Posts tagged ‘Bass Harbor’

November 28, 2010

Bass Harbor, Maine, Ready for Winter

I love trees with bare branches.  Beaches in winter.  Fishing villages off season. 

Bass Harbor is one such village.  Located on the southwestern portion of Mount Desert Island, it’s one of the most lucrative lobster-producing ports in Maine.  I was there in late October and the streets were empty.  

 

That’s not the case in the summertime when cars loaded with kayaks and trucks ready to load lobsters line up for the ferry to Swan’s Island.  Boat builders head to work at Morris Yachts.  Vacationers swing into the driveways of harborside condos, including the local success story for Maine Preservation, Underwood Wharf (below left), once the largest sardine cannery in Maine.  

But in October it’s even still across the harbor in Bernard, home of my favorite lobster pound, Thurston’s

 

Although seafood purveyor C. H. Rich is open year-round, the wharf is quiet. 

 

The buoys are off duty. 

Skiffs and traps are taking a break.

 

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July 9, 2010

Second Life as an Innkeeper in Maine

In the movies the harried corporate executive buys a B&B in New England, starts a successful mail order business, and lives happily ever after. 

If you have ever visited a B&B on the Maine coast – or plan to this summer – you may wonder if innkeepers’ lives are as sweet as the chocolate-drizzled banana French toast they serve for breakfast.  For one couple, the route to Mount Desert Island, which annually lures over two million visitors to Acadia National Park, had as many switchbacks as a park hiking trail.

Alan Feuer, who today owns Ann’s Point Inn on Bass Harbor, says,  “I taught computer science at Northeastern and ran a company that offers specialized search engines.  My wife Jeannette worked at the Museum of Science in Boston.  When our youngest finished college, we decided it was time to sell our 120-year-old Victorian in the city and try something different.” 

The couple commenced a nationwide search to meet an exacting set of standards for a property.  According to Alan, they wanted a spectacular setting in an interesting community with high-quality amenities like excellent grocers and restaurants.  Because they had already had an old house in Boston, they decided to look for a property of contemporary design and construction.  They focused on inns with fewer than five rooms so that they could really meet their guests.  And they wanted a seasonal enterprise that would give them time to themselves.

 The search for the ideal property took the Feuers to the central California coast, the Southwest, islands off the Southeast, and Cape Cod.  They spent a year looking, then they saw Ann’s Point Inn on Mount Desert Island.

 Sitting on two acres at the end of a peninsula on Bass Harbor, this lovely B&B had four luxurious guest rooms with water views, an indoor heated pool, a Finnish sauna, a jet-filled hot tub, and nearly 700 feet of private shoreline.  And there wasn’t a fussy Victorian wreath or lace pillow in sight.

 Not only did it meet all of their criteria, but, as Alan said, “MDI had always been in the back of our minds.  We’d been going there on and off for 30 years.  Acadia is one of our favorite places.”

 Finding the property was only the beginning.  Alan’s dream was “luxury with a low-carbon footprint.”  That meant adding a solar pool heater and 3500 watts of electricity generation using solar panels.  They also redesigned their central courtyard and built three new decks and patios.

 The Feuers approached innkeeping with confidence because they’d always done a lot of entertaining.  Alan hooked up a Quickmill espresso machine to perfect his cappucino technique.  Jeannette began preparing breakfast not once, but three times a day to test recipes. 

Foodies flock to Mount Desert Island because of its inventive restaurants that focus on seasonal ingredients, seafood, and local produce. Jeannette started experimenting with some of these for her three-course breakfasts, which include herbs and produce from her garden as well as local eggs and seafood. Alan has added a refreshment hour in the late afternoon featuring Seal Cove goat cheese, a favorite mead from Bartlett Winery he pairs with roasted apricots, and honey ale from Atlantic Brewing.   

Does Ann’s Point Inn attract any particular type of visitor?  “Many are celebrating some special occasion.  That puts them in a wonderful state-of-mind.  I think everyone is enchanted by the beauty of the island. Hiking, kayaking, and eating lobster are among the most popular activities.” 

With satisfied guests and the perfect setting, it seems the one final element of the equation for innkeeper happiness is the mail order business.  “I still run the search engine business that I started in Boston,” Alan grins, “I guess that qualifies as Web mail order.”

To learn more about things to do in Acadia National Park and the best times to visit Mount Desert Island, visit OUR ACADIA.

August 25, 2009

“How Much Time Do We Need to See Acadia National Park in Maine?”

Coast lineThis is a frequently asked question among first-time visitors to New England, especially those who fly into Boston and want a “representative sample” of the scenic villages and ports along the Maine Coast. 

Who can blame them for wanting to see it all? 

“Breadth” vs. “depth” becomes the issue. 

Depending upon what kind of vacation you want to create for yourself, here’s an activity log for three different levels of time availability.  Think about what activities you most enjoy, how much “down time” you need, and if you want to incorporate outdoor adventures or time at the beach (or for shopping).  The amount of time you need for Acadia should then become clear!  

Three Days 

  •  Drive the Park Loop Road, taking in the key sights such as Frenchman Bay, Ocean Trail, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, and Jordan Pond
  • Hike a trail from among the 130 miles of stunning, well-maintained routes on the island.  Consider Jordan Pond as a starting point so that you can efficiently include lunch or tea (popovers, lemonade, chowder) at Jordan Pond House
  • Visit the “Quietside,” being sure to see Somes Sound, Somesville, Echo Lake, Bass Harbor Headlight, and the fishing village of Bass Harbor
  • Have dinner at Thurston’s Lobster Pound in Bernard on the “Quietside”  

One  Week

  •  Add in a sea kayaking tour – great from Bar Harbor in the morning, Southwest Harbor for sunset
  • Take a horse-drawn carriage drive from Wildwood Stables, an Acadia tradition
  • Shop in Bar Harbor and explore the waterfront 

Two Weeks

  • Bike along any of Acadia’s 57 miles of scenic carriage roads
  • Attend a ranger-led program, whether it’s to explore tidal pools or learn more about birds of prey
  • Take a boat ride with Diver Ed in the Starfish Enterprise  or in a romantic, historic Friendship Sloop
  • Work in a second hike on another part of the island – the views and terrain are so varied!
  • Visit the village of Southwest Harbor to shop and have a lobster roll and blueberry pie
  • Seek out a Maine public supper or flea market — and enjoy the company of locals
  • Schedule a family rock-climbing expedition
  • Visit an oceanarium with touch tanks to see marine life up close and personal
  • Attend a tour of one of Mount Desert Island’s award-winning local breweries
  • Take a nap on Sand Beach or at Echo Lake

Dining out is a big part of visiting Acadia.  The island’s eateries range from chic tapas bars to lobster pounds in the rough.  You may also want to picnic on a mountaintop or cook-out seaside.  Regardless, where to eat should be planned as part of your itinerary because you want to make getting around this 100-square-mile island most efficient.  Consult OUR ACADIA for reviews of the best places to eat.

OUR ACADIA also features recommendations for sea kayaking tours, kayaking rentals, bike rentals, and rock-climbing guides.  You may want to make reservations in advance, especially in the busiest vacation seasons.