George

The website of Attean Lake Lodge describes it as a “unique” place, and it is. But it’s much more than that. It’s an island paradise which draws visitors back year after year.

The land surrounding this large lake in Jackman is protected by a conservation easement managed by the Forest Society of Maine, so you won’t see a shoreline dotted with other camps. First you park at a nearby landing. Then you visit with Karl, a very entertaining gentleman who lives in a cabin there and manages arrivals. And then you are boated out to the island, where you will immediately relax and settle in for a very special experience.

The 15 log cabins have been refurbished recently, combining history with comfort, and accommodate two to six guests. You will spend a lot of time in the stunning lodge, built in 1991 after the old lodge burned, where a large gathering room features a fireplace, library, piano, lots of games and beautiful wooden furniture.

It’s in the dining room, though, where you may enjoy your favorite experiences — at least if you love food as much as I do. The lodge has a very creative chef and provides all meals, with breakfast and dinner in the beautiful dining room overlooking the lake, and lunches provided for guests to enjoy in their cabins or elsewhere.

My dinner entree of stuffed flounder with lobster stuffing and sauce was extraordinary. And my generous bowl of French onion soup was tasty. We both had créme brulee for dessert, and before I could say anything, Linda exclaimed, “Holy cow, that’s good!” Our friendly server Angelica was from Poland, enjoying her second summer here in our country.

Brad Holden, 70, has been at Attean Lake Lodge every year of his life. Lucky him! His grandfather took over this sporting camp in 1905, and Brad and his wife, Andrea, recently added their son, Barrett, and his wife Josie to the management team.

There’s no way I can convey to you how special this place is. But perhaps the words of a grandmother who we visited with on the beach will help. She first visited the lodge 40 years ago with her husband. Since he died, she’s returned with her children and grandchildren who call this place “Grandaddy’s Island.”

“This is a place where you can find yourself and who you are supposed to be,” she told me.

Profound and true. Many guests are forth- and fifth-generation visitors. Two weeks after we left, a lady was scheduled to celebrate her 80th birthday here with 30 family members.

Linda

I knew I was in for a great experience as soon as I stepped onto the boat that picked us up. Please understand that my reference for a boat is one we fish out of, usually with a bunch of rods in it. This boat had leather cushioned couches. As we sped across the lake I thought, “now this is how I’d like to travel!”

The cabins are in great shape thanks to improvements made by Brad and his son Barrett over the last 10 years. The cabins have gorgeous wood flooring, pine walls, Franklin woodstoves and modern bathrooms. There are no kitchens, nor are they necessary, as they provide three incredible meals a day. You will not go hungry here.

Right outside the lodge is a nice beach, with kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and boats for guests to use. After dinner, families can enjoy a fire on the beach, with s’mores provided by the lodge, and kids paddle boarding and fishing.

When we were there, lots of families were visiting. We were impressed with all the fun outside and inside things that are available for kids, including a horseshoe pit and basketball hoop. George and I relaxed on our deck overlooking the lake and in a variety of seats throughout the property.

These folks offer gourmet dining. The three-course dinner had three entrees to choose from, as well as choices for starters and dessert. I began with a Greek salad, which was a fresh and light way to start. I did try George’s French onion soup, which was superb.

I had chicken fingers with peddler fries for my entree. The crispy coating must have been a cornmeal crust, keeping the chicken moist and perfectly cooked. This was served with honey mustard sauce and fresh veggies that retained their crunch.

Créme brulee ended my meal and it was cold, creamy and eye-rolling good. Tables are decorated with fresh flowers from Andrea’s beautiful gardens and each have spectacular views of the lake. Our breakfast of eggs benedict and our take-away picnic lunch rounded out 24 hours of special meals.

Attean Lake Lodge is indeed a unique place where one can relax and be pampered in a very peaceful Maine setting. This is a place for getting away from it all.

I do have one tip for you: Attean Lake Lodge is full for the rest of the season, so you should contact them now and reserve a cabin for next year.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.