George

I must have said “wow” a couple dozen times at the Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport. The first one came as the resort, built in 1884, came into view. It’s big and beautiful and right on the water. My second came when we saw the beautiful fairy garden at the resort’s entrance. Entering the main building to check in, we noted a staff meeting of 200 or more people in the dining room. And then we entered our stunning third-floor room. And the wows just kept on coming.

Owner Jean Ginn Marvin, a former Maine legislator, and general manager Tina Hewett set the friendly and helpful tone, and all the staff follow their lead. The resort is focused on customer service, including a staff of 15 who organize fun activities for guests. Their “Henry’s Club” offers activities for children of all ages, from arts and crafts to campfires with s’mores — I almost signed up for that one. While a trolley offers rides, we opted to walk the short distance to downtown Kennebunkport, a bustling place with art galleries, shops and restaurants.

But you’re hard-pressed to leave the resort, given the comfortable rooms, beautiful grounds, amazing food and activities from the pool to lobster boat tours. Breakfasts offer everything from delicious scones and muffins, fruit, pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and lots more. We walked all that off at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, a quiet and beautiful place just 10 minutes from the busy downtown.

We lingered over our dinner at the resort’s restaurant, 95 Ocean, where our server Samantha was enjoying her fourth season here. She patches together jobs during the winter and spring so she can work here in season, drawn back “for the people here.”

We enjoyed a bottle of Checci Chianti Classico ($35). My seafood chowder ($8 for a cup), was crammed with lobster, shrimp, scallops and haddock. My entree of Seafood Fra Diavlo featured lobster, shrimp, scallops, onions and peppers in spicy marinara over fettuccini ($28). It was good! Prices are reasonable, particularly for an upscale resort in Kennebunkport.

Nonantum hosts lots of weddings and conferences, and a prominent national public relations firm was hosting a conference of about 75 people during our stay.

Linda

Stepping into our third-floor room in the Portside Lodge at the Nonantum was like walking into the room of my dreams. It was a large white room with white furniture and a king size white bed with white linens. One accent wall was painted a deep blue, and the comfortable chairs and pillows were also blue. It was uncluttered, spacious and utterly beautiful. I was stunned by the view out the double French doors and large picture window. The Kennebunk River was alive with activity and led out to the ocean, which could also be seen from our room.

Everything is first class here. Gardeners work the grounds to keep all the spectacular flower gardens and lawn in perfect shape. One has the choice of sitting to enjoy the view in Adirondack chairs, or kayaking or paddle boating.

For dinner at Nonantum’s restaurant, we were seated in one of the smaller dining rooms. It was light and airy with a stone fireplace anchoring one corner. When Jean gave us a tour earlier in the day, she noted how she loved the craftsmanship of the tables in here. They were made in Maine using a variety of woods and were indeed beautiful.

I started with a cup of the soup du jour, a chicken pancetta soup with garbanzo beans. The pancetta added a nice zip to the clear, well-seasoned broth.

One of their signature dishes is blueberry barbecue ribs. I love ribs and know it’s not a delicate dish to eat, but this is a relaxed atmosphere without judgments being made, and I really wanted to try the ribs. When they arrived, Samantha asked if I would like a bib to protect my white top. Absolutely, I said. A little girl sitting near us was fascinated with my plastic lobster bib, in a good way (I think).

In any case, the ribs were great. The sauce was fruity with a hint of spice. I ordered the half rack ($18), and it covered my plate. I still had half of that serving to bring home as leftovers. The garlic mashed potatoes were a good choice, too. Alas, we were too full for dessert (George was even the one to declare it — a major breakthrough).

We started that week at Bradford Camps deep in the north woods, and ended it at Nonantum on the coast, reminding us of how blessed we are to live in such a wonderful state.

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.


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