The Escape Artist
The Simple Life
Natural refinement at Maine’s Hidden Pond
Beach vacations aren’t white shoes or summer lilies. They shouldn’t disappear with the passing of Labor Day, especially since, even without a wetsuit or layer of seal blubber, the waters of coastal Maine can support a weekend dip as late as October. For a last flush of sun, an ideal setting is Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport, a resort conceived as a summer camp for grown-ups, but which also caters expertly to the underaged.
Apparently designed by upscale druids, Hidden Pond’s wooded grounds are a mix of birches, pines and luxury amenities, not to mention a Ken Oringer restaurant. Checking in, a guest’s first glimpse of the sylvan theme is in the main Lodge’s subdued palette, polished woods and plush seating, accented by unfinished branches. A set of French doors opens onto a warm, saltwater pool sized for kids, one shallow enough even for children who haven’t learned much buoyancy. A Buddha statue perches at one end to encourage meditative splashing, while cabanas in the garden are perfect for drowsing after a game of tag or Marco Polo. For parents, the adjacent Back Porch Bar has an urbane cocktail menu and stocks local beers, while the Sand Bar Grille serves poolside lunch and kid-palate foods like burgers and pizza. There’s also a firepit that hosts one of the resort’s central social events, a nightly bonfire supplied with baskets of ingredients for s’mores.
The real culinary draw, though, is Earth, one of the best dining rooms south of Portland. Plenty of restaurants trumpet their farm-to-table credentials, but Earth’s tomatoes, green onions and lettuces are grown onsite in the resort’s organic gardens. Everything from the shellfish to the cheese is doggedly local; even the walls are built from trees cut for clearing the site. After a dish of handmade maltagliati with crab and sea urchin, take a digestif by the fire next to the adults-only pool, and rest assured that the babysitter supplied by the resort is still on the clock.
The best reason to visit Hidden Pond, though, is the lodging. Couples can opt for bungalow accommodations, but families should book one of the unique two-bedroom cottages ringing the Lodge. “Thank You,” for instance, has a summer cabin look, if decked out by a pricey interior designer with connections in the antiques trade. A long enclosed porch sports a two-person swing and vintage artwork; an outdoor shower is stocked with L’Occitane products and, better, a view of the treetops or the stars as you rinse away the day’s swim. The full kitchen is handy for cooking snacks purchased from the onsite store (aptly called “Provisions”) or serving the breakfast baskets of fruits, yogurts and fresh baked goods delivered every morning to your door. “Stargazer” is a two-story cottage with a natural palette and a bird-and-thistle theme. “Moon Watch” sports a giant compass rose on the ceiling and classic wildlife prints and oil paintings. Were you to pluck up any of these cottages and drop them inside the I-495 ring, you’d send property values skyrocketing in a half-mile radius.
If the pool loses its allure, the staff will drive you the five minutes it takes to reach Goose Rocks Beach, an arc of pale, velvet sand largely devoid of sharp rocks or shells, yielding a safe, splashy ground for sandcastle builders. It’s also a restful place for adults to bask before a hot lobster roll and a glass of Chablis across the street at the Tides, Hidden Pond’s relentlessly elegant sister property, a hotel of muted beach colors, original art and plush white armchairs overlooking the sea.
Afterward, hop a ride back to the resort for an afternoon at the Tree Spa. Treatments are performed in Spartan, wooden huts reached by gangplanks between the balsams—this is the opposite of the overstuffed city spas that sink you in upholstery and excessive towels. Here it’s just you, a table and expert hands. Stepping back out of your hut into the sun-mottled forest, it’s obvious that, at Hidden Pond, simplicity is the heart of refinement.
- Bike rentals are available next to “the farm,” where you’re free to pick your own herbs, vegetables or berries.
- The energetic will enjoy the morning yoga and fitness classes, as well as guided kayaking, biking and stand-up paddleboarding.
354 Goose Rocks Road | Kennebunkport, Maine | 888-967-9050 | hiddenpondmaine.com