Tuesday January 12, 2010
Downeast Holiday Planning
TIME TO START MAKING PLANS
I must admit that the phone and online reservation activity in November and December was unusually quiet. Other innkeepers told me they had the same experiences. I guess everyone was busy with the holidays, work at end-of-year and family. Go figure!
With the advent of the New Year, the phone has started ringing and online book activity has REALLY picked up. Once it warms up in Florida and other areas of the US Deep South, folks there will start thinking of escaping the coming summer heat. DON'T WAIT TOO LONG TO MAKE YOUR PLANS FOR THE SEASON IN BAR HARBOR AT THE BASS COTTAGE INN. Last year we had several 'regulars' who waited too long and were sadly shut out of the dates they wanted. Don't let this happen to you. Call us at 866-782-9224 or make your bookings online via our secure website: www.basscottage.com.
TRAVEL PLANNING ADVICE FOR COASTAL MAINE FIRST TIMERS
If you really want to sample the stunning beauty and diversity of the Maine coast, allow yourselves 7-10 days and don't rush. So many people on their first visit to Bar Harbor and Acadia only plan on one day...what can you really see?? Here's my advice --
Bar Harbor / Bass Cottage Inn (3-4 days) -- start here and work your way down the rocky coast. Spend a couple of loosely-structured days in Acadia National Park. Get out on the water with a whale watch or kayak excursion. Poke around Mount Desert Island and see the quiet villages and lighthouses. Be sure to have 3 great dinners and the ultimate lobsterbake experience.
Camden/Rockland (1-2 days) -- not as much to do here as in Bar Harbor, but definitely worth a visit. Camden has a lovely harbor and quaint shops. Rockland has the Farnsworth Museum with its extensive Wyeth collection as well as nearby Owl's Head Transportation Museum (planes, trains and automobiles!).
Kennebunkport/Ogunquit (3-4 days) -- southern Maine (often referred to as "Northern Massachusetts" by wise-buy downeasters) has a dramatically different coastline (wide sandy beaches) and quaint villages. You can actually swim in the ocean down there. Who knew? Some of the Northeast's best restaurants are to be found in K'port, Ogunquit and nearby Portland's "Old Port" district.
We're happy to make recommendations for elsewhere in Maine when you call to book at The Bass Cottage Inn.
GETTING HERE AND GETTING AROUND
Many folks fly into Boston and, as discussed above, shoot up to Bar Harbor and bounce down the coast. It's an easy 5 hour drive from Boston to Bar Harbor. Taking Rt. 1 along the coast is not a scenic as you'd think since that road is 3--4 miles inland.
You can also fly into Bangor (BGR) which puts you only 48 miles from our front door. OR, connect through Boston on US Air Express to Bar Harbor Airport (BHB) which is only 8 miles from the inn. Both airports have all the 'mod cons' like car rental counters.
Some folks fly into Portland or Manchester New Hampshire and are surprised to find themselves still 3-4 hours away from Bar Harbor, so be advised!
WHEN TO COME
Each month during our 6 month operating season at The Bass Cottage Inn has its own appeal.
May - the quietest month with the lowest rates of the season. Be there to see the trees bud and turn green overnight. Mostly all restaurants and area attractions are open...but this is a good time to come for a quiet romantic weekend!
June - quiet in the first half of the month with good weather. Everything in Bar Harbor and the national park is open. We usually fill up starting in the second half of June so plan now.
July, August -- the peak of high season and the Inn ends up being 99% booked because this is the best weather of the year. While this is the busiest part of the season, don't expect much hustle and bustle at the Inn thanks to our peaceful location in The Field.
September - the big secret is that the most glorious weather happens in September. A great time to come. Leaves usually start to change in the last week of the month with peak color in....
...October -- the first half of the month usually still has very balmy weather, the reds and golds of autumn foliage set up nicely against the crisp blue sky and the Atlantic. In the last couple of weeks before we close on October 31 you can enjoy great room rates and romantic peace and quiet.
See you in Maine this summah.
Thursday January 7, 2010
Through the Maine Woods....and other happy new year musings
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM DOWNEAST MAINE
Teri and I just spent a wonderful and quiet holiday season on Mount Desert Island. We enjoyed hiking in the snowy woods, reading, listening to lots of music and spending some recreational time in the kitchen --- all a part of an innkeeper's off season regimen.
