Monday, December 9, 2013
Kennebec Journal Staff
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.
IF YOU GO
ON THE WEB: www.barharborhotel.com
Check out their real-time webcam:
The Lafayette’s also own Wonder View Inn & Suites next to the Bluenose. It’s less expensive and welcomes pets.
ON THE WEB: www.wonderviewinn.com
Acadia National Park
ON THE WEB: www.nps.gov/acad/
Webster defines an inn as "a public house for the lodging and entertaining of travelers." That definition is entirely insufficient for Bar Harbor's Bluenose Inn.
Here's how we'd define the Bluenose: an elegant public house of large luxurious rooms with stunning ocean views, with a first class hill-top restaurant serving the finest food, great entertainment -- from indoor and outdoor pools, to the piano player in a very comfortable lounge -- and heavenly spa treatments.
Or you could just define the Bluenose as the finest kind of vacation.
While we've avoided Bar Harbor for 30 years, fearful that it was too crowded and touristy, we had a major attitude adjustment on our recent weekend visit. Now, we can't wait to go back!
As an admirer of any hotel run by Maine's Lafayette family, I was still unprepared for our experience at the Bluenose.
The attention to detail and the comfort of guests is extraordinary -- from thick towels to the manager's handwritten welcome note to the shingled wastebaskets outside each building that match the building's siding. A lot of thought has been given to this special place.
Every member of the staff is super-friendly. No one -- including maintenance staff and housekeepers -- passed us without a greeting and an opportunity for conversation if we wished. Jim Ash, the manager and co-owner, was responsible for turning Rockland's Samoset Resort into a top-of-the-line destination, and we quickly discovered why. Jim's middle name must be hospitality.
We appreciated the special chance to get to know Jim and his wife Diane on Friday night at the Looking Glass Restaurant when they joined us for dinner. The view is unbelievable, and Executive Chef Arturo Montes produces some of the finest food in the state.
Shortly after our arrival, on a tour of the facilities with Jim, we spotted a fellow in a chef's apron outside the spa, harvesting herbs from a small garden. Sure enough, it was Montes. He and Lin engaged in a discussion of the herbs he was selecting for the evening's dinners while I spoke with Jim about his deer problem.
Our dinner at the Looking Glass Restaurant changed my dining habits. Neither Lin nor I like oysters. But when Montes sent out Oyster's Rockefeller, we were absolutely astonished. They were fantastic!
In addition to the oysters, I loved the Spicy Maine Crab Cakes so much I had them for dinner Friday night and for breakfast Saturday and Sunday as the base for Eggs Benedict.
For an entrée I had Halibut to Die For -- well, that's not what they called it but it was. Southwestern Grilled Fresh Halibut came with corn and black bean cilantro salsa over green chili polenta. It was perfectly cooked and very tasty.
I'd also ordered up a side dish of another entrée, the Lobster Mac & Cheese. Oh my gosh. In my LBL (Life Before Linda), my favorite dish was Mac & Cheese mixed with bits of grilled hotdogs. Well, lobster takes this to a whole new level, and this was not the cheese that comes in the Kraft box. MMMM great.
They offer a very clever tray of "mini $3 desserts," small portions that are just right to finish a meal. I had a superb carrot cake.
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