Two seaside inns raise the bar with new suites that seamlessly blend luxury with smart design
Maine lures vacationers back summer after summer, offering the perfect dose of tranquility to calm the most frazzled city dwellers. The process of finding just the right accommodations to reinforce that vision can be a tedious task. We all cherish those accrued vacation days, and want our stay to be as unblemished as possible. If you want to bask in well-designed luxury, two recently renovated inns have added another reason to unwind at their establishments with the addition of high-end suites that effortlessly mix convenience and technology with natural beauty.
Camden Harbour Inn
The Camden Harbour Inn has been welcoming travelers to coastal Maine since the 1800s. In 2007 Dutch natives Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest purchased the Victorian inn on a small hilltop in Camden village with sweeping views of Penobscot Bay. Brunyanszki, a hotel industry veteran, and Verest, a pharmacist back in the Netherlands, undertook a two-million-dollar renovation to bring the space into the twenty-first century. The result is a plush interior with cutting-edge design. A beautiful old staircase leads guests from the lobby up to the 20 bedchambers, each named after a famous port of the Dutch East India Company. Last June the duo renovated the old innkeeper’s living quarters and added two new luxury suites to the existing 18 rooms. The larger of the two suites, the Royal Dutch, is over 800 square feet and includes two fireplaces and a private balcony; doors to the adjoining room can easily convert it into a two-bedroom. The slightly smaller Surinam suite has all the amenities of the Royal Dutch except the second fireplace. Both suites are filled with bright, clean midcentury modern and contemporary design pieces that perfectly blend with the paintings by Maine artist David Estey. “We wanted to bring something different to Maine; we didn’t want those flowery wallpapers or squeaky beds,” says Brunyanszki. They found the decor and group breakfasts at run-of-the-mill B&Bs uncomfortable. In the two suites, they included high-design pieces by heavy hitters like Kartell and Hans Wegner blended with pieces from Mitchell Gold and even IKEA. Guests have every amenity within their grasp: multiple flat-screen TVs, iPads, a Bose SoundDock system and an iPod Nano loaded with music, and an Illy espresso machine designed by Francis Francis.
Brunyanszki headed up the design of both suites himself, with some sourcing assistance from interior designer Annie Kiladjian. of Annie K Designs. The spaces are filled with clever design choices, like individually controlled lights inset in the ceiling over the bed. “We made a big effort to get it centered on the pillow but slightly in front of you,” says Brunyanszki. That way one person can sleep and the other can read. Relaxing browns and neutral tones were selected for the bathrooms to reinforce the feeling of serenity. The bathrooms are mini-spas, with light therapy in the saunas, heated floors, steam showers, and Jacuzzi tubs, along with robes and plush towels and Molton Brown bath products.
In need of a libation while you get ready for dinner downstairs at award-winning Natalie’s restaurant? There’s no need to go anywhere; the bar in your room is fully stocked. This is the first inn in Maine to include liquor in its minibars, says Brunyanszki. “They had to create a minibar tax just for us.”
In addition to the new suites, all of the bathrooms of the oceanside executive rooms and junior suites were renovated by Phi Home Designs to include tubs by Victoria + Albert, separate steam and rain showers, and Kohler tub and shower combinations. The baths are finished with a combination of natural stone, glass tile, and 3-D wall decoration and fitted with flat-screen televisions.
Inn By The Sea
The Inn by the Sea is located on Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth, about seven miles south of bustling Portland. Its beautiful coastal landscape, which also happens to be a designated wildlife habitat, has been the inspiration for not only the inn’s design but also its commitment to sustainability. In 2008 the inn underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation, a collaboration between TFH Architects (who originally brought the Inn by the Sea to life over 20 years ago) and Canada-based interior design firm Moncur Design Associates. All of the rooms were revamped in hues of red, cognac, and charcoal, with smatterings of maple furnishings. The team did an intensive eco-upgrade throughout the inn. They added a LEED Silver–certified organic spa where guests can indulge in treatments like the hot Casco Bay stone massage. The Inn by the Sea prides itself on its ability to blend luxury with a variety of eco-friendly initiatives: biofuel and solar panels are used to heat the inn and pool, recycled rubber floors line the gym’s cardio room, and the spa has recycled Sheetrock walls. Last summer TFH Architects and Moncur Design teamed up again to add new beach suites to the property.
The new three-story building with façades finished in the classic shingle style has breathtaking views of sandy beaches and Atlantic vistas and is a stone’s throw from the inn’s private boardwalk down to Crescent Beach. This new building replaces a cluster of outdated cottages from the inn’s original construction. The one- and two-bedroom suites all have unobstructed ocean views from the living rooms, along with gas-burning fireplaces and private decks or balconies. They feel like private beach cottages with all of the comforts of home—a fully equipped kitchen, dishwasher, full-size refrigerator, Henckels chef’s knives, Cuisinart cookware, iPod docking station, Jacuzzi tubs, walk-in closets, and dual vanity sinks. They’re perfect for multigenerational families; adjoining doors on the second and third floors create three- and four-bedroom configurations, allowing groups to have the entire floor to themselves. Interior designer Robynne Moncur selected a fresh, nautical palette of red, taupe, and charcoal with flashes of turquoise throughout the suite. Old fleet ships were her inspiration. Wooden decks are translated into mahogany-veneer floors, the round mirror in the kitchen recalls a captain’s wheel, and hanging glass light fixtures are reminiscent of the bell lanterns aboard those vessels. The natural coastal backdrop is transported inside through the use of teak and wicker furnishings, limited-edition prints depicting highlights from Portland’s maritime history, and carved wooden birds scattered like those on the shore. “It looks like a collection an individual owner would have accrued over time, as opposed to having someone like myself come in, and poof there it is,” says Moncur. Inn by the Sea is a home away from home, but with luxury around every corner.