February 7, 2013

TRAVELIN' MAINE(RS): Whether it's a Valentine Day getaway or quality vacation time with the kids ... Samoset Resort has something for everyone

Kennebec Journal Staff

What comes to mind when you think about the Samoset Resort in Rockport? Luxurious rooms? Stunning ocean views? An awesome Italian restaurant? World-class golf course? A wonderful spa? Tons of fun with indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, saunas, workout rooms and classes? Well, this winter you should be thinking family school-vacation adventures, romantic Valentine's Day experiences and winter weekend getaways packed with food and fun.

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The Great Maine Outdoor Weekend featured 82 events hosted by 72 organizations in 2012, and promises even more exciting outdoor opportunities this year. Scheduled for Feb. 15-18, this is your chance to try a new outdoor activity, get the kids excited about spending time outdoors and remind yourself of how much fun winter can be!

All of the events are described at www.greatmaineoutdoorweekend.org — from snowshoe races and ice fishing to guided cross-country skiing or a ferry ride for bird-watchers. Most of the events are free.
In this region, Wood Duck Nesting Box Installation and snowshoeing at Kanakolus Preserve Bog in Unity both sound like a lot of fun, and are sponsored by the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust on Feb. 16 from 9 a.m. to noon. Call 948-3766 for information and registration.

The Children’s Snowshoe Scavenger Hunt has got to be a ton of fun, sponsored by the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance and held at my favorite public land — the Kennebec Highlands — on Feb. 16 from 10 a.m. to noon. Call 495-6039 for information and registration.

How about a Family Ice Fishing Clinic, co-hosted by Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Wilton Fish and Game Club, scheduled for Wilson Lake in Wilton on Feb. 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call Emily McCabe at 462-1017 for information.

As it says on one of the event posters, the best way to get a child outside is to go with them. Do it on the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend. And even if you don’t have kids or grandkids, there are many events focused on adult activities. Take it outside!


We love any excuse to visit the Samoset. On the last weekend in January, our excuse was their amazing ice bar. Amazing! It was a work of art and packed with patrons who were not at all discouraged by frigid temperatures. Alas, it was only up for a couple of weeks, but you should put this on your schedule for next January, when I am sure the ice bar will return. The first weekend it was up, it drew 700 people.

The Samoset's manager Connie Russell and his staff are focused on the comfort and enjoyment of their visitors. I always appreciate the little things they do for us -- extra K-Cups for the coffee maker and my newspaper in the morning, for example.

Our other excuse for visiting Rockland that weekend was the annual Pies on Parade fundraiser. This event raised money for the local food bank and featured 19 inns, restaurants and businesses serving over 40 savory and sweet pies. OMG.

Room 423 at the Samoset now has our name on it. Before opening my eyes on Saturday morning, I heard Linda say, "Oh, Wow!"

She'd just raised the curtain to a stunning ocean view. I lifted my head slightly off the pillow and stared out over the water all the way to Vinalhaven, 15 miles off shore. Wow, indeed. This corner room looks out at the Rockland breakwater and harbor from one set of windows, and out over the ocean toward the islands from another set of windows. The view just can't be beat.

The room has many amenities you'd expect from Ocean Properties Ltd.'s hotels and resorts, elegance combined with comfort and convenience. I was especially impressed with the ergonomically designed desk chair. I'm sitting in it now as I write this column.

Linda and I both love resorts where we can spend our entire visit without leaving the premises. At the Samoset, it's easy to do that -- even in winter. They've got an indoor pool, hot tub, saunas, a health club with tons of equipment and more comfortable sitting areas (many with fireplaces and ocean views) than anyplace we visit. And their restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, while their lounge provides another nice place to hangout and enjoy a beverage and meal.

As we strolled around on Friday afternoon, making our plans for the weekend's activities, Lin noted a Saturday morning hour-long workout called, "Building Strength and Power."

Groan. She signed us up. We mustered in at 9:30 a.m., and were informed by a lady who entered the health club with us that it was a "great workout." Indeed. It turns out that playing volleyball once a week, and walking four miles a couple times a week, are not sufficient to keep me in shape. Holy cow, I thought I was going to die.

Saturday night, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at La Bella Vita, the Samoset's fine dining restaurant. And then we fasted on Sunday morning to make room for all that food at Pies on Parade. We'll tell you more about these adventures, and preview Maine Restaurant Week, in our February 21 column.

Daughter Rebekah and grandson Vishal drove over from their home in Union to spend Sunday morning with us and enjoy the facilities. Six-year-old Vishal is a swimming machine and a boy in perpetual motion. He loved the hot tub, beat me in many swimming races and then, just when it was time to leave, decided he wanted to hit the outdoor skating rink.

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