After a great New Year's Eve spent in Boston with friends, we've retreated to winter semi-hibernation as the cold and snow are settling in. Of course, post-holiday means going on a diet (something I've needed to do for a while....now I'm serious -- Day 6 on Weight Watchers and doing great, thank you.)
The off season gives us time to plan improvements for the upcoming season at The Bass Cottage Inn. You'll see some changes in the rooms, on your plate and amongst the staff...but more details on all those topics in upcoming blogs. So stay tuned!!
The New Year means, among other things, lots of lists. So, here's a round up of what we've been listening to at home during the past few months:
Neko Case "Middle Cyclone" -- The new darling of the 'alt-country' set, her lyrics are anything but rote. Her music challenges you with notes you don't expect. Backed by Assembly of Dust and Calexico. This one is on may critics' best of lists of 2009 and we know why.
Levon Helm "Electric Dirt" -- Formerly of The Band, Helm had to learn how to sing all over again after a bout of throat cancer. On this album, his voice is powerful, unique and so American. Lots of great cover versions. Check it out.
Stefano Bollani Trio "Stone In The Water" - Bollani hails from Italy (where he's also a comedian of all things). His sidemen come from Denmark. This piano jazz trio produces some lovely, crystal note jazz. Highly recommended.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "The Live Anthology" - I've never seen a bad live show...this album captures LOTS of great concert performances from over the years. The recording is top notch, the band is tight. They even cover Booker T's Green Onions and the theme from Goldfinger.
Buika (with Chucho Valdes) "El Ultimo Trago" - Chucho Valdes is the outstanding classically-trained Latin Jazz pianist from Cuba. But who is Buika?? She's from Africa, sings in Spanish and once performed in Vegas as a Tina Turner impersonator. Intrigued? The album is like a smokey night club performance.
Pat Metheny "Upojenie" -- recorded a few years ago with Polish vocalist Anna Maria Jopek and just recently released in the US. Since I don't understand Polish, I view Ms. Jopek's voice as an instrument - a very good one at that. Pat is excellent as usual.
Sting "If on a Winter's Night..." - the alternative Christmas album. This one played over and over for during the holidays. (Teri LOVES Sting)
Allen Toussaint "The Bright Mississippi" - the reknown New Orleans R&B maestro puts together a great album of straight-ahead jazz. (Jeff LOVES Allen Toussaint)
See you next time!
Tuesday December 15, 2009
Last mimute gift idea: Bass Cottage Inn Gift Certificate
Give A Downeast Maine Escape This Holiday Season
Instead of a a tie, sweater or basket of fruit why not give your friends and family something truly unique and special: A stay at Bar Harbor's premier luxury inn.
If you've stayed with us before you know what it's like to wake up relaxed and restored in your elegant guest room, ready to enjoy a gourmet breakfast and a day exploring one of the most beautiful places in America - Acadia National Park.
Giving a Bass Cottage Inn Gift Certificate couldn't be easier but time is running out if you want it to arrive for the holidays. Simply call us at 866-782-9224 or visit our website to order:
Here's wishing you and your family all the best during this holiday season and the new year to come.
Tuesday December 15, 2009
A great holiday cookie recipe from The Bass Cottage Inn
Recipe: Chocolate Peppermint Snaps
One of our more popular new afternoon treats this season were these wonderful, chocolate-y, minty cookies. Chef Chris is always looking for new recopies and found this one in the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. (King Arthur unbleached flour is the official flour of The Bass Cottage Inn, by the way.). Make 'em for your holiday treats! Makes 6 dozen.
- 1 1/2 cups butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla
- 4 tsp peppermint extract
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chis OR white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two baking sheets with cooking spray. Cream together the butter and sugars in a large bowl. (Use a stand mixer if you wish). Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Mix in vanilla and peppermint extract. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, beating to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Using a spoon, drop a spoonful for each cookie onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly dark around the edge. Remove from oven and cool on rack. ENJOY!
Monday November 30, 2009
The Sugar Mill, Tortiola: An Innkeepers's Peaceful Escape
(Periodically during our off-season we'll share with you OUR travels and give you tips about some great destinations. Check back from time to time.)
Each year after we close we escape work and cold weather and (usually) visit Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. We love Tortola because the weather is great (better than Maine in November, to be sure), the island is welcoming, the snorkeling is fantastic and the atmosphere is sleepy.
