Summering on the waterfront in Maine is a dream for most of us, but for a weekend — or a few weeks if you are rich or lucky — you can live the dream at the Claremont hotel in Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island.
On the opposite side of the island from Bar Harbor, the Claremont is a classic hotel built in 1884. The quietly stunning setting on the Somes Sound, where you can see the only fjord in North America, is a dramatic backdrop for the historic main hotel and several guest cottages.
There are 24 recently renovated guest rooms in the main hotel building, six private rooms in the Phillips House, and 14 cottages, spread across the six acre property.
The main house boasts a porch with rocking chairs where you can relax with a book or your computer — yes, wifi has reached Maine!
The more intimate Phillips House also has a veranda that tempts the tired traveler to sit and contemplate the water, as well as a large common room with a fieldstone fireplace.
Each of the 14 housekeeping cottages has a wood or gas burning fireplace, deck and kitchenette, for a classic “cottage on the water” vacation. The cottages has loads of character, from charming log cabins to more contemporary styles, and range in occupancy from two to seven.
There are a couple of options for meals on the property, including fine dining at Xanthus Restaurant. The menu is impressive, with local and organic offerings like Niman Ranch pork loin with fava bean risotto, and pan roasted red snapper with stewed fennel and tomatoes on a porcini risotto cake. But I have to admit I was disappointed not to see lobster on the menu. For me that’s a vital element of every trip back to Maine!
You can also enjoy a light lunch and evening cocktails at the Boathouse, and there is a new hotel bar for pre-dinner cocktails. “In season” between July 1st and September 2nd the hotel also serves afternoon tea, and in the summer has weekly lectures and music recitals.
For entertainment, the hotel offers boating, tennis, a library and two croquet courts, as well as close proximity to Acadia National Park, where you are practically guaranteed a moose sighting. The hotel is a quick 20 minute drive from the shops, restaurants and attractions of Bar Harbor.
The Claremont hotel is open from late spring to early autumn, with rates in the neighborhood of $150 to $250 per night in the off season, and from $200 to $300 range in season. Check the website for exact dates and rates.
In 2008 they offered two special packages, “Summer in Acadia” and “The Colors of Fall”. The two day packages were based on double occupancy and included two nights lodging, two full buffet breakfasts and one dinner. It’s definitely worth a look when you’re planning a summer vacation on the coast, or a foliage trip through New England.
If you’re dreaming of your summer vacation while looking at mounds of snow out your window, or making plans with family members over the holidays, you may want to consider a rustic visit to Maine, (State Motto: “The Way Life Should Be”) and stay at the Claremont hotel.
The Claremont Hotel
PO Box 137
Southwest Harbor, Maine 04679