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A Quintessential New England Ecofriendly Resort: The Nonantum Resort

March 24, 2014

Quintessential New England… that was my first thought as I drove through the picturesque, winding, maple and oak tree-lined roads into Kennebunkport. Passing by quaint little shops, luxurious hotels and charming inns, enticing restaurants and the coolest directional signs I’ve ever seen, I could feel every muscle in my body relax. Having been to Maine dozens of times, somehow I’ve always missed this place. And if you’ve ever been, you know I was definitely missing out! Maine in October would not be my first choice of places to visit, being that my motto is “the hotter the better!” But, I have to admit, with the foliage being in peak bloom, it was stunning. And the fact that it was unseasonably 75 degrees all week did help a bit.

Kennebunkport is one of those places you’ll never forget and you can’t wait to experience again. Here in Connecticut, we think of Maine as being quite a distance, but it’s actually just 90 miles north of Boston. The area is a wonderful little corner of Maine where lobstermen still rule the sea, where hospitality takes on a new meaning as hotel and shop owners greet their visitors like long-lost friends, and where the nostalgia and charm of this seaside community take us back to simpler times.

A short walk from Dock Square, where all the action happens, is the grand Nonantum Resort. Since 1883, The Nonantum Resort has continually strived to adapt to the times while still meeting the needs of guests, and at the same time retaining the history and essences of the original inn. One can stay in The Carriage House Inn which offers several room categories with a mix of traditional and Victorian décor. They are perfect for a romantic weekend with many featuring four-poster beds, hardwood floors, jetted tubs for two and gas-burning wood stoves.

Or if waterfront is more to your liking, you can stay in The Portside Lodge which is designed like a Maine waterfront vacation lodge.   First and second floor rooms have a private balcony or patio and third floor rooms have large picture windows with breathtaking water views.

The Nonantum Resort knows how to keep you entertained with an outdoor heated swimming pool, Farm to Fork weekends, lobster and sailing cruises, deep sea fishing charters, stand-up paddle board demos, kayak and bicycle rentals, and they are a stop on two of the Maine Foodie Tours (www.mainefoodietours.com). They have daily activities with a wide range of options including yoga classes, games, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, sing-alongs, and “S’mores” toasted by hand over a crackling fire. The Resort even features live music several nights a week. They host the annual Fire & Ice (www.fireandicekport.com) and Paddle Battle (www.paddlebattlekport.com).

The restaurants and pub provide variety while capturing the flavors of Maine in both food and drink options. Heckman’s Pub is an intimate, cozy place located just inside the front door of the Carriage House. The pub features excellent local beers and great pub food. Latitudes, the poolside bar and grill, is one of their best kept secrets. I could see how it would be so easy to spend the whole day – and early evening – poolside in July and August.

From lobster cake appetizers to delicate desserts, the professional staff at 95 Ocean serves up an excellent dining experience.  95 Ocean was highlighted on the popular television program “The TV Diner” and received the shows “Platinum Plate Award.” Features and specials highlight Maine’s local farm produce and products, fresh herbs from The Nonantum Resort’s garden and local seafood.

But, on to the real reason I spent a few days there! The resort is certified by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection as an Environmental Leader by implementing programs to:

  • Conserve water
  • Minimize/reduce waste
  • Use environmentally friendly cleaners
  • Recycle unused soap products with Clean the World, a non-profit organization that saves the lives of children by bringing these items to impoverished countries around the world
  • Purchase local food and products
  • Educate the staff and guests on reducing environmental impact
  • Money from bottle returns is donated to local charities and staff wellness benefits
  • Gardens and grounds are 100% organic
  • All herbs and edible flowers grown are used in the resorts food and beverage outlets
  • Chefs work with Tibbetts Farm in Lyman, ME to compost organic kitchen waste

Since implementing the Clean the World program in March of 2012, their housekeeping department has collected over 400 pounds of soap, which means that over two thousand bars of soap will be distributed to children and families in need worldwide. That’s quite an accomplishment. But they don’t stop there! They’ve also collected 140 pounds of bottled amenities, and combined have diverted over 300 pounds of soap and bottled amenities from hitting local landfills.

By far the most fascinating and exciting endeavor that The Nonantum Resort has launched is their Green Room Project. Picture this…you’re an 8th grade student interested in art and design and your art class is given the opportunity to design a real hotel room in your local town! Can you imagine the delight and excitement you would feel?  Well, that’s what happened seven years ago when General Manager Tina Hewett-Gordon’s daughter approached her about ideas for an art class project.  Coincidently, the resort was initiating a room by room remodeling and the owners agreed to work with the class to create their first “Green Room” design.

The students are given a $5,000 budget with the direction to use as many local products and environmentally friendly techniques as possible, which teaches them the skill of compromise and working on a budget. Students form committees to choose lighting, bedding, furniture, wall art and accessories.   They research color palettes, eco-designs, prices, artwork and feasibility of designs. There are even field trips to Ikea and Pottery Barn where professional decorators meet with the students and discuss making their dream rooms a reality. In addition, Apple has partnered with the program and podcasts are created that educate teens about activities in the area. A year-long plan, students finish the project with a great understanding about the hotel industry, room design, what it means to be environmentally friendly, and how challenging it can be for a resort to comply with all of the criteria.

Kennebunkport is a place where everyone greets you with a smile. Be sure to make it a place you’ll visit soon. Locals and visitors alike enjoy chowder contests, musical acts, sidewalk art shows and plenty of activities throughout the year. You can enjoy all of this during your wonderful, relaxing stay at The Nonantum Resort.

The Nonantum Resort, 95 Ocean Avenue, Kennebunkport, Maine, 04046

Rooms $99-$449, www.nonantumresort.com (888) 205-1555

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