Resort hotel

A coastal classic from Maine is reborn


A few years ago my wife and I stayed on the quiet side of Mt Desert Island in Maine. This is where you’ll find towns like Bass Harbor, Otter Creek, and Seal Harbor, which are much less crowded than the other side of the island, where you’ll find Bar Harbor with its hotels, motels, restaurants, ice cream parlors, and yes, the midsummer crowds. Bar Harbor is the main gateway to Acadia National Park, which is why so many people flock here in the first place. Acadia is indeed a gem for hiking, beach walks and biking on the famous Rockefeller carriage trails.

However, at the end of the day, a little peace and quiet suited us better. This is why the quiet side appealed to us and it is the tranquility we found while spending a few nights in Southwest Harbor, staying at the Claremont Hotel, an 1884 New England Grand Dame style hotel which offered a painter’s view of Somes Sound, the only fjord on the east coast, as well as the iconic Mount Cadillac in Acadia.

At that time, the hotel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, had 24 rooms and the adjacent Phillips House had six private inn-style rooms. There are also 14 chalets with housekeeping. The hotel had a few restaurants and there were rowboats, bicycles, a clay tennis court, and two tournament-class croquet courts, as it was a place where the game was played by fierce competitors of the Claremont Classic. for 43 years. Best of all, perhaps, was the wide porch at the front of the hotel, which offered rocking chairs and an instant sense of calm. We loved its classic coastal feel and striking views across the strait. On the other hand, he was squeaky and tired and clearly needed a little sprucing up.

When The Claremont went on sale in 2020, its fate remained in the air. That is, until a new owner, and quite possibly the right owner, arrives.

Kennebunkport hotelier Tim Harrington bought the Claremont Hotel and embarked on major hotel renovations. If you know Harrington, it’s because he’s a partner and creative director of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection luxury boutique hotel group. These hotel projects include The Tides Beach Club, Cape Arundel Inn & Resort and Hidden Pond Resort in Kennebunkport.

In the end, the renovations and the purchase price represent an expense of about $ 20 million. The renovations included replacing bathrooms, windows, elevators, heating and ventilation systems, and installing air conditioning. It has been freshly painted and the rooms have Sister Parish wall coverings, as well as textiles by William Morris & Pierre Frey.

Upscaling is the term. The Renaissance Claremont now has 51 accommodations, including 12 cottages, four suites, a three-bedroom waterfront property and 34 rooms. Harrington added, most spectacularly, a heated infinity pool overlooking Somes Sound. There are also newly built cabins for rent by the day.

The Botanica Spa is slated to open on July 1, with four treatment rooms and spa technicians offering massages, facials, and treatments.

Dining options now include Harry’s Bar, Little Fern Restaurant and Buttercup Bakery in the main building. The waterfront Batson Fish Camp offers drinks and small plates.

Yoga and Pilates on the lawn overlooking Somes Sound begins June 28 and runs throughout the summer. There are cruising bikes to get to Southwest Harbor. Tours of the gardens are offered, as well as painting lessons with an artist in residence. While the intensity of past croquet tournaments is a thing of the past, the hotel has retained a croquet pitch for somewhat less competitive games.

Another striking change is the Heavenly Lawn Festivals, which begin this summer and mark a stellar event in the sky, such as the Perseid meteor showers in August. These events will feature live music, appetizers, food stations and cash bars.

As for that amazing porch, it remains, as do the striking views. Visit the Claremont hotel.