During our recent family holiday in Maine, my family and I ventured to a luxury oceanside resort in Cape Elizabeth called Inn By the Sea. Little did we know that we would be experiencing a completely blissful stay that would raise our bar for family travel forever moving forward.
Inn By the Sea offers spacious, modern, sleek suites with views of the ocean, gorgeous food served on the premises, children’s activities, a full-service spa and an extremely attentive staff. We felt right at home as soon as we walked through the door and remained in a zen state until we left. The hotel is a combination of everything a family looks for – luxury, personalization and sustainability, efforts I will describe in this post.
Getting to Inn By the Sea
The drive from our home in New York was just about five hours to Inn By the Sea. It’s approximately 320 miles from New York City. Once you hit Portland, you take the Casco Bay Bridge to route 77 to Bowery Beach Road.
Our Beach Suite was overwhelmingly beautiful. It was a one-bedroom with a king bed (and a pull out sofa and blow up mattress for the kids), complete with a fully equipped kitchen, a gas fireplace, flat screen TV, dining area, beautiful bathroom with an oversized tub, iPod docking stations, complimentary Wifi and something I loved so much: L’Occitane bath products.
The decor is impeccable and so tasteful, with wicker furnishings and a palette of subtle colors that provide just the kind of contemporary coastal attitude and nautical sense required. Not only were we a short walk to the Atlantic, where fisherman were mooring lobsters, but we were reminded of this fact with hints of decor like pictures of lighthouses and ships. It’s important to note that the resort offers two bedroom suites, as well, for bigger families and longer visits.
What to Do
The beauty of Inn By the Sea runs deep in that it offers a wide choice of activity for adults and kids alike. We spent our first afternoon lounging by the heated pool with the kids, sipping cocktails and mocktails (lemonade). We also made our way down the path to the sandy Crescent Beach for an hour of ocean air. The hotel provides towels and beach chairs and we spent the afternoon riding the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
The resort offers activities for kids throughout the day including art classes, kid’s yoga classes, tours of the inn’s gardens and eco-systems and a large grass area where kids can play volleyball, soccer and other sports. They also have a bonfire nightly in which they make s’mores, which was a big hit with my kids.
I happily took part in a few activities that didn’t involve my kids, as well. I woke up early on our one morning there and went to an adult yoga class on the lawn, which was the perfect way to welcome in the morning. I also spoiled myself with a decadent spa treatment: a Sea Algae Detoxifying Body Wrap. It was the ultimate way to rejuvenate my skin and take time out for myself. For one hour, I was truly able to let go. The resort treats their spa like a sanctuary and it truly relaxed my mind.
We also took a side trip to Portland Head Light a few miles away. Situated along the spectacular shores of Fort Williams Park, at 1000 Shore Road, the popular landmark is owned and managed by the Town of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. They have a museum which contains a number of lighthouse lenses and interpretative displays. The United States Coast Guard maintains the actual light and the fog signal, but the property is managed by the Town of Cape Elizabeth. It’s truly a spectacular sight.
Where to Eat
The food at Inn By the Sea defies description. It’s just that good! There were scrumptious options for my husband and I, who have quite discernible palettes and crave new culinary experience, and for our kids, who are often pickier. Chef Mitch Kaldrovich really takes heart with his menu options and the result is simply delicious. At dinner starters included lobster bisque, salads, roasted mushroom tarte, carpaccio and grilled watermelon salad. I opted for the watermelon salad and it was superb. The chef sent over “amusante bouche,” a sample of a quinoa dish with mackerel fish that was just sublime.
Farm to fork entrees included herb grilled salmon, pan roasted fillet of pollack, rigatoni bolognese (which my kids had at lunch and loved), garden vegan quinoa, handmade kale and ricotta ravioli and for dessert – what else? Lobster gelato! The menu combines coastal, comfort and health, and the same goes for lunch and breakfast, where lighter options are presented beautifully.
The Green Factor
Inn By the Sea is committed to preserving the natural beauty of their coastal setting. They are the first hotel in Maine to heat with solar panels and biofuel, to be Carbon Neutral and to achieve Silver LEED certification for their space. Plus, they are collaborating with the Maine Department of Conservation and Bureau of Parks & Land to restore habitat for the endangered New England Cottontail Rabbit at Crescent Beach State Park. They have assumed responsibility for removing two acres of invasive plant species such as bamboo and bitter sweet from their property and replanted the area with indigenous shrubs, which is rare for a resort to commit to and so commendable in my book. I enjoyed describing their efforts to my own children.
All four of us could not have been more relaxed or have had more fun at Inn By the Sea, and I can truly call the experience blissful. As a mom, I watched them swim, run on the beach, play on the lawn, relax in our room, eat healthily during our vacation (always a bonus) and smile in every direction as a result. The hotel is also extremely skilled at hiring their staff, as they were all equally attentive and amazing. Whenever we needed anything or had a question, our needs were tended to in a punctual, considerate manner.
I also want to point out that Inn By the Sea welcomes dogs! This didn’t apply to us, as we are not dog owners, but I feel like this is important to flag, as it’s highly unusual and lovely. They give dogs their own treats, water bowls, beach towels, pet menus for in room dining, dog walking and day care and dogs can accompany guests in the restaurant.
Disclosure: Holly was provided with a complimentary visit, spa treatment and the majority of my meals, but as always, opinions are her own.