“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” -Anita Desai
A Pre-Birthday Birthday Getaway
Hello friends! I know I have teased quite a bit about my pre-birthday birthday get away and I am finally here to share all the deets! After dealing with some health stuff, it really was what the doctor called for, and it was amazing to be able to get away (even though I had only been there a couple weeks prior for work!) and unwind completely. I usually do a birthday trip anyway and with the exception of 2020 (because pandemic!) I have been going away either on or around my birthday for the last decade. It is the perfect way to celebrate the gift of getting older (and hopefully wiser!) This trip was kind of last minute, but also well worth it! I stayed at the Harborside Hotel and Marina, and they treated me like a queen! I literally could not have asked to stay at a better hotel.
The Harborside Hotel and Marina
The Harborside Hotel and Marina, which is part of the Opal Collection, is located on Mount Desert Island right in downtown Bar Harbor. It is part of a working Marina as well as has a varied history. Dating back to the early 1900’s, the hotel occupies what was once known as Peanut Row, an area that was filled with quaint shops which burned down during the great island fire in 1947. The fire ended up burning 18,000 acres and lasted for four weeks destroying many of the “grand summer cottages.” After the fire, they built The Golden Anchor Inn before becoming what is now the iconic Harborside Resort.
And it truly is a resort. It melds the gilded architectural style of historical Bar Harbor with a modernized feel, so while you feel like you have stepped back in time, you still have all the comforts of now, which to be quite frank, I appreciate. I love history, but no one wants to use an out house. The lobby is an example of that, with dark wood trim nautical paintings and comfy classic style couches, that almost make you feel like you have stepped onto the Titanic.
And yet, the rooms, while sticking with dark accents, are light, nautical, and modern. My room had dark hardwood floors, which I appreciated as hotel carpets can really be quite disgusting. The bed, while grand with its’ cloth headboard, was the epitome of comfort. Seriously, I have never slept in a more comfortable hotel bed. The bathroom was modern while still the epitome of gilded luxury, the robes were super cozy, and the best part was they had Nest products that smelled incredible! Honestly the hotel as a whole, smelled amazing! I have only been to one other hotel (In Charleston) that smelled that good through out the rooms.
All the rooms have patios or balcony’s and mine was no different. I was located on the first floor over looking the pool area, so I actually had a large deck area, which while semi private (there were half dividers between the rooms) was shared with the other guests on the first floor. In some ways it was better because, I not only had my own rocking chairs and table, but I also got chaise lounges to sit on, which I definitely used. It was also the perfect place to people watch!
The Harborside also includes The Bar Harbor Club which was built by JP Morgan in 1929 during the stock market crash and became the place to join, be seen, and attend events. It was so grand they even auditioned musicians from the New York and Philadelphia Symphonys for their lavish balls. It miraculous survived the fire and many of its Tudor styled architecture is still intact, though they have extensively modernized it. It is now part of the Harborside with a gym, a gorgeous pool with expansive views of Frenchman’s Bay as well as facilities to hold conferences, weddings, and other events.
Even before my arrival, they worked to provide the best customer experience with a texting concierge to see if I needed anything before my arrival as well as to see what time I was arriving. While they couldn’t guarantee an early check-in, they did tell me I would be able to do a pre-check-in which would include parking which was perfect as Bar Harbor in the summer is insanely busy. Thankfully, though, my room was ready. The front desk staff was so incredibly helpful even showing me where to go and asking if I needed anything, which included booking any reservations.
After parking, and grabbing my bags I walked into not only a stunning room, but the sweetest surprise! Knowing it was my birthday, they had comped me a bottle of what was insanely delicious wine and left the sweetest card! I wanted to pop it open right then and there, but alas I had a massage scheduled! But I definitely opened it later!
I stayed for three days and literally did not want to leave! While it wasn’t the best weather, it honestly did not matter, because the hotel was so luxurious, all I wanted to do was hang at the pool, drink my delicious wine and chillax. Okay to be fair I did do some work, because hashtag workaholic. But for the most part it was much needed rest and relaxation.
I did do some exploring in Acadia to places I had never been before like the Jordan Pond Tea House, as well as ran the Ocean Path a couple times, (this time without wiping out, which I STILL am heaoing from!) but aside from that, and walking the Shore Path as well as getting my coffee fix at Choco-latte, I hung out at the hotel.
I love how the pool is set-up. It is so big that even when busy, it doesn’t feel it. The hot tub while just feet away, has shrubs to give the adults more privacy and has prime views of the ocean, so I was able to relax with a view. Though honestly everything at the Harborside has a view. My last night there, another guest brought a portable speaker and we ended up having a dance party. I mean how can you not when Bennie and the Jetts and Living on a Prayer are playing? Not going to lie the wine and tiramisu (which is always heaven here) probably helped a bit.
Some tips to Note
The Harborside and the Opal Collection really does take great pride in their customer service and giving you the best experience. They will make reservations for you, and go above and beyond to make sure you are happy. I have stayed at luxury resorts before. They by far have the best customer concierge services. I definitely recommend going through them to book things especially int he height of the busy season. I also recommend calling if booking a room, they will work with you to make sure you have the best accommodations at the best prices. They really strive to make sure you have the best experience.
Their food is amazing. Bella Vita is one of my favorite restaurants as is their sister restaurant Paddy’s which is literally across the street at their other hotel The West Street. I have never had a bad meal there. And their cocktails are also phenomenal as is the service.
You have full use of the Bar Harbor Club, which includes the pools and gym, which is nice, especially if the other pool is busier. And the Harborside has its own private beach, which connects to the sand bar that Bar Harbor is named after. It is cool to explore at low tide and even walk out to the island. (just check tide charts so you don’t get stuck)
The only downside is they are closed from November to May, otherwise I would stay here all the time! And beecause of the location, you can park your car and walk around Bar Harbor without having to worry about parking. It also has gorgeous views of the sunrise and even the sunset. I couldn’t have asked for a better pre-birthday getaway. It really was what I needed and the perfect way to celebrate thirty-two!
What is the most luxurious hotel or resort you have stayed at?