The Travelin Maine(rs), George and Linda Smith of Mount Vernon, have spent their lifetimes enjoying all that Maine has to offer. Now they’ll tell you all about it — their favorite inns, restaurants, trips, activities, experiences, and travel books and websites — in their own personal style. They’ll be offering anecdotes, tips and all the details you need. So join them in exploring, experiencing and enjoying the great state of Maine.

We could live at Cape Elizabeth’s Inn by the Sea . . . in a two-story suite with amazing ocean views, taking our meals at the world-class Sea Glass Restaurant, walking daily on Crescent Beach right in front of the inn, birdwatching in the surrounding gardens, enjoying daily treatments in the luxurious spa . . .

Whoops! Time to wake up from that dream!

While none of us will ever live this dream year-round, a brief visit to this dream location is possible — and we guarantee it’s an experience you will store in your memory bank and haul out often.

Linda

I am constantly astounded by the amazing places that are right under our noses. Sometimes I think that our out-of-state visitors know of more hidden gems in our state than Mainers do. That was certainly the case for me as we headed to Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth.

While driving there I realized that I, a native Mainer, have never been to Cape Elizabeth! I was looking for signs along I-295, saw none, and finally asked George, “How do you get to Cape Elizabeth anyway?”

“Follow the signs for Scarborough,” was his response. Not exactly a shopping destination, you might not ever go to Cape Elizabeth unless you know someone who lives there. 

The Inn by the Sea is a luxury hotel with incredible grounds, and a view of the ocean from every room. The inn had a complete makeover (not just a facelift) three years ago. With a goal of preserving the environment, they became a LEED Certified Green hotel.

Once you enter your room through that beautiful wooden door you’ll be transported to another world. Our spa suite had every amenity you could possibly imagine — a spacious kitchenette, an extremely comfortable sitting area, a computer and work area, and a loft bedroom with an incredible ocean view.

I suspect what will remain in my memory is the jaw-dropping, two-story windows that make up the entire back wall. (Push the button for the electric shades on that upper story window if you don’t want the sun to wake you.)

The vaulted ceiling makes this space seem enormous. Sliding glass doors open to a small private deck overlooking the vast grounds and ocean. I felt like we were staying in an ultra-modern apartment, not a hotel room.

You are bound to be impressed with the multi-roomed bathroom! The enormous shower included a bench and was large enough to count as a room. Further in, there was a Jacuzzi bathtub opposite a stunning wash area (extra amenities are stored in baskets on shelving below the sink). The toilet area is in a room of its own. This bathroom is magnificent.

We enjoyed every moment of our 24-hour stay here. Every staff member is genuinely helpful, friendly and professional. One of the waitresses was describing just how beautiful the gardens are here in the summer. Their gardener, Derrick Daly, created these gardens of indigenous plant species over the past 10 years.

Derrick excitedly told us Monday morning of three bluebirds he’d just spotted in the bushes outside. That’s all it took for me to exit the interview George and I were conducting, grab my binoculars and get outside, where I spotted a flock of 10 bluebirds eating inkberries. Wow!

It’s January, so I can’t imagine how many birds and butterflies come here when the gardens are at their peak! I’ve already made plans to return for one of Derrick’s summer garden tours.

George

Even the most elegant inn requires friendly, professional staff to succeed. The Inn by the Sea hits a homerun here. You’ll never meet a more enthusiastic gardener than Derrick Daly — now Lin’s friend for life. Our dinner server, Vanessa Helmick, was a fascinating young woman with her own interior design business (featured in the January issue of DownEast magazine). Also great were spa manager Malina Payne and the restaurant’s Amy Farrell, an Oakland native — well, everyone we met seemed to have all the time in the world to visit and make our stay special.

We met the inn’s marketing director, Rauni Kew, at Harvest on the Harbor in Portland last fall and quickly made another new friend. Rauni is justifiably proud of the inn’s significant commitment to the environment — something I especially appreciated as a sportsman/environmentalist.

From their partnership with Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to create habitat for the endangered Cottontail Rabbit, to a very long list of conservation strategies including heating with Biofuel, it’s no wonder Trip Advisor and Forbes Traveler selected the inn as one of the world’s top 10 green hotels.

The good news is that all of the environmentally friendly features enhance your comfort and experience — even the dual-flush toilet that offers two flushing options. I particularly loved the light in the closet that came on when I opened the door, and went off when I closed it.

We’ll be writing more about the inn’s spa and restaurant — but I can tell you right now they’re spectacular. You’ll also be tempted by the lengthy list of special activities offered here. One of their most popular outings takes customers out lobstering to catch their dinner.

For you folks who can’t travel without your dog, the inn welcomes dogs, reserves 17 rooms for dog-lovers, and even offers a special doggie menu (the “Meat Roaff” sounded like something I’d like!).

Conclusion

One night in our spa suite is $259, but you can shave off $20 if you are a AAA member. The less expensive Garden Room gives up nothing in amenities and includes a fireplace. And the inn offers very interesting special packages that include dinner and a lot more. If you are hard-pressed to spend that much money, save your pennies until May when rooms go for half price with a $35 donation to Habitat for Humanity. Half-priced pampering. That’s the Maine way!
     
Visit George’s website: www.george
smithmaine.com for travel tips, book reviews, outdoor news and more.


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