There’s a place we dream of — a cozy cabin retreat set among the tall pines where you can nestle up with a good book and soak in the nature around you. A place that offers privacy and serenity, a chance to unwind, disconnect and return to the outdoors. A place of comfort yet stillness, of opportunities for adventure, relaxation and letting the kids run free to explore their surroundings. This place is Hidden Pond Resort, and it goes beyond what we’d imagined.
Tucked away in Kennebunkport, Maine, Hidden Pond is home to an open studio art shed where kids and adults can unleash their imagination with origami, watercolors, sketching and more. It’s where guests can choose from an array of colorful bikes to explore the property or cycle to the nearby beach; warm, oversize blueberry muffins, milk and steaming hot coffee are delivered to your front porch every morning; and a nightly ritual of s’mores around the campfire completes your day. Hidden Pond is unequivocally in touch with its surroundings and provides a wonderful escape for the whole family. It is likely just the getaway your crew needs.
The natural beauty of Hidden Pond is immediately evident as you drive through the gates of this tranquil nature retreat, which encompasses 60 acres of birch groves and balsam firs on the southern coast of Maine. Choose from a morning yoga class, a swim in a heated pool, a mixology class, stargazing, sailing, whale watching and an array of activities specifically for kids, like tie-dying, painting, bingo and children’s hikes — to name a few. What Hidden Pond does best is create an even balance of luxury, comfort and fun for kids and adults alike. For this reason and more, it’s no surprise that it was named the No. 1 resort in New England by Condé Nast Traveler.
Our family was fortunate enough to visit Hidden Pond in early October. As we pulled up to our red, quintessentially Maine two-bedroom cottage, the kids discovered two tents with camping chairs, a plush “fire pit,” sleeping bags, stuffed animals, lanterns and more goodies set up just for them on the front porch. Immediately, they felt energized and special. Upon opening the door to our cottage, we were treated to a beautiful, spacious modern interior with a fireplace, a full-size kitchen, a room with built-in bunkbeds and two single beds, a king room, a spacious outdoor shower, plus tailored extras such as children’s picture books about the area, wine and locally made sweets and snacks. The welcome was above and beyond, setting the tone for a weekend during which Hidden Pond took care of our every need. A seasonal resort open from May to October, Hidden Pond has been described as a “sophisticated summer camp” and has all the characteristics of a wonderful New England spring, summer or fall family getaway.
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Hidden Pond is home to nearly 50 luxury hideaways: 10 treetop lodges, 16 two-bedroom New England-style cottages, and 19 one-bedroom bungalows for adults only (designed in partnership with fashion designer Todd Snyder). Our family of six stayed in a single-story two-bedroom cottage, which was spacious and charming, allowing everyone in our party plenty of room to relax. One bedroom featured a king bed with a luxurious and large bathroom that opened to a roomy outdoor shower. The second bedroom offered built-in bunkbeds, two single beds and a full bathroom. The rustic, eco-chic interior and earthy feel of the cottages syncs effortlessly with Hidden Pond’s natural surroundings.
Each cottage offers a fully equipped gourmet kitchen and a spacious living room with fireplace and flat-screen TV, a large screened-in porch, two bedrooms and an outdoor shower. Inside, you will always find something unique that connects back to Maine, whether that be a painting, a book, Maine maple syrup or another local treasure.
TIP: Request the kids’ camping package before arriving at Hidden Pond ($399 extra). The resort will fashion a kid-size tent on your porch, complete with sleeping bags, a plush fire pit, stuffed animals, lanterns, arts and crafts and more. You can place the tent wherever the kids might want to sleep: under the stars, on the screened-in porch or even inside the cottage (we speak from experience). And you get to take the tent, sleeping bags and goodies home with you upon departure.
Just when you think Hidden Pond can’t take things up another notch, it does — this time with its award-winning restaurant Earth, touted as one of the best restaurants in New England and maybe even the country. As the name implies, Earth’s focus is local, seasonal and organic, and chef Joe Schafer expertly turns Maine’s enormous bounty into a diverse menu of mouthwatering dishes featuring ingredients grown at Hidden Pond’s onsite organic farm, sourced from local farmers’ produce, and fished from the nearby ocean.
