We waited months for a vacancy at Rockland’s award-winning Berry Manor Inn. Many readers told us this was a great place, and now we agree!

Innkeepers Cheryl Michaelsen and Michael LaPosta Jr. invite guests to “experience a return to graciousness and grandeur” in their historical Victorian, built in 1898. They are not overstating the experience. We stopped briefly at the inn during Rockland’s Pies on Parade event in January and knew immediately that we wanted to return for a stay.

Recognized by the state of Maine as an “Environmental Leader in Hospitality,” the owners’ commitment to the environment is exceeded only by their determination to pamper their guests. This is a very special place.

My only regret on Sunday morning was that the inn’s fantastic breakfast left me with no room to finish the last piece of pie in the Carriage House. Berry (of course!) pies are placed in both the inn and the Carriage House for guests to enjoy anytime of day or night. I can tell you that the raspberry pie is really really good — with a good dollop of vanilla ice cream from the fridge that was also there for the use of guests.

The thought that went into our Carriage House room’s features and design is impressive. We loved the built-in drawers, nesting tables, window bench, skylight, huge comfortable bed, shower (what a blast!), wonderful lighting (the rooms in many Victorians are dark — but not here!) The heating system is not visible — it’s built into the furniture.

The main inn has a large dining room, living room and sitting room, with two fireplaces and lots of wonderful places to sit — including wicker chairs on the porch. Despite the formality of a Victorian home, this is an informal place — with many conversations in the kitchen.

Upon arrival, you’ll get a full tour. Cheryl is eager to make your stay in the Rockland area special, and she’s got lots of information to make that happen. Knowing we are birders, Assistant Manager Jessica Fossett gave us Bob Duschene’s Maine Birding Trail brochure, highlighting locations in the Rockland area. Very thoughtful.

Assistant Manager Lori Hayes, our breakfast server, welcomed us to the table by name — yet another indication that the staff works overtime to make guests feel special and welcomed. We hadn’t met her until she approached our table that morning.

If you let them know your interests in advance, from wineries to restaurants to secluded beaches to good fishing spots, they’ll have suggestions ready when you arrive. Rockland has it all, from art to ocean walks.

Cheryl and Michael are just the fifth family to live in this handsome house (Rockland requires businesses in this residential part of the city to be owner-occupied). They moved into the home in 1999 and began a massive renovation led by Cold Mountain Builders — although Cheryl emphasized that the previous private owners “cared for it — they didn’t destroy it.”

Cheryl and Michael took great pains to retain the old features including doors and molding, and the beautiful Victorian is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

We enjoyed a wonderful Saturday night dinner at Rockland’s In Good Company, one of our very favorite restaurants, where Chef Melody Wolfertz turns out unique and delicious food. I had haddock baked with Maine crab, crispy wild ramps and new potatoes, with superb sauces. Fantastic!

And when our server, Andrew, found out we were staying at Berry Manor Inn, he said he was thinking of booking a night there, “just to eat the pie!” I agree!

Our room in the Carriage House was very spacious. The room’s unique design gave it  lots of character. First of all, it contained the original cupola. Looking up from the bed the first night, I noticed light from its windows. It wasn’t enough to be distracting, but enough to notice the moon was out.
The cathedral ceilings and Palladian windows opened this room up. The view of their perennial gardens could be enjoyed from the window seat. The furniture featured built-ins, including the Murphy bed with custom molding and mahogany cabinets. Elegant eggplant-colored window treatments and bedding blended well with the patterned taupe wallpaper.

Cheryl, who clearly has tasteful decorating sense, worked with the designer when renovations took place by managing the layout of the furniture, placement of outlets, and bathroom design. A great deal of thought was put into every room, while trying to stay true to Berry Manor Inn’s historic structure .
The Carriage House was a very quiet place to stay even though it was full of guests. The only clue other people were here was the missing pieces of pie in the common room in the morning! Nothing like waking up to the heavenly smell of fresh coffee brewing at 7 a.m.

We enjoyed our coffee in mugs bearing the Berry Manor name and thematic color while wearing their thick luxurious robes — wonderful!

My favorite luxury of the weekend was the Body Jet Shower. It could have been intimidating without Cheryl’s guidance on our arrival. “Stand outside the shower when you turn it on — you never know which setting the last guests left the jets on!” Great advice.

George sent me in to figure it all out first (a little too complex for him). There were shower controls on each side, and each of the eight nozzles could be adjusted for the type of water flow you desired! It’s along the lines of a car wash for the body.

Breakfast here is not an afterthought. Hot coffee and juice with a poached pear, yogurt and blueberries was just the beginning.

I’m not a “sweet breakfast” person most of the time, but their Raspberry Stuffed French Toast was absolutely perfect. The almond-flavored ricotta filling, with just a hint of sweetness, was very tasty with a berry topping and crunchy almonds. I didn’t know until I watched Cheryl prepare some breakfasts in the kitchen that croissants, pressed on the griddle, were the basis of the French toast. No wonder it was so good!   

Cheryl talked to us about the inn without missing a beat, as she continued to prepare 10 more breakfasts for guests. (She may be ready for her own cooking show.)

We were particularly impressed with their commitment to the environment, from providing environmentally friendly bath products, to recycling items, to using an electric mower for the lawn. Cheryl is passionate about this and likes to educate her guests about ways they can help the environment as well.

There isn’t a person in the world that doesn’t appreciate a gift, and the inn’s gifts of Fiore olive oil (from one of our favorite Rockland shops) and a recyclable bag are very thoughtful.

The innkeepers’ goal is to give guests a memorable experience. They want to put you at ease and make you feel at home. A luxury inn that has a relaxed atmosphere is not common. Mike and Cheryl pull this off beautifully.

IF YOU GO . . .

Berry Manor Inn
81 Talbot St.

Visit George’s website: www.george
smithmaine.com for travel tips, book reviews, outdoor news and more.

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