This year we took a week of rest, relaxation and restoration (after a busy year at The Bass Cottage Inn) in Tortola at the casually elegant Sugar Mill Inn on Tortola's West End. Many of the attributes we love about what we created at The Bass Cottage Inn, Bar Harbor can be found at the Sugar Mill.
If you're looking for a Caribbean vacation that involves gambling, discos, organized beach activities, jello shots or other such nonsense you are advised to select another resort on another island.
The Sugar Mill is a small, luxurious, quiet boutique hotel with an award-winning restaurant that was created many years ago by Jinx and Jeff Morgan, culinary and travel writers. The atmosphere is "old Caribbean". Rooms are tastefully furnished, spotless, with great attention to the little details that matter (OK Bass Cottage Inn guests....do these qualities sound familiar??). The helpful staff are gracious and friendly, but not instrusive.
Dinners at The Sugar Mill were gourmet quality, but we also went to some of our local island favorites, such as the Jolly Roger at Soper's Hole. The Sugar Mill has its own little beach with a casual lunch restaurant, but we usually went to nearby Smuggler's Cove - almost deserted in the week before Thanksgiving. Nothing like a "Painkiller" on the beach! We also recommend booking a day charter out of Soper's Hole for outstanding snorkeling.
We're tough graders but nothing but high marks for The Sugar Mill, Tortola. We will be back. (http://www.sugarmillhotel.com/)
Monday November 9, 2009
Bass Cottage History
When we bought the Bass Cottage Inn in 2003 we knew its orgins, having been built by Joseph Parker Bass of Bangor in 1885 as a summer residence for his family. The innkeeper before us was Anna Jean Turner, who was well -known in Bar Harbor and has family here still.
Out of the blue, we received an email from Kimberly Rogers Lopez from New Jersey that explained her family's history with this marvelous building. She even sent pictures (see left - Bass Cottage circa 1936 with the Ocean Cottage located with the Bar Harbor Bank and Trust is today).
Ms. Lopez writes: "My Great Grandmother Addie F. Maddocks had two sisters Anna and Ruth and all three bought the Bass Cottage. Once the three sisters were older, the Bass Cottage was inherited to their children, one being my grandmother Virginia Moore. My Grandma sold her portion of the cottage to her sister Adele. I suppose there must have been other children who did the same because in the end, the daughters of Ruth Maddocks - Dorothy 'Dottie' White, Barbara Brown and Anna Jean Turner - were the owners you bought the Inn from. ... Anna was an artist who owned a gift shop in town."
We are pleased to have rescued this building from the wrecking ball - not just for us and our guests, but for Kimberly and her extended family as well.
Friday November 6, 2009
Closed for the season
Sometime just after 11am on Sunday November 1 we wished our last guests of the season farewell, locked our front door and broke our a bottle of champagne. Our 2009 season was a great success. Of course, with the economic gloom we were worried last spring. Still, while lodging revenues in Maine were off for the year, we had our best year ever (knock on wood!). Many thanks to guests who returned for another visit this season and new friends who found us in our quiet enclave here in Bar Harbor.
Many folks have asked what happens after we close for the season. Well, everything is scrubbed, cleaned, polished and organized while the building is still warm and we still have energy. The yard and landscaping get a final pre-winter clean up. Chris tears the kitchen apart to ensure a pristine condition come spring. Any leftover food items get donated to the Bar Harbor Food Pantry. The office gets cleaned up, punch lists for improvements and repairs are drawn up. The signs are tucked away and the shades are drawn shut.
Early next week, the plumbers come to drain the pipes, shut down the heat and turn off the gas. The lights are switched off the Inn is locked. In short, it becomes a ghost ship. When I'm here in the winter I can hear echoes of summertime guests having breakfast, talking about their hiking plans...or maybe I hallucinate.
We will take a much needed rest but our reservation office is always open on our website and you can reach us via phone 8am to 8pm seven days a week...except mid November when we will be the islands sleeping and snorkeling.
This blog will be active throughout the off-season. Subscribe to our posts or check back from time to time. We'll have details about some new amenities and offerings for 2010 at The Bass Cottage Inn.
Saturday October 24, 2009
It's great to get a guest letter like this
We recently had some guests from South Dakota who had a tough time making it to Bar Harbor thanks to airline delays. At the end of a long, strong season it's just wonderful for the innkeepers and staff to get an email like the one I share below.