It’s not only resort guests who dine at Earth; New England residents from near and far come to enjoy a special meal in this suitably decorated haven, where the walls are built from trees cut to clear the site, local plants adorn the entryway and bar, and a huge stone fireplace presides over the dimly lit main dining room. Handmade pastas, house-made charcuterie and dishes like halibut with lobster risotto, Florentine cauliflower and cognac lobster sauce make up the menu. Cocktails also take inspiration from the farm-to-table movement with freshly muddled fruits and herbs from the garden. And for the pickiest of young eaters, Earth does offer a children’s menu. Buttered noodles for life!
TIP: Indulge in the four-course dinner menu to sample the best (and most) of what Earth has to offer.
For breakfast, every guest accommodation receives a complimentary no-knock delivery of warm pastries, a thermos of hot coffee and milk at 7 am each day. If your family is like ours and requires a second breakfast, Earth offers breakfast in the form of omelets, pancakes, Maine-grown grain porridge and more at the restaurant or via in-cottage dining. For lunch, try the permanent onsite food truck (next to the family pool and the main lodge), the Farm Bar (just outside of Earth and adjacent to the adults-only pool), or hop aboard Hidden Pond’s shuttle to Tides Beach Club, a sister property.
The main lodge at Hidden Pond smells divine, thanks to an eternally burning Maine Pine soy candle. It has a stone fireplace, sofas, board games, seasonal produce (for us it was crisp Kennebunkport apples picked at a local farm) and freshly baked cookies on offer, and opens onto a beautifully landscaped pool area, the Back Porch Bar and the woods beyond.
There are two heated outdoor pools (yes, my kids swam outdoors in October in Maine) — one for families, the second for adults only. The family pool is decked out with floats, floaties and dive toys. Adjacent to the family pool is the campfire area with dedicated chairs, a sand area and sand toys for the little ones, tetherball for older kids. Guests gather for a nightly campfire starting at 5pm. with s’mores and often bingo or trivia led by the resort staff. Hidden Pond also has a beautiful spa, the rooms of which are set in treehouses perched eight feet off the ground, as well as a fitness studio.
Hidden Pond has bikes of all sizes to borrow, a number of marked hiking trails around the property, hammocks and our family’s personal favorite: a drop-in open studio art shed decked out with every craft imaginable: tempera paint, glitter, paper airplane-making books, origami, felt fabric, pipe cleaners, colored pencils, watercolors, crayons and more. It is an artist’s heaven!
The number of activities Hidden Pond offers is impressive. While a few, like mixology, are adults-only, most activities are family-friendly. You can swim, hike (guided or on your own), bike, practice yoga, plant saplings or tour the vegetable garden with the gardener; Friday nights bring live music at the lodge.
In the summer, hop aboard the shuttle to Hidden Pond’s sister property, The Tides Beach Club, and kayak, SUP, enjoy the beach, attend Marine Science Camp (this one’s for kids) or go on a fishing trip. The schedule of activities offered by Hidden Pond is curated based on the season. We visited in early October, so the kids painted pumpkins, went on a haunted hike through the forest and created awesome Halloween-inspired tie-dye shirts. There was also an opportunity to make bath salts and body scrubs in the spa or make Christmas ornaments in the artist shed during our time at the resort.
The true gem of the activities program is Activities Manager Ryan Dolan. I have never met anyone who is more patient, kind, and better with kids than Ryan. At every turn, he engages them in art, makes them laugh, joins in their game of tetherball, helps them unwrap chocolate to make s’mores, leads them on hikes through the forest, offers to fully inflate giant floats and deliver them poolside and delivers crafts to the room. He understands what children like and what they are capable of at various ages, and he caters to each one individually. This level of hospitality and attentiveness, especially when it comes to kids, is truly rare.
Hidden Pond is located in the picturesque New England town of Kennebunkport on Maine’s southern coast, about an hour and a half north of Boston. It is part of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, a portfolio of boutique luxury properties known for great style and service along with fine wine and cuisine.
Kennebunkport is an iconic New England seaside town that leaves visitors smitten with its mix of boating, beaches, historic charm, old-fashioned ice cream shops and ultra-fresh lobster rolls. While summer in Kennebunkport is lovely, there’s also a case to be made for dropping in during the off-season. Come fall, the crowds disperse, the leaves began to change into a symphony of bright orange, yellow and red, and the earth becomes quieter and still.
Editor’s Note: Loren was hosted by Hidden Pond Resort in order to review the property for families. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Loren Braunohler.
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