Guests of West Street and Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina don’t always realize the amazing amenity they have access to when they stay here: the Bar Harbor Club, holding more than just Gilded Era history, but amazing ways to make the most out of your Bar Harbor vacation
When guests retreat to Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina and West Street Hotel, they usually know they’re just a stone’s throw away from Frenchman Bay and all the attractions of the village and Acadia National Park. But there’s another amazing amenity at their fingertips that they don’t always realize they have access to: The Bar Harbor Club, the stately Tudor-style building perched on the edge of the bay adjacent to the Harborside Hotel and just across and down the street from West Street Hotel. Originally built by J.P. Morgan in 1929, the club was once the major social center on Mount Desert Island for the Gilded Era elite, with names like Rockefeller and Pulitzer.
But after a renovated in 2009, the hallowed walls of this club now hold more than just history. Here, we break down the best ways to take advantage of the Bar Harbor Club and all the amenities in order to retreat like a Rockefeller.
Take the Sandy Way Here
As we mentioned, the Bar Harbor Club centrally located near both Harborside and West Street hotels just off of West Street, but Deb Jordan, the resorts’ director of sales, recommends ditching the roadside walk in favor of taking the sandy route. “You can walk from Harborside Hotel down our private beach all the way to the Pool House,” explains Jordan. And Frenchman Bay isn’t the only prime real estate this club has access to. “During low tide, a sandbar reveals itself in the bay right in front of the club, so you can spend the morning swimming here, then walk across the short sandy stretch to Bar Island to pick shells or explore the island’s walking trails,” adds Jordan. Just be sure to take note of when the tide comes in next; strandings do happen!
Witness Restored Relics of History
While admiring the grandeur of the club’s 75-foot pool, 11,000-square-foot Pool House, four-room spa (which, at the moment, is temporarily closed), and massive 25,000-gallon hot tub, guests may never guess that the property was once vacant for years after being shut down in 1986. But thanks to the oversight of Harborside Hotel’s Eben Salvatore, who actually grew up at the club, the grandeur of the club’s heyday of the 1920s and 1930s can be found fully restored throughout the building. Look for the triangular pattern of the stucco that was found in the original building, as well as replicas of the original wall art and colors and furnishings that represent nearly a century of hospitality.
Visit the Pool House
Adjacent to the original Bar Harbor Club, the two-story Pool House was built to complement the aesthetic of its predecessor. “It has the same old-world style and feel of the Bar Harbor Club’s original atmosphere,” says Jordan. A great feature when you’re looking to summer like an early-twentieth-century tycoon, the Pool House also offers many creature comforts you may be looking for during a pool day, including a comfortable locker room and a game room to escape to when you need a break from the summer sun. But perhaps everyone’s favorite Pool House feature comes in the form of a cool drink and a five-star snack. The pool bar has a litany of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages and some quintessential Maine bites including, of course, the state’s most cherished sea dweller: lobster.
Get a Workout In
Sure, the Bar Harbor Club offers plenty of ways to get your seat on, including the spa’s state-of-the-art fitness center and three outdoor clay tennis courts overlooking Frenchman Bay. But we think a workout while vacationing in coastal Maine means that everything should have an aquatic twist. The swimming pool at the Bar Harbor club runs right along the water’s edge and is half the size of an Olympic swimming pool – 75 feet long – guaranteed to satisfy the swimmer in all of us. Although it may be ideal for laps, we can’t blame you if all you want to do is swing your legs over the pool’s edge and take in the view of the bay – the ocean’s edge is literally 10 feet away from the pool.
Meet & Mingle
But the club isn’t only just available to vacationing guests. Its grand setting and multiple facilities also serve as the ultimate destination for a larger group gathering – think a wedding ceremony on the club lawn overlooking the bay or a round-robin tennis retreat for a company outing. Whatever your event goals or whether your group is 10 or 300 people, the club’s experienced staff are well-suited to execute your unique vision – custom menus, personalized ceremonies, and themed receptions and all. And not only are all the amenities of the club at you and your guests’ fingertips, so too are all of that on Frenchman Bay and in Acadia National Park and the village of Bar Harbor. Don’t be afraid to throw in an afternoon of sightseeing in the Gulf of Maine with Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company. Or seeing sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, Acadia’s highest peak. Or shopping the many boutiques in downtown Bar Harbor.