Luxury Comes Naturally at Maine’s Inn by the Sea

Inn by the Sea, set spectacularly on the Maine coast, is an eco-friendly hotel.  Photo courtesy Inn by the Sea

No matter how comfy you are at Inn by the Sea—nestled under the bed’s organic wool comforter, getting a Maine Mud Mask in the LEED-certified spa, or dining on lobster and sustainable seafood in Sea Glass Restaurant—the outdoors will always beckon.

This über-green inn manages to balance unpretentious, luxurious interiors with the most spectacular of nature’s settings: the Maine coastline of Cape Elizabeth just outside the city of Portland.

When my husband and I visited in June, we were impressed by our beautiful suite—but we were immediately compelled outdoors.

To reach the azure ocean, which is alluringly visible from nearly every window of the resort, we walked down a charming boardwalk through the wooded riparian habitat of the bird sanctuary. There we found ourselves on the white sand of Crescent Beach—ideal for strolling and building sandcastles. We explored the craggy rocks at one end of the beach; there were beach chairs for flopping in.

Friendly for Families—and Doggie Divas

Dogs can stay in the lap of luxury at Inn by the Sea.            Photo courtesy Inn by the Sea

Inn by the Sea rolls out the red carpet for kids and pets. Two-bedroom suites and cottages offer space for families, and there are special children’s educational programs, including one that focuses on butterflies (this area is Monarch habitat). The restaurant takes special measures to assure quick service and a menu with kid-friendly options that are healthy and appealing.

I thought people were pampered at Inn by the Sea, but canine companions are true VIPs (Very Important Pets) here.

They stay free, and they get special water bowls, L.L. Bean dog blankets, handmade treats at turn-down, and info on the area’s leash-free beaches and dog parks. The pooch can even get a half-hour, in-room massage—I kid you not!

To top it off, the restaurant serves canine specialties. Menu options included Meat “Roaff,” Doggy Gumbo with Angus beef tips, and K-9 Ice Cream topped with crumbled dog bones.

Lobster Chowder at the Sea Glass restaurant is just one of the fantastic seafood offerings on the menu.   Photo courtesy Inn by the Sea.

Sustainable Seafood

It was a delight for us grownups to dine at Sea Glass restaurant. We went two nights in a row, and our palates were well-pleased. Executive chef Mitchell Kaldrovich coaxes fabulous flavors from the neighboring farm produce and from coastal seafood. I thought his Pan-Seared Scallops on local Asparagus Risotto was to die for, but the following evening, the chef trumped that with his signature Maine Seafood and Lobster Paella.

Though the dessert choices are divinely tempting, we saved room for s’mores, which you can make while gathered with other guests around the resort’s fire pit in the evenings. We relaxed by the fire and watched dusk turn to night. Some of the other guests’ kids entertained us with another old-fashioned pastime: rolling down a grassy hill.

The spa is LEED certified, meaning it was built with eco-friendly materials. It also offers natural treatments.              Photo courtesy Inn by the Sea

Spa by the Sea

I did tear myself away from the glorious outdoors long enough to try the spa, a green-built sanctuary.

I opted for the Mermaid’s Massage, a stress-melting mixture of Swedish massage with aromatherapy oils, and special hand and foot focuses. The spa is a place of rest, furnished in quiet earth tones. Guests can use the sauna and 360-degree shower anytime during their stay.

In case I haven’t convinced you about Inn by the Sea’s charms, here are a few of its many eco-sensitive green initiatives:

  • Heated with biofuel
  • Carbon neutral through an extensive carbon offsetting program
  • Equipped with water-saving dual-flush toilets, faucets and showerheads
  • Property includes 5 acres of indigenous gardens certified as wildlife and butterfly habitat.
  • Pool water is solar heated; has a salt/chlorine cleansing system
  • Recycled rubber floors in the cardio room
  • The spa is LEED certified (use of recycled and natural building materials, including cork floors in treatment rooms and low-VOC paints, wall coverings and sealants )
  • Sheet and towel program donates to environmental programs that protect the endangered monarch butterfly
  • CFLs and LED lights save energy
  • Nontoxic cleaning and laundry products keep air pure
  • Dining room offers a farm-to-fork dining experience that utilizes local, seasonal produce. Seafood menu choices focus on sustainably fished species.
  • Inn by the Sea sponsors annual beach cleanup events and participates in area Plant a Row for the Hungry program.

 —Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor

Originally published August 2012

Legendary Green Spa in Ireland

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, it seems only appropriate to mention a green, holistic resort and spa on the Emerald Isle: Delphi Mountain Resort & Spa. (And by “green,” I’m thinking of the eco-friendly type, although in Ireland, the term certainly applies to the foliage too.)

The Delphi Mountain Resort and Spa ©Laurel Kallenbach

The Delphi Mountain Resort and Spa   ©Laurel Kallenbach

I couldn’t help but envision legendary Irish heroes at Delphi Mountain Resort & Spa, a contemporary timber-and-stone lodge hidden in Connemara’s remote fjords a little more than an hour’s drive from Galway.

In fact, on a hike through the mountain terrain, our guide regaled us with the romantic tale of Diarmuid and Grainne, lovers who escaped the wrath of Grainne’s husband-to-be (legendary chieftain Fionn MacCool) by fleeing to hiding places throughout Ireland. Diarmuid, a fabled warrior, is said to be buried on Mweelrea, the mountain that towers above the resort.

Delphi’s architectural style draws from Ireland’s ancient standing stones and Celtic tree lore—reflected in its use of storm-felled oak, ash, beech and elm and (what else?) local stone.

The spa's relaxing area offers views of the Connemara foothills. ©Laurel Kallenbach

The spa’s relaxing area offers views of the Connemara foothills. ©Laurel Kallenbach

The spa, which offers fabulous mountain vistas, is the ideal resting place for modern-day athletes just returned from kayaking, hiking, rock climbing or surfing.

Pampering body and beauty treatments are done in candlelit treatment rooms designed like early-Christian monks’ “beehive” cells. The therapists use certified-organic and herbal products, including Irish seaweed hand-harvested from Ireland’s west coast.

The health-minded gourmet cuisine—much of it local and organic—is fantastic. I happened to visit on my birthday, and I dined on an exquisite lamb dinner with chocolate gateau for dessert.

Relaxing yoga, tai chi and meditation complete this spa experience, which is nearly as epic as the tale of Diarmuid and Grainne themselves.

Legendary Environmental Policies at Delphi

  • Waste reduction and recycling programs
  • A mechanical water-treatment plant that ensures that the water leaving the resort is as clean as the water coming in.
  • Solar panels (for preheating water) and wood chip boilers that use wood from the resort’s sustainably managed forest. Electricity comes from Air-Tricity, a wind-farm operation in the U.K. and Ireland.
  • A recent addition was constructed with recycled-copper roofs, recycled-newspaper insulation in the attics, and wood came from certified managed sustainable forests.
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs to save energy.
  • New rooms are fitted with energy-saving cards that ensure that there’s no energy wasted when units are occupied.
  • Outdoor activities designed to minimize impact on the environment.

Laurel Kallenbach, writer and editor

Read more about my travels in Ireland:

P.S. For more tips on places to visit in Ireland, visit Discover Ireland.