Forbes- April 2019
by Laura Manske
If you crave travel seduction on your vacation — the sublime feeling of falling in love with an oasis of natural beauty, welcome ambiance, easy relaxation, endearing surprises and pampering details — then Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, will turn your head and fill your heart. Ideal for indulging both romantic couples and frolicking families, this year-round retreat is an especially desirable getaway in summer. There is much to woo you here
SEA-KISSED LOCATION This eco-luxury hideaway on five idyllic acres — south of Portland on the Maine coast — brims with seaside gardens, rabbit and bird sanctuaries and an inviting boardwalk that opens to generous, pristine, sandy Crescent Beach along 12 miles of shoreline fringing Casco Bay, itself famous for harboring two lighthouses, one of which is immortalized in Edward Hopper's painting "Lighthouse Hill."
ROOM TO ROMP Choose the optimum space to unwind. Multi-bedroom suites, traditional guest rooms and cottages feature oversize bathrooms. Some units are replete with full kitchens, dining areas and living rooms, as well as fireplaces. Housekeeping utilizes non-toxic Green Seal products.
DELECTABLE DISHES Award-winning executive chef Andrew Chadwick of the inn's Sea Glass restaurant is a gifted culinary maverick, brainstorming innovative recipes that not only supremely satisfy but also stretch kitchen imagination, showcasing top ingredients presented in contemporary, lively, unique ways. He builds colors, textures and layers on plates like an artist orchestrates paintings.
"It’s all about the guest," explains Chadwick, who, along with executive sous chef Trent Seib, fashions dining "experiences that generate memories to last a lifetime. To do that," he continues, "we start with amazing ingredients — the freshest, best-tasting ingredients, locally grown, caught, foraged or made by area farmers, cheesemakers and fishermen. And that is also where the best background stories on sourcing are: Whether we procure food from the three-generation farming family at Alewive's Brook Farm just up the street or serve abundant, lesser-known seafood to help support our local fishermen and environment. For example, our most popular dish is Lobster Tacos. Our lobster is hauled by neighboring fishermen. Guests can see the lobster boats bobbing on the horizon from the Sea Glass windows."
"Being a boutique resort, our challenge is to create menus that cater to every guest," continues Chadwick. "Menus change seasonally, about six times a year, so we can best utilize whatever is in season. We also have a vegan offering every night, which has turned out to be just as popular with carnivores as guests who are dedicated to plant-based diets! My overriding motto is to create food for all — and have fun doing it!" The wine cellar of more than 300 labels and 2,500 bottles has been awarded Wine Spectator’s "Best of Award of Excellence." Sea Glass manager Donald Linscott stirs up spirited moves with mixology lessons. The bar staff rolls out lavish cocktails, such as Fireside Cider (homemade apple cider, vanilla butter and Sebago Lake Distillery Spider Island rum) and Manzanita (mezcal, tequila, apple purée, ginger beer, chipotle and anise).
ECO-DIVERSIONS Stretch happily into each day at free morning yoga on the expansive green lawn. Head gardener Derrick Daly leads eye-opening walks to the Great Pond to spy wildlife as well as to better appreciate the on-site gardens blooming with indigenous flowers and plants.
Join a naturalist from the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust for in-depth exploration of Crescent Beach, where in high and low tides you can discover birds, fish, hermit crabs and learn about the ecology and wonder of Cape Elizabeth. Fly-fish with instructors from L.L. Bean. Kayak through nearby nature preserves and bird-watch with Audubon guides.
Whale-watch, kite-fly, sail on a schooner, play golf nearby. Relish a foodie and micro-beer tour in Portland’s Old Port and shop artisanal downtown boutiques. Borrow family-cruising bikes for a spin to area lighthouses and The Lobster Shack (which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year). At Inn by the Sea, the children's program spotlights a Bug’s Life Tour — part eco-education and part arts-and-crafts projects. Kids often grow wide-eyed over the inn’s “Rabitat” and nectar gardens for endangered wildlife. In the late afternoon, roast decadent s’mores at the fire pit, where a guitarist often entertains.
FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS An open-armed Dog Days at the Inn initiative attracts canine-lovers. Pets are embraced with complimentary stays in designated pet-friendly oceanfront rooms and suites, receiving water bowls, beach towels, blankets and organic Growlin' Gourmet biscuits at turn-down service. Specialty pet menus, doggie day care and animal spa massage are available, too. On outside decks or in the fireplace lounge, dogs can accompany their owners at meals. Inn by the Sea also fosters dogs on-site through the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland — and an astounding 141 dogs have been adopted by inn guests.
JUST SAY "SPA-AHH!" At the full-service, go-green spa, opt for a signature Sea Waves massage, featuring an undulating motion bed with synchronized massage strokes and surf surround sound. Natural marine-based treatment products are formulated with local ingredients such as algae, sea salt and Maine mud. The spa is outfitted in recycled sheetrock walls and with bamboo towels; the cardio-fitness room is blanketed in recycled rubber floors.
A member of Preferred Hotel & Resort Hotels’ L.V.X Collection, Inn by the Sea also has earned Silver LEED® certifications.
Manske has visited most US states, 80+ countries and 70+ ships. She believes in the power of travel to transform, inspire and unite us. Instagram @TravelWithLauraManske
The Maine Thing: How Inn by the Sea Can Seduce You