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Maine’s Coastal Route
Maine’s Route 1, affectionately known as the “Lobster Trail,” is New England’s version of California’s Route 1. And driving the coast while stopping in charming towns along the way is arguably the best way to experience the state. Plus, with all of the Pine Tree State’s natural resources, there are tons of exclusive products by resident artisans that you won’t find anywhere else.
Windsor Chairmakers (north of Camden in Lincolnville, create custom furniture from native American woods like tiger maple, cherry, white ash, black walnut, and pine enhanced with dyes and glazes, all by hand. Swans Island Company, with headquarters in Northport and a boutique in Camden, is another one. Known for their fine, hand-crafted textiles—particularly, the wool blankets—the home goods company sources organic fiber from local New England farms, and dye many of their yarns using naturally-derived pigments like cochineal, indigo, and madder root. And while in Camden, the property to know is Relais & Châteaux’s Camden Harbour Inn. Aside from the eclectic and modern interior design that contrasts with the traditional 1800s mansion, the inn offers a package called “A Date Night with Art” that allows guests to live with their favorite pieces from local world-renowned galleries and decide if they’d like to purchase after their stay.
Another notable design destination is Portland’s Via Vecchia, which just opened this summer. Located in the city’s Old Port, the historic, brick and ivy covered building Italian restaurant is filled with Art Deco design elements including subway tiled walls, gold gilded ceilings, and vintage soda fountains found on Etsy. Plus, there’s a speakeasy in the back with clips of old Italian movies in black-and-white playing on the wall. As for shopping in Portland, Portland Dry Goods has a curated selection of designer brands like Herno, Barbour, and Peter Millar that appeal to Mainers, as well as their own custom, private label.—Annie Davidson
Tiny Rhode Island Delivers Big When it Comes to Hotels
At The Preserve Sporting Club & Residences in Richmond, RI you’ll find the welcoming mix of unspoiled nature and luxury accommodations—think luxe adult camp. The property, previously a private members-only club, has recently partnered with Ocean House Management and now offers lodging for rental or for purchase. This resort, just 30 minutes from the beloved Ocean House Watch Hill, will keep even the most vigorous outdoor enthusiasts busy with activities including fly and ice fishing ponds, an 18-hole golf course, and more than 100 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails. The newly built cabins and houses, spread across the 3,500-acre property, give an upscale log cabin vibe and are designed to blend in with the surrounding nature.
Castle Hill Inn, a Newport classic and American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property that occupies the Agassiz Mansion, built in 1871 and originally home to Swiss scientist Alexander Agassiz, continues to charm guests with its comfortable elegance and beach-front accommodations. For ultimate seclusion, go for a cottage with a private deck, just steps from Collins Beach. If you can’t stay the night, stop by The Lawn for a sunset cocktail—the Adirondack chairs are socially distanced and the views are breathtaking.
Nestled in downtown Newport is The Vanderbilt, a grand “cottage” with 33 rooms, originally built in 1909–you’ll likely spot the property’s vintage yellow mustang parked out front, available for daily rental. The Auberge property remains open while undergoing a full renovation. Be sure to stop by for a drink on the rooftop bar overlooking Newport Harbor.
Looking to explore more of New England? Luxury travel company Black Tomato has partnered with Auberge Resorts Collection and Mercedes-Benz to create a series of bespoke itineraries, one of which being “Charming New England.” Once your Mercedes is dropped off at your door you’re free to explore some of New England’s most quintessential towns, staying at three of Auberge’s properties along the way—all newly renovated or soon-to-be: The Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, CT, The Vanderbilt in Newport, RI, and White Barn Inn & Spa in Kennebunk, ME. All itineraries include experiences that are location-and-season-specific, depending on your interests. For the adventurers, go for a helicopter trip to see the Block Island lighthouses or board a private seaplane and view Acadia National Park from above. For those who want to keep their feet firmly on the ground, enjoy a private shopping experience with the owners of the gorgeous Plain Goods antique shop, or cook alongside head-chef Matthew Padilla after hand-picking fresh lobsters.—Hannah Belport
A Girlfriend Getaway to the Chesapeake
With our multi-island girls’ trip to Greece canceled by COVID-19 last June, my best friend LaToya and I were desperate to escape the lockdown doldrums. We wanted to have a little outdoor adventure and then reward ourselves with a bit of luxury pampering so we settled on a road trip through Maryland and Virginia. We packed our bags and hopped into our roomy 2020 Cadillac XT4 that featured massaging front seats so the pampering could begin right away. Our first stop was Shenandoah National Park which is situated along the Blue Ridge Mountains with over 500 miles of hiking including a section of the Appalachian Trail.
We checked into Skyland Lodge, which offered simple, comfortable rooms but easy access since it’s located inside the actual park. We rose early to hike to Stony Man, a rock outcrop that offers beautiful scenic views and helped us reach our daily Fitbit goals. Later that afternoon we cooled off on the rocks along Dark Hollow Falls before making a pit stop at the nearby Delaplane Cellars, a boutique family winery where we rewarded ourselves with a bottle of their Petit Maseng Doux. We next headed towards Maryland’s Eastern shore to St Michaels where the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property Inn at Perry Cabin is located. Although the town is quite charming and historical, with some buildings dating back to the 1600’s, we were happy to stay put at the resort, strolling the English style gardens and sitting at the water’s edge watching the yachts sail by. Later that evening, we dined privately in their new greenhouse overlooking the dock. Chef Greg James prepared a three-course dinner using regional ingredients like a ravioli with scapes and maitake mushrooms for Latoya and an artichoke dish that was tailored to my vegan diet. Afterwards we took a sunset cruise, gliding quietly along the Miles River with an unexpected dolphin sighting. Who needs an island sunset on the Aegean Sea, when you can lounge out on a private daysailer?
We headed north over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Alexandria, a historic district founded in 1749, and just ten minutes from Washington D.C. We checked into The Alexandrian, Autograph Collection, a sprawling property with 241 guest rooms and suites, situated in the heart of Old Town. Even though COVID-19 protocols were in full effect, it felt somewhat normal as we roamed King Street lined with charming Federal-style row houses. In the last decade chefs and entrepreneurs have crossed the Potomac to revitalize the area opening shops, restaurants, and bars and even turning a former naval munitions center into the Torpedo Factory Art center. There was a slightly festive vibe as outside dining spilled into the streets and since we hadn’t been out to eat in months, we were excited to sit down to a meal at Mai Thai. We tucked into our noodle dishes and took in the the views of the Potomac. We were far from our Greek Island idyll, but it was still a holiday indeed.—Leah Rudolfo