I recently visited the Camden Harbour Inn, a graceful Relais & Châteaux property in Camden, Maine, with a history dating back to the 1800’s when the inn was a popular destination for both travelers and nobility to visit over the summer, arriving by steamboat to enjoy the invigorating sea air, walks along the unspoiled coastline and unparalleled views.
Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest, both from the Netherlands, had been looking at different properties over three and a half years but there was something that drew them to this hotel. The location was magical, with the historical Inn sitting atop a hill with a view of the charming town of Camden, Maine, minutes from downtown Camden Harbor.
“When we first looked at the property there was a definite 70’s vibe,” said Raymond. The Inn itself has a beautiful outlook but no true water view, and they had to look past the retro televisions, old tapestry curtains and a carpet with roses that decorated the dive bar, to see an amazing restaurant space that won them over. Raymond could envision a luxury Bed and Breakfast that would attract both guests and locals with its rich history and charming story to tell.
Personalized guest experience is a central focus of their unique travel journey and begins as soon as their guests arrive. They are greeted in the parking lot by their attendant and escorted to the front desk and introduced by name before being shown to their room where a welcome note and keepsake await them. Often they will set out a welcome tray of cheese, crackers, charcuterie, and fruit under a glass dome along with a split of bubbly. Turn down service includes a pillow filled with locally grown lavender, a nice touch in addition to a stuffed Dutch Holstein Friesian cow and cow-shaped chocolates, fresh bottled water, and slippers.
They are always looking for ways to create out of the box special experiences that will remain with their guests for years to come. For example, they work with their local lobster fishermen to give their guests first-hand experience in catching the lobster they have for dinner that evening. One couple that stayed with them was having a special anniversary and met in the ’70s. They found a Vintage Volkswagen bus for them and created the ultimate romantic picnic for them to enjoy at a beautiful local Camden lighthouse. For art lovers, they have created an evening at the Inn where guests can sleep with their art and crafted a sensual Valentine package equipped with chocolate decadence for their guests.
The Executive Chefs at Natalie’s Restaurant source local ingredients from the Maine fishermen and farmers and host special farm to table dinners, such as the Farmer’s Harvest Dinner, where hors d’oeuvres will come straight from the garden and the Sous Chef will host an interactive class before the five-course dinner.
The Camden Harbour Inn prides itself on having a totally sustainable no waste tolerance at Natalie’s Restaurant. They grow all their own produce and everything in the garden is utilized in recipes created by Executive Chef Chris Long. Natalie’s is committed to quality and authentic modern New England cuisine with international influences inspired by seasonal fare. Whatever is not used in the restaurant is either taken home by staff or distributed among the community at the end of every day.
Natalie’s cocktails are as highly-renowned as the food, and the wine list features over two hundred handpicked bottles representing some of the world’s best vineyards. Natalie’s offers seasonal prix fixe tasting menus and the Homard Grand Cru (Grand Lobster Menu).
Their spa is a popular amenity for those choosing to indulge and they have partnered with Shaklee for their health and wellness products and nutrition which has been very well received by guests.
I asked Raymond what he believed their guests were looking for when they chose the Camden Harbor Inn? He told me that when he was in the Far East he worked for Boer en Wendel and Unitravel and was responsible for creating unique high-end trips throughout the Far East. It was there that he realized that luxury guests are looking for an experience they will remember for a lifetime that transforms them. “At the Camden Harbour Inn we focus on creating those once in a lifetime experiences for our guests, a magical place and experience that fills the heart and soul.”