A few weeks ago, I went on my first business trip, to the charming town of Kennebunkport, ME. I do PR for two hotels there: the White Barn Inn and their sister property, the Breakwater Inn & Spa. I was there to check out the properties and be around for a video shoot. Part one of the shoot was for a cable cooking show and the other was for b-roll. B-roll (short for background video) is the footage you might see on TV when they are talking about a destination, it has no sound and not much action. It was my first trip to Kennebunkport and my first to Maine in many, many years. H has often expressed a desire to move to Maine and build boats and after a few hours, I was ready to acquiesce. Of course, it was 75 degrees, the leaves were changing, and I was staying in a gorgeous hotel, so maybe I should reconsider come January.
I took many photos, they are heavy on the hotel room porn, as I took many for reference at work: K-port pix. Shooting the cooking show was awesome as they would bring us the samples at the end of each segment. You know how you can never re-create a dish perfectly that you see made on TV? It was pretty sweet to have the actual product made by the chef who will do it better than you ever could. They made lobster with fresh pasta, traditional fish and chips, and a souffle. Funny enough, none of the chefs at White Barn/their other properties are Mainers: they all have English and Scottish accents. Once it came time to do the b-roll and photo shoot of the Inns, I was somehow roped in as an extra. I was shot coming into the hotel, pretending to have tea, pretending to eat by the pool, etc. The high point (or low?) was being in the spa scene, coming out of the steam room, in a towel (a long, heavily secured towel at least). I felt like I was in a soft-core porn movie, but I rather enjoyed my short career as a b-roll/background artist. Now that's what I call PR!
So, overall, Kennebunkport is as cute as a button and charming as all hell. I was thrilled to stay at Breakwater, as it is close to "town" but right on the water. I had a spa suite since they were planning to shoot my room, it was just glorious. I had huge windows overlooking the harbor and a little patio to stand on and smoke furtively. At the end of the trip, a flight cancellation forced me to stay in town another night, and I stayed at another sister property, the Beach House Inn. The Beach House has the advantage of being right across from the ocean, so you actually hear the waves at night, but it is less convenient than Breakwater and has no spa or restaurant.
Food. Oh yes, it was good. The first night, I had oysters and tuna at Stripers, which is at Breakwater Inn. It is less formal than White Barn, but absolutely lovely and delicious. Second night, I went to Grissini, which I haven't stopped raving about (and I don't get paid to say that, they technically aren't one of my clients). It's a very warm, inviting space but very chic and modern without being stark. Just a great space with awesome pizza, and I'm from New York. Finally, I went to the famed White Barn, which is probably one of the finest restaurants in New England, if not north of New York (5 stars and all that jazz). Holy Moses, did I eat there. I was there for over three hours and would have liked to have been carried out on a stretcher. I started with a lobster spring roll as I still have a mild allergy to lobster and didn't want to get sick on a big portion, followed by a potato leek soup so good I nearly licked the bowl, then had a main entree of veal medallions and foie gras. Eh. Mah. Gah. I also had dessert and a slew of other little courses, courtesy of the chef since I was there to experience it for work. It's a hard job, but someone has to do it. It's not the sort of place I would ever go to on my own; as it is very fancy and formal (the median age for diners had to be at least 60), but one of those very special occasion places. And it's in a barn, which is fun.
There is not much nightlife to speak of in Maine, but much fun was had at Federal Jack's, which I affectionately called the townie bar. It is the only place in town that is open until 1am, so you may find yourself playing pool after dinner at White Barn with your waiter (which I did). Good times. Also watched a Red Sox game there which I don't recommend if you are not a fan, but for this Bostonian in New York, it was heaven. All in all, it was a really relaxing trip, which I understand is very atypical for business travel. The whole next week, back in New York, I kept sighing and saying, "I miss Maine."
*I recently discovered that Mainiac is actually sort of a derogatory term for Mainers, usually said by people from Massachusetts, who are in turn called Massholes.