This article appeared in Esquire Magazine: May 1996
Man at His Best
Special Places – Four Views of the Bay
The porch, according the certain experts, makes the inn. It must be broad, with a sturdy balustrade and plentiful wooden furniture, and it must overlook scenery that is inspiring but not so monumental that it leaves one speechless. Talk, after all, is what porches are for. The Claremont’s porch meets these criteria. The view is flawlessly orchestrated, a stately progression of green lawn and sun-dappled water, modulating to a low green harbor island and then to the finale, a range of blue-gray rounded hills. The Boston aristocracy, which would have found Niagara Falls, for instance, a garish and untoward spectacle, saw in this elegant natural geometry a flattering mirror of their own ideas of restraint, which is undoubtedly why Mount Desert became their spa of choice in the late nineteenth century.
The Claremont, built in 1884, continues to be sustained by these values. Croquet is the reigning sport, followed by tennis, played on a clay court on the grounds. The hotel’s forty-one rooms are light and airy; many are sprinkled with antiques, but never so many as to suggest a period exhibit. There are boats to be hired in the harbor, walks to be taken in the mountains of Acadia National Park, and freshwater ponds to swim in nearby. The dining room serves simple, well-prepared food. The only area where restraint might not be practiced is in the matter of desserts, which tend toward the cathedralesque. The price of a room for two, including breakfast and dinner, range from $130 to $125 a night. (Tel.: 207-244-5036.)