This Maine Resort Has Heated Igloos, an Ice Bar, and an Oceanfront Hot Tub for a Magical Winter Getaway
Living in Maine comes with the gift of being able to experience a place in a totally different way come winter. When I walked into the lobby of the Samoset Resort in Rockport, the panoramic view showcased a fresh January snowfall blanketing the championship golf course, where cross-country skiers were making sure the greens still felt a purpose.
In the backdrop, the Atlantic looked a little mightier than it does in the summer. But the cold didn't stop guests from venturing across the mile-long rocky breakwater to catch an up-close glimpse of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse.
In fact, it's this brisk air that allows chefs from various properties in the Opal Collection to bring their carving skills to the Midcoast for the annual Glacier Ice Bar and Lounge. In January, 50,000 pounds of ice blocks are delivered and chiseled to perfection to create the sculptures and outdoor bar and lounge for hotels guests and the local community to enjoy.
"Winter in the Midcoast is beautiful, but can be harsh, so providing the community a reason to come together and celebrate the season has become a tradition," said general manager Connie Russell. "Guests from near and far have attended repeatedly and appreciate the time and effort it takes to pull this event together."
To ensure guests can take full advantage of the weekends-only operating hours during the off-season, Samoset offers a noon check-in time on Friday, with the opportunity to stay until 3 p.m. on Sunday. For those traveling with kids like myself, it was a welcome option to let the little ones have as much time bouncing between the pool, hot tub, gaming area, and large activity room before the car ride home. Tip: Book the Hot Tub Suite to watch the snow fall from your balcony, but head back to the lobby in time for s'mores by the fire before bedtime.
A handful of cottages also dot the property, offering mesmerizing views of the golf course and vast, open landscape along the 230 oceanfront acres. The Flume Cottage, in particular, is a showstopper, built into Maine's infamous rocky coastline, with an outdoor deck and hot tub hovering above the bay as the waves crash below. The 1,500-square-foot space is luxurious and relaxing, far from the main building, giving guests the vibe that they're on a private island, but with all the resort amenities just across the fairway.
There's also no shortage of iconic Maine dishes to try this time of year. At La Bella Vita, the main on-site restaurant, my salmon dinner came with lobster risotto, and I tried the lobster Benedict the next morning. It was fun to see a menu starring so many Italian options with a local twist.
Russell said heated igloos are a new addition this winter, too, providing a unique way to experience outdoor dining in Maine, no matter the temperature.
Samoset's location also allows guests to easily experience the charming destinations of Camden and Rockland, both of which have plenty of shops and restaurants operating during the off-season. Outdoor enthusiasts will like being close to the Camden Snow Bowl, where you can hit the slopes and perhaps try something new: a ride down the renowned toboggan chute.
As someone who lives inland, there is truly something magical about a visit to the Midcoast region during the winter. Even though I may live in a neighboring county, the Samoset Resort makes me feel like I've been transported to a majestic land full of tranquility and inspiration.