayak, and eat a lot, because the food is great,” Barbara adds.

Rates, per person, per day, start at $290 in the Driftwood and Skylark Cottages, which include all meals, activities and facilities, except the use of boats with motors. Visit, (207) 655-4524.



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