Come summer, or fall, there’s no better place to be than Maine. I grew up in Vacationland, so perhaps I’m biased, but, it’s hard to argue with warm salt air breezes, overstuffed lobster rolls, and coastal scenery that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into a postcard. And while there are some great seaside spots to stay in the Pine Tree State, few come close to offering what Inn by the Sea does—especially for families.
I recently checked into the Cape Elizabeth property with my husband and almost-two-year-old daughter as a way to decompress from a larger family gathering, get in some rare beach time, nose around Portland (just 7 miles away), and see first-hand what may be Maine’s first luxury suites designed with families in mind.
The opening of the 2012 summer season marked the unveiling of the Inn’s 10 new one- and two-bedroom ocean-view suites ("Beach Suites"). Facing the Atlantic with chic outdoor seating areas (some with indoor-outdoor fireplaces), the massive suites are separated from the rest of the property, but still just an easy walk to Crescent Beach, the pool, restaurant, yoga classes on the Great Lawn, and the inn’s wonderful spa, featuring Maine-inspired treatments such as seaweed milk baths for tired tootsies. The set-up is pretty ideal; you have access to all the facilities and activities, but you feel as if you have your own secluded space for a time—a place for you and your kids to call your own.
The suites themselves are attractive and modern, blending warm woods, clean lines, and a mix of smart fabric, all complemented by Maine art, punches of color, and fun kitschy details such as porcelain owl lamps. They are comfortable but also have a design POV (a rarity Downeast)—and are relatively impervious to the ramblings of a curious toddler.
Each suite has a master marble bath as big as some New York City apartments, sleek flat-screen televisions, the latest iPod docking station, and a fireplace, no doubt soon be in heavy rotation as the leaves change. Perhaps the best family-friendly feature, however, is the full kitchens, ideal for a DIY clambake or a quickie bowl of pasta. I loved how everything—I mean everything—I needed to whip up a meal was at my fingertips: cutting boards, sharp chef’s knife, toaster, Cuisinart cookware, even a blender. And some suites can even be joined to create compounds with as many as four bedrooms.
Another great selling point for me about the Inn is its best-of-both-worlds location, with farm stands, hidden coves, and Maine’s picturesque Portland Head Light just down the road, and all that the exciting city of Portland has to offer—buzzy restaurants, a world-class art museum, only-in-Maine shops, and ferries to islands beyond—just few miles further.
I’m already planning our next trip North to take in Maine’s brilliant foliage (what better way to teach your toddler her colors?). I hope to see you there.
Adrien Glover is the deputy digital editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photos courtesy of Inn by the Sea