Written by Elizabeth McNamara, Preservation Magazine assistant editor
While Washington, D.C. continued to make extreme heat milestones, my husband and I dashed north to Maine, seeking relief from the Beltway’s record-breaking weather. And relief we did get, for two nights at the Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport, which was settled in the 1600s as a trading town. Later, the town was well known for its shipyard.
We arrived at the hotel after dark, following a day spent with friends in Boston. The historic hotel is located on Ocean Avenue, where the Kennebunk River opens to the Atlantic Ocean. We couldn’t see the ocean, but we could feel its salty breezes.
Opened in 1914, the Colony Hotel is a family-run hotel that welcomes guests from mid-May through October. It was illuminated by spotlights in the early evening, and the white wooden structure capped with a cupola was a welcoming sight following the hour-and-a-half drive up I-95. Today, the hotel is a member of the Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
A bellhop greeted us at the door to the lobby, which was furnished with clusters of deep leather armchairs, decorated with nautical paintings, and anchored by a large-patterned floral carpet. We took our keys—not key cards!—from the concierge and a guest and her leashed dog trotted by.
“Next time we are bringing the dog,” I told my husband.
Our accommodations were small, but cozy and clean. There was no air-conditioning unit in our room, so we opened the windows, and no television—a welcome reprieve from our iPad-, iPhone-, iEverything-infused lives.
The next morning we skipped the Colony’s complimentary breakfast and hit the road to explore the village of Kennebunkport. The hotel is less than one mile from Dock Square, the town center, so it wasn’t long before we were eating blueberry crepes and drinking freshly brewed coffee. After breakfast, we explored the quaint, historic downtown, peering in the windows of its many storefronts. Then we drove north on Ocean Avenue, bordering the coastline. From the rocky shores we spotted President George H. W. Bush’s summer residence, Walker’s Point, which is less than a mile from The Colony, and then took a long hike near the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.
In the late afternoon we headed back to the hotel to sit by the saltwater swimming pool. A waitress from the hotel’s Marine Bar took drink orders and we enjoyed the warm sun and sea views. A group of children putted on the 18-hole putting green while their families looked on from the hotel’s wide, wrap-around porch, which spans 300 feet.
We let the day slip quietly away before enjoying lobsters for dinner. It was the perfect ending to a perfect stay.
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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.