Resort Spotlight: The Cliff House Resort in Maine

By Jeff and Stephanie Sylva

A favorite vacation destination for many families in New England is the Maine Coast. A great choice for families looking to experience some of the best this area has to offer is The Cliff House Resort & Spa in Ogunquit. Located on Shore Road mid-way between Ogunquit and York, The Cliff House offers the very best of what makes a Maine vacation so special – an unparalleled view of the rocky coast. All of the resort’s buildings are situated on the top of Bald Head Cliff in ways that offer spectacular ocean views from all perspectives.

The Cliff House is also close to many of the south coast’s popular beaches and resort towns. So, if you and your family are able to pull yourselves away from the resort’s great amenities and its enchanting views, you’ll find lots of things to do in this popular destination. Maine’s South Coast is a family vacation gem.

A Long Tradition of Hospitality

Located just a little more than an hour’s drive north of Boston, The Cliff House began its 137th season when it opened this year. The Weare Family has owned and operated The Cliff House since 1872, and fourth-generation innkeeper, Kathryn Weare, continues to combine classic Maine tradition and modern resort luxury featuring the best of Maine. It is believed that the Cliff House Dining Room, whose cuisine is based on Maine-raised and locally grown products, is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Maine. But don’t think of the resort as being an ancient relic; just one look at the resort’s luxurious world-class spa and resort facilities will tell you that The Cliff House is prepared to continue its long tradition of world-class lodging.

Facilities for Family Fun

The Cliff House has two family pools as well as two adult-only pools. The outdoor family pool has a view of nearby Ogunquit Beach, while the indoor pool has a whirlpool and sauna for use by families. The adults-only pools include a 75-foot, indoor lap pool and a “vanishing edge” outdoor pool with great views of the Atlantic Ocean. Next to the indoor family pool is the recreation area, where we saw a number of families having fun playing on the coin-operated pool tables, table hockey, and video games, as well as enjoying the complimentary ping-pong, large-screen TV, and tables for puzzles, cards, and board games. Two outdoor tennis courts are available for play, and a few excellent golf courses are located nearby. All of these amenities help to make The Cliff House a popular spot for family celebrations and reunions. Visit the Cliff House’s website to learn about their Celebrations Package and the many special touches that are included.

Although the services of the world-class Cliff House Spa are only available to those 18 years of age and older, moms can take advantage of the resort’s Mother/Daughter Spa package for the perfect bonding experience. Guests can experience some of the many treatments utilizing indigenous ingredients such as the Cliff House Seashell Massage, the Atlantic Sea Antioxidant Facial, or the Maine Blueberry Nail Service. Dads can pick a treatment from the “Mainely Men” list of spa services.

Accommodations vary by building, but all rooms have a large picture window and decks with views of the coast and ocean. The most spectacular views are from the rooms in Cliffscape. Rates vary depending on the building and the season, and range from $160 for a room with two double beds in the Ledges building during the early preseason to $285 for a room in Cliffscape during the summer season. Availability for reservations of less than three nights is limited. A variety of packages are offered, as well as a meal plan. We found the food in the Dining Room to be excellent, and the view is even better.

Attractions of the South Coast

Money magazine rates the York/Ogunquit region one of the “top ten destinations in North America for vacations.” The town of York, comprised of what were once four smaller communities - Cape Neddick, York Harbor, York Village, and York Beach - is famous for its long sandy beaches and funky, family-friendly, beach-town atmosphere. Nubble Lighthouse, officially the Cape Neddick Light Station, is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. A number of historical points of interest can be explored in the area, such as the Old Goal (America’s oldest jail), Ft. McClary, a Revolutionary War fort, and the Old Counting House and Hamilton House on the banks of the Salmon Falls River. This area was home to some of the first artist colonies, and the first colorized travel postcards were painted here. York’s Wild Kingdom Zoo & Amusement Park offers animal shows and amusement park rides for the kids.

Shopping is a favorite pastime in the area, whether it is at one of the many local shops, galleries and boutiques in York and Ogunquit, or at the ever-popular factory outlets in nearby Kittery. A very popular destination for tourists is Perkins Cove in Ogunquit for its collection of shops and restaurants amid a picturesque setting. This is a great place to take a sightseeing or lobstering cruise. Scenic cruises of Nubble Lighthouse and the rocky coast along Bald Head Cliff are provided by a couple of different sightseeing boats.

If your family enjoys walking, be sure to experience the 1 ½-mile pathway called Marginal Way. This pathway connects Perkins Cove and the village of Oqunquit.  Hikers will enjoy the beautiful views of the coastline and the many gorgeous homes along the water’s edge. Ogunquit has a number of interesting shops, boutiques and restaurants, as well as some great beaches perfect for family fun.

If You Go:

The Cliff House Resort & Spa:  For more information, call (207) 361-1000 or visit www.cliffhousemaine.com.

Getting Around:  From mid-June to Labor Day, the Shore Road Shuttle, part of the Shoreline Trolley service, operates between York Beach and Perkins Cove, with connecting services all the way to Kennebunk. Trolleys will pick up and drop off right at the Cliff House Pavilion. A one-way fare is $1, and an all-day pass is $3. Children 18 and younger are free. Rates on connecting trolley service vary a little. This is a good way to forget about the hassle of parking. For information call (207) 324-5762 or visit: www.shorelinexplorer.com.

Sightseeing and Lobster Cruises: Finestkind, Perkins Cove – call (207) 646-5227 or visit www.finestkindcruises.com.

Jeff and Stephanie Sylva are retired high school teachers and have been professional travel writers for over twenty years. Their daughter Jennifer, who is currently in college, often travels with them.

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