We’d just experienced the challenges of the Christmas ice storm and power outage, dropped off our daughter at the Portland Jetport and we were ready to crash.



Opening the door to our fourth floor suite at Portland’s Marriott at Sable Oaks, I exclaimed, “Oh, I think this is going to be adequate.” It was the understatement of the weekend.

We’d just experienced the challenges of the Christmas ice storm and power outage, dropped our daughter Hilary off at the Portland Jetport, and begun our weekend getaway in Portland. We were ready to crash and Sable Oaks was just the place to do that.

This is a place where you can enjoy an entire weekend without leaving the premises. Want to work out? Swim? Ayuh. Find relief from those aches and pains in a sauna? Enjoy a luxurious spa treatment? Ayuh. Eat a lot of tasty food? A big ayuh. Hang out in a beautiful bar? Ayuh. The hotel offers all this and more.


General Manager Ed Palmer is all about hospitality, and the staff takes its lead from Ed. Everyone was super friendly, had plenty of time to chat, give tours and make our visit special.

The hotel is strategically located within sight of South Portland’s enormous shopping malls. You can actually walk to the mall from the hotel.

I also discovered another service we are sure to utilize in the future. When flying out of the Portland Jetport, you can stay here for one night, take the hotel’s free shuttle to the jetport and leave your car at the hotel for the duration of your trip — all for less than it costs to park your vehicle at the jetport.

Fire and Water, the hotel’s bar and restaurant, wraps around the front of the hotel near the entrance and offers a breakfast buffet, special lunch menu and very nice dinner menu. For dinner, we chose the upper level of the restaurant and a seat near the back with a huge window looking out at the brightly lit interior courtyard.

A live three-piece band entertained us throughout our leisurely dinner and we lingered longer than most guests. Our server, Dominque, never hurried us and was always attentive to our needs. Dominque is a New Hampshire native attending nursing school in Maine.

Continuing my statewide study of crab cakes, I began this culinary adventure with Maine Crab Cakes, accompanied by roasted corn-cilantro salsa and a chipotle mayo and chili oil, priced at $9. The presentation of the three small crab cakes was beautiful, the cakes nicely crusted but moist inside and the sauce was very tasty. I also loved the corn-cilantro salsa.


We passed up the six choices of salads — given that our appetizers were large and we’d thoroughly enjoyed the bread basket — but had a tough time selecting entrees. I love Cioppino, a seafood stew, but selected the Herbed Seafood Penne priced at $24, because Dominque recommended it. And I am glad she did.

The dish was chock full of lobster, local sea scallops and baby shrimp and included sweet peppers, all mixed in with the penne pasta and covered in a delectable lobster cream sauce. The portion was huge and I was forced to stop eating before even half of it had been consumed.

We had no room for dessert although the creme brulee would have been our choice.

We really appreciated the opportunity to order wine in 3, 6 and 9-ounce portions. We found that the 9 ounces of Diseno Malbec was just right for the two of us on this particular evening. We were very tired and didn’t want to fall asleep at the table!

We left the restaurant with an embarrassingly large bag of leftovers, stowed it in the refrigerator in our suite and transported it home on Sunday morning for a wonderful Sunday dinner.




Though George has been to many functions held in the Marriott at Sable Oaks, I cannot ever remember visiting here before. If you gaze up the hillside from the Maine Mall in South Portland you are bound to spot the tall Marriott building. Sometimes bigger can really mean better. I was immediately impressed by the elegant, modern decor. This is a sizable building, meaning I could get lost here pretty easily. From giant elevators and wide hallways to its large open lounge, bar and restaurant, you are bound to be impressed by its size. Yet this was one of the quietest hotels we’ve ever stayed in.

Once I stepped into our room I thought I might get lost right in our suite! Designed with an open layout, the large pieces of comfy furniture in the living area should have eaten up all the space to make it feel cramped. But the room was so big it achieves its open feel. I loved the tastefully chosen upholstered fabrics for the furniture, the carpeting and the art pieces on the walls.

Most of our initial confusion of where things were located stemmed from the fact that there were two vanity sink areas, one on each side of the bathroom. I popped in one by the bedroom, then I popped into another which led to the main living area. George was equally confused until we realized that all doors open to a circular flow around the suite. Guess our rural lifestyle was showing a bit here!

Around 5 p.m., a cracker, fruit and cheese plate arrived with a choice of bottled waters. We were feeling very pampered.

Festive holiday decorations adorned the already spectacularly beautiful Fire and Water restaurant. The restaurant’s open space featured large hanging ornaments, lights framing the windows and gorgeous wreathes.


We were seated in the section called the Upper Room which peeks out onto an outdoor courtyard. The Marriott building wraps around the courtyard, giving it an intimate feel. Set with tables and chairs, an ice sculpture of a reindeer and lit with lanterns and lighted trees, the courtyard draws guests out to explore and take photos ever so quickly in the chilly weather.

The menu features seafood and steak with many choices of tempting starters and salads. But let’s not overlook the incredible bread basket that will arrive, full of incredible house-made bread and accompanied by butter, hummus and addictive roasted peppers. It took some willpower not to make this my meal. My starter of Tomato Reggiano Soup was the perfect choice. Unlike other tomato soups I’ve tried, this one was thick, creamy and comforting. Its drizzle of chili oil made it far from dull. Just delicious.

The Ribeye entree was a perfectly tender steak sprinkled with chunks of smoked blue cheese. The plating was eye catching with its ring of kale and tower of three battered onion rings. Mmmmm.

Even without ordering desserts we managed to leave with a rather large bag of leftovers. The restaurant stayed busy throughout the evening with many family groups continuing their holiday visits. Fire and Water also has a great looking lunch menu, making its quieter setting a good spot to take a break from the hubbub of shopping just down over the hill.


Just before we left the restaurant on Friday night, we overhead a lady from Litchfield at a nearby table raving about her “very creative salad,” and talking with the server. It was clear this was not the first visit she and her husband had made to Sable Oaks. “We just spent three days without power, so we decided to treat ourselves,” said the lady. “We’re spoiling ourselves,” she exclaimed.

This is a very nice place to spoil yourself!

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

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