Dear Jeff and Teri,
I am probably not the sort of person that writes a review, and it appears even unnecessary, as you have a bounty of exceptional accolades that I can only repeat. All the superlatives have been used multiple times, and rightfully so! There is nothing more descriptive than to say everything about your inn, your staff and our stay was PERFECT! From the moment we arrived until the moment we left, everything was simply AMAZING.
The poor fellow who met us at the door at 1:30 am (!!) was helpful (helped carry luggage upstairs, which was neither requested nor even expected) and patient while we tried to figure out how to open the trunk in our rental car to retrieve our suitcases!! Our room was lovely. The bed could not have been more comfortable – perfect in every way. We enjoyed having the wonderful robes, good towels, hot shower, and comfortable chair. Honestly, you have been meticulous with every detail in your preparations for guests!!
The breakfasts were to die for each morning, and I still wish you had a cookbook I could purchase! I have a list of recipes from our stay I wish I had, and from reading other comments, it appears you have more delights on your menu we did not even taste. Besides the fabulous menu choices, the presentation was outstanding. We loved the beautiful dining room set up and time frame. Our server from Bulgaria was an absolute jewel and just so sweet I could easily adopt her!
Your afternoon baked treats were a delicious surprise to look forward to after a day of exploring, and the pantry refrigerator was such a wonderful extra amenity. Jay loved the coffee offering while I loved the diet coke!
Your common areas are lovely and so comfortable, with so many cozy places to sit. The burning fireplaces, so warm and inviting, added another layer of ambiance. We have never stayed in a bed and breakfast before, partially because we enjoy our privacy and are not the fussy Victorian type - the furniture never looks comfortable! We truly appreciated your mix of modern and old. We loved your great chairs, gorgeous stained glass, beautiful lamps, woodwork and details without all the lace and flowers! You have created a perfect haven! Lucky for us, we chose the BEST first.
Though I’m probably too wordy for trip advisor, I did want you to know how much we appreciated all the details, planning and effort you have put forth on our behalf. It does not just happen, and you deserve great praise for your hard work. As I commented in your book, you raise a high bar for others to follow!
Have a wonderful vacation and winter rest!!
Jay and Vicki
Wednesday October 21, 2009
Despite the vaguely political tone of this blog title, this blog is about the end our innkeeping season. While we're past peak foliage colors some brilliant color still surrounds use. At our house we have a Japanese maple tree that sears the fall landscape with deep, intense red.
At left is a so-called Burning Bush (Euonymus alata "Compactus"), one of our favorite shrubs and part of our plan to have color in the landscape plan at The Bass Cottage Inn every day we are open for guests. This shrub grows well in many parts of the US and Canada, so check it out.
Of course, the Burning Bush gets its name from biblical allegory.The burning bush is an object described by the Book of Exodus . According to the narrative, the bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames. The burning bush is the location at which Moses was appointed by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into Canaan.
Well, we don't know about that, but we *do* know that the secular and leafy "Burning Bush" is a sign for travelers that we're still open for guests through October 31. So it's not too late for a quick getaway to Downeast Maine.
Saturday October 17, 2009
Recipe: Bass Cottage Inn Maple Oat Scones
Bass Cottage Maple Oat Scones
This is the easiest scone recipe of all time. Guests at The Bass Cottage Inn love to nibble on these as they ponder their breakfast choices and savor a cup of rich coffee. Visitors from the UK are bemused that we serve scones at breakfast (instead of teatime), but they love ‘em all the same. Treat dough gently and you will have the lightest scone you’ll ever eat.
Below is the recipe for the scones....after that is the recipe for the maple glaze.
1. Combine the following dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 5-6 times to aerate:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup oat flour
¼ cup regular oats
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 T baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2. With the blade running, add the cream and pulse until the mixture is processed to pea size ~ 10 - 1 second pulses.
3. Turn mixture into a large bowl, fold 1 cup of golden raisins* into the crumbly dough and pat-out onto counter into large oval. Cut into wedges or rounds using a cookie cutter.
4. Place on ungreased baking sheet and brush with cream and sprinkle with extra oats and turbinado sugar.
* You can substitute currants, blueberries or dried sweetened cranberries
Bake 425 degrees ~12-15 minutes.
Maple Icing for Scones
2 cups powdered sugar
1 T butter, softened
1/2 t real vanilla
1/4 t salt
3-4 T whole milk
1/3 - 1/2 cup real maple syrup
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and whisk them to combine. While whisking gradually add the maple syrup. (The icing will keep for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.)
Allow the scones to cool before adding the icing.
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