Categories: General Date: Mar 22, 2012 Title: Discover Lobstering, Surfing, Cooking Adventures in Maine
BostonHerald.com| Thursday, March 22, 2012
Maine is living up to its "Vacationland" moniker.
With spring vacations and summer just around the corner, the New England Inns & Resorts Association — a collection of more than 250 independently owned resorts — has put together a full roster of "INNrichment Packages."
If reading a book by the pool or laying on the beach is your idea of a great vacation — look elsewhere. These trips get guests moving, learning and experiencing authentic New England traditions — hauling seafood, surfing, even discovering new cooking techniques.
You go to Maine, you get lobster — it's just the way it is. But actually baiting and pulling traps, measuring keepers and learning to live the life of a Maine lobsterman puts an entirely new perspective on the process. Catch the Maine Experience puts four guests on the Lucky Catch — a working lobster boat cruising the waters of Casco Bay. Captain Tom leads the crew as guests and old salts together haul lobster pots and motor past the Portland Head Light just outside the shipping channel in Casco Bay.A day on the water is followed by dinner for four at the Portland Lobster Co. (180 Commercial St., Portland). Crack into your day's catch — just pulled from the cold Atlantic waters off the Maine coast — as fishing boats drift by just outside. Guests are also given a $50 gift certificate for side orders and drinks.
It's not all work, however. Once ordained an honorary Maine lobsterman, it's time to retire to the Inn by the Sea (40 Bowery Beach Rd., Cape Elizabeth). The package includes two nights in a two-bedroom cottage overlooking the Atlantic on a mile-long stretch of sandy coastline. The resort — a AAA Four Diamond property — is made up of 57 renovated one- and two-bedroom suites, a full spa, a new fireplace bar, indigenous gardens and a boardwalk down to Crescent Beach. Cape Elizabeth is a two-hour drive from Boston, just outside Portland. Packages start at $1,093 and are available May 31 through Oct. 4. (For more information, go to www.innbythesea.com.)
Envision skimming across the top of a cresting wave as it builds to a curl hurtling toward shore. Maine isn't just going upta camp, red hot dogs and Moxie — it's also about some fine surfing. Yes, really. The Om & Foam Maine Surfing Escape at the Meadowmere Resort (74 Main St., Ogunquit) will have guests standing tall above the swelling waves just off Ogunquit beach — a 10-minute walk from the Meadowmere.
"The waves can get pretty substantial," said Allyson Cavaretta, director of sales and marketing at the Meadowmere. "You can surf from June to September, and in September the waves can get to be pretty good size."
The deeper into hurricane season, the larger the waves, thanks to storms off the southeastern United States. Cavaretta would know — she's hopped up on a board herself.
"Longboarding is a little easier because of the nature of the shelf," she said of the long, gentle slope of the Ogunquit shoreline. "It's a great spot to learn. It's very approachable."
The pros will provide tips and instruction, and will also fit guests with a wet suit and the proper board.
Her best advice?
"Pick September if you want a challenge, and pick June if you're just beginning."
First things first, though: It all starts with a yoga lesson to limber up. Guests can take their yoga lesson on the beach — the instructor normally teaches Hatha yoga — or at the instructor's studio just minutes away. Beginners can also opt for a simple stretching class.
The package includes accommodations for three nights, breakfast, the surf lesson, yoga lesson, Surf-rider Gift Bag and access to the resort's health club, heated pool and Roman bath. Ogunquit is an hour-and-20-minute road trip from Boston up I-95 and the Maine Turnpike. Packages start at $249 per person and will be available June 1 to Sept. 30. (For more information. call 800-633-8718 or go to www.meadowmere.com.)
For those with culinary skills — or those who wish they had them — the weeklong Tuscan Foodie Adventure with Italian chef Benedetta Vitali at the Hartstone Inn could stoke the fires of a burgeoning passion.
Students will learn under the watchful eye of Vitali, a chef, teacher, author and restaurateur who has lived and worked all of her life in Florence, Italy. She's the author of the James Beard Award finalist book, "Soffritto: Tradition and Innovation in Tuscan Cooking," in which she teaches about learning to cook as Italians do — by engaging all of the senses instead of being tied to a recipe. It's this approach she'll bring to the package at the Hartstone Inn and Hideaway (41 Elm St., Camden).
The Inn is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Boston, located in Maine's midcoast region. The weeklong Tuscan cooking package is only available to guests of the Inn, and includes five nights lodging (Sunday through Thursday) and breakfast for two each morning on this historic Mansard-style bed and breakfast's sunny porch. Guests will experience six cooking courses, two tastings, a Sunday welcome dinner (Maine lobster bake on the beach) and get to take home a Hartstone Inn apron. Would-be Tuscan chefs will take part in excursions, including a fresh mozzarella-making class at the State of Maine Cheese Co. (461 Commercial St., Rockport), an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting at Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars (8 Rodick Place, Bar Harbor) and a wine tasting and private tour of the Cellardoor Winery (47 West St., Rockport).
Packages include accommodations in a traditional room ($1,250), a superior room ($1,500) or a suite ($1,650). The package is based on a single participant taking part in the course, though a second person can be added for an additional $525. The weeklong experience is limited to 14 participants. (For more information, call 800-788-4823 or go to www.hartstoneinn.com).
The New England Inns & Resorts Association's INNrichment packages are available in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Maine.
POSTED BY BILL BURKE, THE TRAVEL GUY, MARCH 22, 2012
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