All times/distances are approximate.
1. Fly direct: JetBlue and Cape Air both operate to/from JFK. (2 hr 45 min). Or take a private plane into Knox County Regional Airport.
2. Driving: take I-95 to US-1 all the way up! (Travel time: 7.5 hrs from NYC)
Certainly there’s a flood of lobsters in mid-coast Maine and a great many lighthouses that dot its rocky emerald coastline, but perhaps what’s most inviting and inimitable about this once idealistic fisherman’s town is the brilliant-calm that gathers throughout the area. It’s this gentle breeze that threads the coast and thrills the senses, infecting the local population in such a way you can almost expect a warm, easy smile at every turn of the road. There are few places better to linger and inspire than on a vacation at the luxurious Samoset Resort.
Originally opened in 1889, the Samoset is one of Maine’s finest achievements, where for generations, vacationers have arrived time and again to escape the buzz and burn of workday life only to tumble into a tranquility that’s wholly distinct from any other spot along the New England coastline. With 178 luxury rooms and suites and four private ocean-view cottages, this historic 230-acre spot of rolling hills and grand gardens overlooks the deep-blue Penobscot Bay where you’re likely to spy (from your private balcony) a parade of schooners navigating the waterline or a skein of birds highlighting the prodigiously blue horizon.
This natural beauty is all-encompassing, maybe even politely overwhelming, as one traveler, who was tucked into a big flowery hat, found out quickly when she twisted her way down a mile-long manmade pathway that stretches out over the bay onto the scenic Breakwater Lighthouse. Along her meandering plot, this lady casually bent over the rocks to eye the splash of boat-induced waves pressing upon the boulders below, when she suddenly looked up with a delightful air and said to no one in particular, “This is not real. It can’t be.” She’s hardly alone in her thoughts as everyone here seems to be absorbed by these lush primitive surroundings, where every panoramic view looks like a patented postcard.
Anyone familiar with the inherent splendor of the Samoset’s coastline also knows the resort’s beauty is not confined to the natural world. One should anticipate a stay that includes some of today’s most lavish modern amenities—a brand new seaside spa, two heated indoor/outdoor pools, 18 holes of ocean-view award-winning golf, state-of-the-art health club, poolside bar and lounge, etc. It’s this contrast of modern-meets-nature that’s the obvious lure drawing visitors year after year. One golfer cheerfully noted while standing beside his putter at a nine hole, “You see this is God’s country. Wherever you stand it’s simply gorgeous but if you want to check your email or go for a quick massage then that’s no problem either! They have everything here: flat screen TVs, stunning views from your balcony, expert room service…oh and the kids are actually invited this time too!”
In the past year, Samoset has expanded with a new restaurant, lounge, spa, three private ocean-side cottages, and the new Samoset Kids Club (SKC) engaging kids with various activities including marine touch tanks, astrology tutorials, and even a complimentary art class, which is given weekly by a local professional artist. Say you want to spend an amorous evening free with your lover, well, this is possible too because the hotel offers certified babysitting service in the comfort of your room.
A charming location with sundry activities is critical to the vacationing experience, however first-class travelers are bound to reproach any resort if the dining is nothing less than exquisite. At La Bella Vita, the property’s new upscale Italian restaurant, expect an impeccable experience. For casual but still savory, the Splash Bar offers a full-on view of the bay, or take a moment to relax after swinging a few rounds on the green and join the Clubhouse Grille for a light meal, and if that doesn’t suffice then you can always saddle into the Enoteca Antipasto Bar for a glass of wine and a few small plates accompanied by a brick oven pizza.
If curiosity happens to whisk you away from the grounds, you always have the option of surveying the nearby artsy yet unassuming nautical town of Rockland, steeped with galleries, museums, live music venues, restaurants, bookstores, and antique shops; it’s almost as if this town built itself on the one surefire renewable resource: culture. And all the travelers here seem to be absorbed by the high-brow yet earthy atmosphere, as everyone appears dreamy, drifting from shop to shop.
Back at the Samoset as nightfall settles, the moon hangs high and handsome as if it were peeled from an old 1920’s movie set; it almost looks too real, as if it were neatly placed in the sky by the resort’s owners when no one was looking. You can hear water lightly ripple the coastline as the moonlight showers the bay below in a warm yellow glow only to remind its spectators that sometimes the simplest things in life are the ones that are really worth attending to. Maine and its “castle,” the Samoset, are well aware that you really don’t have to do too much to impress, sometimes the location will just speak for itself.
::Best times to go
Sept 4: Windjammer Festival’s 17th Annual Parade of Sail through Camden Harbor.
Sept 29 – Oct 2: Camden International Film Festival
Oct 9: Ragged Mountain Festival (Bike, hike, tour)
Sundays in October: Fall foliage chairlift rides
Hit up the Brass Compass Cafe for the best lobster roll in town. Bobby Flay will tell you, after he lost a throwdown in 2009 to local chef Lynn Archer!
At Camden Hills State Park you can hike or drive up Mount Battie for panoramic views of Penobscot Bay.