Friday, August 15, 2008

My favorite B&B

Every year, the Maine Lobster Festival runs from Wednesday to Sunday to include the first Sunday in August. Well, that's how I *think* it goes every year, based on the two years I've known about it.

Last year we decided to go on the spur of the moment, and we couldn't find a nearby place to stay. I finally found a room at a bed-and-breakfast located forty minutes from the festival grounds. We loved that B&B so much that we booked it again for the 2008 Festival season.

Last year we went to the Festival on a Saturday, and this year we went on a Wednesday. Next year I'm hoping to go on BOTH Wednesday and Saturday. I think those days are the best days of the Festival because Wednesday is the first day of the Festival and they allow everyone in for free. All the other days you have to pay like $8 or $10 per person to get in; that's in addition to the money you spend on lobster and other stuff inside the Festival. And then Saturday is a pretty good day because they have lots of musical performances all day long. There's some music on each day really, but Saturday it runs non-stop and you can go from stage to stage and see all kinds of different musical stuff.

The Festival isn't a huge one. It doesn't feel too crowded to me. We find that in four leisurely hours there, we eat lots of perfectly-cooked lobster (only $38 for a triple lobster dinner!), eat a few other "festival food" items (like fried candy bars!), visit all the exhibits twice, buy a couple things, watch a performance or two, and by then we're ready to grab a beverage and go home. But despite its modest size, I love it.

I also love the unique experience of staying at a B&B. My discovery of the Festival last year was also my discovery of this type of lodging. I thought all B&B's were as awesome as Maple Hill Farm. On this year's trip however, I found out that some B&B's are "just okay." We stayed at a B&B near Bar Harbor, Maine for the second half of our vacation. It was a perfectly nice place, not particularly bad. But it was lacking some of the thoughtful touches that we love about Maple Hill Farm. We thought that these touches were unique to the B&B style; we didn't realize they were unique to Maple Hill Farm!

Here is a list of things that make Maple Hill Farm special to me:
- Huge 200+ acres to explore
- Green energy: solar panels and a wind turbine and accompanying gauges that we can gawk at right onsite
- Other green decisions too, like how most food scraps get fed to the chickens, and how shower supplies are served up in bulk pumps instead of little travel-size bottles
- Large inviting common areas
- Interesting and personable innkeepers Scott & Vince
- Working farm with funny llamas
- Delicious (and consistent) breakfast choices
- Free from light pollution makes for awesome stargazing
- Full bar service
- Separate kitchen facilities for B&B guests to refrigerate things, and supplied with travel mugs, silverware, barware, cookies, and always a surprise treat to eat
- Gourmet coffee flowing hot and fresh and free all day long
- Located in Hallowell and next to the state capital Augusta: towns that are small enough to feel small, but not so small that they're boring. Perfecly sized for our tastes.

The Bar Harbor B&B didn't have any of those things above. Not one! Since I'm such a picky eater, it was tough for me to accept a surprise "innkeeper's cooking experiment" greeting me each morning. This B&B did have its good points, I'll admit, but it's hard to remember those when I'm comparing the two places.

I'm sure every B&B owner would tell me that it's not entirely fair to compare one B&B to another. Each one has its own feel and flavor, with its own unique features. I agree with that completely, but I think that every B&B, regardless of its individuality, should have an abundance of "thoughtful touches." Things that give guests a genuine home-like feeling. Otherwise it just feels like a really nice hostel!

We've already booked our 2009 dates at the Maple Hill Farm.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Maybe we can join you next year. This place sounds wonderful. -E