Kennebunkport Maine - The Colony Hotel
-Article by: Norm Goldman
-Paintings by: Lily Azerad-Goldman
In 1870 four gentlemen from Arlington Massachusetts boarded a train to Kennebunkport Maine. Their mission was to purchase land for the building of a summer resort.
While dining in the tiny village of Saco, the foursome met a fellow by the name of Enoch Cousens of Kennebunk, who overheard their discussion and suggested that they follow him to the Port where they would be shown acres of high ground along the ocean.
Well, you know the old saying, location, location, location is what counts when building a hotel, and Cousens knew what he was talking about. Eventually, the quartet of Samuel Damon, Richard Hodgen, Charles Goodwin, and John Townsend Trowbridge together with a fifth investor, Charles Hodgden, formed the Sea Shore Company and purchased 700 acres covering five miles of shore from Cape Porpoise to Lord's Point in Kennebunk.
Ironically, the local owners at the time considered the land to be worthless, as it offered no safe havens for fishing boats, and furthermore it had little value for pastureland or farming.
It was within this area in 1873 on a rock at the mouth of the Kennebunk River that the first hotel, the Ocean Bluff, was built, and it was this hotel that eventually became the forerunner of the present day The Colony Hotel.
Originally the hotel was a four-story wooden structure which could accommodate up to 200 guests. The room and board rate at the time was $3.00 per day, and as advertised, patrons could enjoy unsurpassed cuisine and also first class accommodations.
Unfortunately, the Ocean Bluff burned down on February 9th, 1898 and it was only in 1914 that another hotel was erected, the Breakwater Court. In 1948 the hotel was purchased by George Broughton, who renamed it, The Colony Hotel.
George and his wife Agnes have since passed away and the hotel is now owned by their daughter, Jestena.
A member of Historic Hotels of America, today's hotel has maintained its old fashion and easy going romantic charm with its white wooden exteriors, wraparound veranda with a gazebo, wooden window frames, wood floors, and antique furnishings. The building spans a full 300 feet that is topped by a cupola and weather vane of a large ship.
Evidently, the hotel's distinct silhouette is visible from both land and sea, serving as a landmark for seafaring vessels for decades and as a benchmark for all coastal hotels in the state.
The hotel's 124 smoke-free rooms spread over three buildings are quite roomy, and well furnished, with some pieces that impart a mood akin to that which must have been experienced many years ago.
Be sure to book one of the Ocean Grand rooms with its king size beds and incredible view, if you are in the hunt for the ultimate in a romantic getaway.
Perhaps, the most delightful activity my wife and I enjoyed while vacationing at the hotel was just sitting in one of the rocking chairs on the expansive verandah, sipping the hotel's traditional complimentary afternoon tea and munching on scrumptious cookies, while soaking up the southwest breeze of the salt air of the Atlantic Ocean. Due to the easterly curve of the coastline where the hotel sits, there is a southwest breeze from the ocean that blows year round. It appears that the ocean cools the breeze in the spring and summer and warms it in the fall and winter.
Of course, not to be left out is the incredible outdoor salt water swimming pool that has a stunning view of the ocean, and there is more than enough room to sunbathe or read.
In a few words, it is the blending of beauty, comfort and personality that gives The Colony that special quality evoking the golden age of travel, when only the well-to-do and genteel traveler had the opportunity to summer along the coastline of southern Maine.
It is little wonder that its faithful guests often feel like long-lost family, returning to a special place that many visited when they were children. Perhaps, even bringing along with them their own children and pets, who, incidentally, are most welcome.
By the way, if you do decide to bring along your pet, there is a $25 per pet daily fee. A pet blanket is placed on the bed in your room for your pets use. If you would like to purchase one, they are available in the gift shop. Pets are not permitted in the dinning room, however, they are permitted poolside but not in the pool, and they must be leashed at all times.
Guests take pleasure in a wealth of recreational facilities as a putting green, croquet, badminton, and shuffleboard. Nature lovers can enjoy the bird habitat program or the self-guided scavenger hunt-ideal for families. There are also art exhibitions, and entertainment in the ballroom during the summer months.
Venturing out of the hotel grounds you will come across tennis at the Kennebunk River Club, golf, parasailing, sailing, fishing, boating, lobster and whale watching excursions, art galleries, antiquing, and a sightseeing trolley. Shoppers can even indulge in outlet shopping in Kittery-just a short drive from the hotel.
Theatre lovers have much to choose between the Arundel Barn Playhouse and the Ogunquit Playhouse-both presenting superior plays and professional acting at its best.
The hotel is a brisk one-mile walk to historic Dock Square, a picturesque village of art galleries, boutique shops and several restaurants.
Ideal Wedding Destination
With the combination of its spectacular manicured lawn and ocean views, you have the perfect ingredients for a casually elegant wedding at The Colony.
What more could you ask for then the backdrop of a gorgeous organic garden, a stunning view of the Ocean and chic dining facilities. You can also have a pre-dinner cocktail reception on the hotel's wrap around veranda, known as the Oceanside Porch.
We had the good fortune of witnessing a ceremony that could only be described as picture perfect, including the weather; however, there was only one hitch, when the minister asked the maid of honor for the groom's ring, she became all flustered and confessed she had forgotten it in her room. Although embarrassing, this did not hold up the ceremony for too long, as the blushing sister of the bride ran upstairs to her room and in no time returned with her future brother-in-law's ring. No doubt, this is one of the great advantages of having a wedding in the same hotel you are staying at, although I don't recommend you forget either the bride or groom's ring.
The Colony Hotel
More on Kennebunkport