I had visited every continental U.S. state, albeit Maine, until recently. How I can excuse having visited the out-of-the-way and seamlessly landscaped North Dakota before making the comparatively short drive (just around six hours) up the eastern coast to the land of rocky shores is beyond me. I’d been just 15 miles from the state’s borders before without ever pressing on to swallow whole what I now know to officially be one of the most gorgeous U.S. states. But to be fair, I’d heard the gleaming sentiments reported from reliable sources long before my own adventure presented to me the very same conclusion.
My trip to Maine, after all of these traveling years, finally came at the hand of Cliffhouse Resort and Spa. The vacation destination had piqued my interest. A more or less secluded resort stretched along the rocky ocean shore, carefully arranged around a notably 100 foot steep cliff, boasting panoramic views of waves crashing, a full-fledged spa, a reportedly gourmet in-house restaurant, and a special pet-friendly lodging unit…and my travel companion had a lovely 2 year old Boxer, Cale, who was unable to be left behind.
I hopped on a disturbingly cheap Fung Wah bus from New York City’s Chinatown to Boston’s South Station. My friend met me with an adventure-ready Volvo and we headed up to Wells, Maine–taking back roads at every opportunity.
Once we arrived in Wells, we could smell the salty ocean. The low-traffic shoreline road hugged the beach’s sporadic curves and paved the path for us straight into the Cliffhouse parking lot.
While newer, bigger Cliffhouse suites would have been available to us for our stay had it not been for Cale, we were immediately enamored by Ledges–the lodging structure at the far north end of the property–clearly older and of a different architectural design than the rest of the Cliffhouse buildings. The ocean-facing wooden deck of the Ledges building seemed ours for the taking in the less popular branch of Cliffhouse. While we saw other happy vacationers all through the resort the three days we were there, Ledges was faceless–the perfect way to visit this Maine beach with the anti tourist spirit. The accommodations were that of any standard hotel at Ledges–not a bit disappointing. The ocean view, however, was to die for. We were in the room at the very end of this building, providing us with ocean views to the east as well as the north. The waves marched into the rocks, retreated and repeated, and we left the deck doors ajar of course; eager to be awakened by the orange glow of dawn and hum of fishing boats working hard to secure our next meal.
Having tried the salmon, halibut, swordfish, lobster, oysters, mussels, and crab, some fisherman somewhere was certainly catching the best of the best. Our meals were deliciously decadent and the view at the Cliffhouse restaurant cannot be beat. Tall windows make up the eastern wall, giving all diners the chance to eat in awe of the waters, particularly when they’re sparkling under the light of the full moon during the late dinner hours.
Fulfilling its name as a Spa, Cliffhouse skims on no edges with their relaxing treatments. I undressed and found myself in a soothing spa heaven when my appointment for a hot stone treatment followed by an espresso mud body wrap came to pass. The wonderfully lit room paired with the angelic touch of my masseuse made my two hours straight of treatments nothing short of divine. But I wasn’t the only one who was spoiled by the spa at Cliffhouse. Cale, yes, the Boxer, had himself a drool-inducing massage in our room at Ledges. Our masseuse came over and worked her magic until Cale finally jumped up on the bed and passed out.
The giant circular hot tub in front of the resort, at the cliff’s edge, overlooking the shimmering waters one evening, however, was probably my most peaceful moment during this heaven-sent trip to Maine. Clear night skies and utter silence aside from the roar of the waves might, in fact, make this particular hot tub one of my favorites ever.
Cliffhouse Resort and Spa is an easy escape for North easterners and if you take my advice and approach your lodging the anti tourist way, at Ledges, you’ll feel like you have this Maine coast all to yourself.
By: Elizabeth Seward