Sometimes just getting out of the city isn’t enough—you have to leave it completely behind, and find a place that makes you forget where you came from. This is the ultimate goal of Hidden Pond Resort, in Kennebunkport, Maine. The peacefulness and luxury here was cultivated by an over-achiever—it’s intensely lovely. Though the journey may seem like a hike, the relaxation that awaits you will nullify any travel anxiety on contact. Situated just 40 minutes south of Portland, the small, sophisticated seaside town of Kennebunkport is a world away from city living, and offers an ideal mix of beach and trail life, good food, good times and Hidden Pond.
You wouldn’t guess it by its initial summer camp vibes, but Hidden Pond’s rooms are super luxe. In fact, calling it a room is an understatement. The hideaways within the 60-acre hideaway are individual bungalows which appear in both one and two bedroom options. Each features a gas fireplace, four-post bed and a charming screened-in porch. Perhaps the biggest draw though is the outdoor shower. There’s an indoor shower as well, but why would you bother? The decor is a tasteful mix of outdoorsy accents elevated—branches and antiqued mirrors, stone and polished wood, all within a crisp but familiar beige color scheme. If Hidden Pond is meant to resemble summer camp, the rooms transform the experience to something closer to glamping. With sturdier walls. And fluffy mattresses.
A view of the expansive property is enjoyed through the rear windows of the bungalows, though utmost privacy is maintained. In fact, once you enter from the dirt road, you’ll forget it exists. A key aspect of Hidden Pond is that it is equally tempting to enjoy the outdoors as it is to stay put in your room. With the daily delivery of granola, yogurt and hot coffee, you can manage to enjoy the accommodations at least until midday. And if you’re an early-riser, be sure to join the trips to the beach for kayaking and stand up paddleboarding, or yoga at the farm.
The Tree Spa
Kudos to the people who created a place where you can fulfill your overworked adult needs for pampering while at the same time channeling your childhood tree house dream. At The Tree Spa, treatment rooms hang eight feet off the ground within a pleasant forest of birch trees. No climbing required—a wooden walkway snakes through to the treatment rooms, which resemble a retro apothecary.
Farmaesthetics’ sustainable beauty products are featured at the spa and add a whole new level to the aim of connecting with nature. The line was developed using whole organic herbs along with other natural ingredients, all from American farms and packaged in recyclable, minimalist bottles and boxes. With products like Nourishing Lavender Milk, which is delicate enough for face and body, and Pure Complexion Tonic made to both soothe and purify the skin, Farmaesthetics harkens back to a simpler time. Spa services run the gamut, from a Warmed Bamboo Therapy Massage to Maine Honey Body Buzz with Warm Remedy Wrap, an exfoliation and soak with light massage.
With a focus on local foods—we’re talking the garden outside local—Hidden Pond’s restaurant Earth is a casually elegant space featuring Italian-inspired cuisine from James Beard Award-winner Ken Oringer. Wood fired pizza is a favorite, as well as the house made burrata and local seafood paella. The chef’s garden provides not only a serene outdoor dining area, but a place the kitchen will gather herbs from to supplement the dishes, and nightly menus are heavily influenced around what is seasonally available. The nearby farm on property also provides some of the food for Earth, and is an exciting work in progress. This experiment in growing can best be experienced through a tour with the gardener, who will guide you through identifying and tasting different herbs, digging up carrots and picking flowers for a bouquet. The notion of farm to fork has never been so vivid.
Grab a bike from the shed at Hidden Pond and take the easy ride down to their sister hotel The Tides Beach Club. In this majestic home converted to be a chic, modern beachfront property, soak up the more sophisticated vibes dining near the open windows, sipping a drink at the bar, or heading down to the banana yellow private Goose Rocks Beach area, where a bevy of staffers will take care of you, even loaning out sunscreen.
Hidden Pond boasts plenty of hiking trails on the property which are best explored by foot. Save the beach cruising bikes to ride to nearby Emmons Nature Preserve where a leisurely hike will lead you past flower filled meadows, beaver dams and waterfalls. Or join a bike excursion to Clark Preserve that runs along the river and is home to wildlife such as moose and deer. Just down the road from the hotel, you’ll notice Blackrock Farm with its gorgeous blooming field and horse stables. Hidden Pond also acquires produce here for their restaurant, keeping it very local.
High on your list of things to do in the area should be some version of a personal lobster roll eating contest. Start at the casual Clam Shack, which was recently voted “Best” and don’t overlook the fried clams. The outdoor picnic tables right on the bridge over the Kennebunk River are no-nonsense, so you can focus on the grub. Later, head to the brewery for a taste of Kennebunkport nightlife at bar and restaurant Federal Jack’s, which serves several local brews and views of the Kennebunk River.
When your days at Hidden Pond end gathered around a bonfire with all the fixings for ‘smores (as they will) the city isn’t looking so good in comparison. Perhaps you should stay awhile.
To get an insider’s view on Hidden Pond’s sustainable spa line Farmaesthetics, attend the Garden Wellness Weekend October 18-20, 2013, where Farmaesthetics founder Brenda Brock will lead a session on the making of her all natural beauty line in conjunction with delicious, raw cooking classes from the inspiring holistic nutritionist Katie McDonald, founder of bNourished.
Take cooking classes during the Farm to Vine Culinary Series on September 23rd, 2013, with Earth’s executive chef Justin Walker, learning the Native American potlatch style of cooking. Then enjoy a feast of salmon, corn and potatoes at the fire pits outside the restaurant. On October 21st, the series focuses on beer tasting at local breweries and a three course meal at Earth with ingredients hand-picked from the garden and well matched to seasonal brews.
Rates at Hidden Pond start at $399 and require two night stay. Visit kennebunkport.org for more tips on things to do in the area.
How to get there: Take a train to Boston from New York City where you can easily connect to a bus to Portland. From there, a taxi is $65 to the resort, or splurge (only a bit more) for a limo ride from family-owned Portland Limo. If you’d like to drive, consult oM’s guide to renting Hybrids in NYC.