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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Maine's Real Life Edgewater Inn Combines Nice Elements of 'The Ghost and Mrs. Muir' and 'Newhart'


[Editor’s Note: The following is a “lost” travel review of a Maine inn; learning of the scheduled February 2014 DVD release of the second season of "Newhart" coinciding with a desire for a homey diversion from DVD reviews for Thanksgiving day prompted publishing this review today.]

My highly significant other and I intended to have a grand day out in Boston in June, but anticipated heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Andrea resulted in planning to be spontaneous at noon on that Saturday. We decided at the beginning of that week that a last-minute getaway was a good “Plan B.” A “Plan C” and a “Plan D” also entered the equation.

The Hotel Tonight app listed great bargains at noon each day for hotels that night. We focused on Kennebunkport, Maine because it was only an hour from home, and because it is a quaint resort town. Additionally, I had determined that Kennebunkport is the real-life setting of Schooner Bay in the uber-awesome Hope Lange ‘60s sitcom “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.” Jessica who?

We narrowed the lodging candidates to one hotel that was charging $199 and the Edgewater Inn, nee the Green Heron Inn, which offered a $139 rate. Joking in reference to my fiscally conservative nature, I immediately responded that I wanted the $139 option.

The Trip Advisor reviews for both properties showed that the Edgewater Inn left its competitor in the dust. Seeing the wonderful spa-like rooms, pet-friendly policies, and description of the truly sumptuous three-course breakfast on the Edgewater Inn’s website solidified a desire to stay there.
I actually groaned when learning that the Edgewater Inn offer was gone; I shouted “book it, book it, book it” when on being told a few minutes later that it reappeared. I was very pleased that our second effort succeeded.

The bright sunny reception area and comfy adjoining living room truly are welcoming and induce a nice feeling of calm. Having innkeeper Caroline Neish, who has the classic blonde looks of “Newhart’s” Julia Duffy but the warmth of that series’ Mary Frann, greet guests with a smile and a virtual hug enhances the experience. It feels like visiting the sibling who you like.

As an aside, this comparison was written long before having any hope of "Newhart" S2 ever being released.

Toronto native and world-traveler Neish and her husband, Peter Ciriello, were long-time seasonal residents of Kennebunkport when they purchased the property in June 2012. Neish’s 25 years of hotel development experience for companies such as Starwood and Accor helped the inn’s $400,000 transformation from a “tired” facility to a spa-like boutique inn succeed. Future plans include building a brick-oven and creating a small private beach and bar area along the Kennebunk River behind the inn.

Each guestroom is painted in soothing creams or pastels and feature seascapes, which are for sale, by a local artist. Neish generously upgraded us to the corner Pemaquid Point room. The baby blue walls and dark Pottery Barn style furnishings go well with the dual views of the river and awesomely quiet environment at the inn. 

Additionally, the queen-sized bed is very comfortable. The pillows achieve an ideal balance of firmness and softness, and the soft pure-white sheets encourage lingering in bed.
The Pemaquid Point room’s bathroom has a nice large stall shower with a rock floor and great Canadian-based Olive Branch Botanicals brand amenities. The soft, fluffy, bright-white towels are as nice as those of the many spas that I have visited.

A quick tour of the other nine traditional guest rooms confirms that they share the spa-like feel and great cleanliness of our room. A two-bedroom luxury suite in the main building and a two-bedroom two-floor cottage on the property are perfect either for two couples or a family that is looking for a mellow environment in which to unwind and contemplate life’s larger mysteries. 

Personal “deep thoughts” regarding whether enough wishing wells were haunted to prompt Canadian-born easy-listening star Gordon Meredith Lightfoot, Jr., to sing about that subject led to discussing the horror movie “The Ring.” As a related aside, I will never be convinced that liking pina coladas or “kinda” liking the film “Breakfast at Tiffanys” are enough to sustain a romantic relationship. That is not to mention the plethora of impossibilities in the song "Brandi."

Returning to our primary topic, Saturday afternoon was spent exploring the retail district of Kennebunkport, which is an easy fifteen-minute walk from the inn. That district is neat and sedate, and I imagine that everyone is off the streets by eight most evenings. Further, the shops are clean, and the merchants are friendly. 

After dinner, we walked to the beach roughly one-half block from the Edgewater Inn. We enjoyed strolling out onto the point on the rocky shore, which was kept shipwreck free. Watching the sun set over the town was very nice, but my effort to urge a crab who was stranded in the parking lot back onto the beach only antagonized the poor crustacean. 

Yet another great feature of the Edgewater Inn was that it fulfilled its promise as a boutique getaway spot by providing both a bed and breakfast. The first two courses of the Sunday morning three-course feast were tasty melon balls accompanied by granola and yogurt followed by wonderful honey corn muffins and tiny ramekins of a hearty cheddar and pancetta quiche.

I chose three really large buttermilk pancakes with Chantilly butter, medium-amber maple syrup, and bacon for my entrée. My hopefully longtime companion had the eggs benedict. We both loved our meals, and neither of us could finish them.

The chocolate and sea salt tea was an especially special treat. It tasted like a light hot chocolate, and it being tea allowed the delusion that it was healthy. The excellent server, who was attentive without even bordering on being intrusive, provided an additional treat in the form of the story of the seal who was rumored to live in the river. 

The après-pig out walk on the beach led to discovering a beautiful one-room stone-and-wood Episcopal church right on the water. It seemed that the church might have once been a private chapel for the nearby Bush family Walker’s Point retreat. 

Meeting Domino, a year-old mixed breed rescue dog, on the very canine friendly beach was another nice surprise. 

The bottom line is that Kennebunkport’s proximity to Boston, the Edgewater Inn’s spa-like environment, and the affordable cost of venturing up there make a visit to that great destination very worthwhile for locals and a great stop for folks from outside the area to include in a New England adventure.