- When: 26 January – 28 January, 2018
- Where: The Bethel Inn Resort, Bethel, ME
- Transportation: 3.5-4 hr drive from Boston
- Must see/do: Sunday River Ski Resort, Newry ME, Nubble Lighthouse, York, ME
- Food/drinks: Portland, ME : Fore Street Restaurant, Duckfat, The Honey Paw Restaurant. Bethel, ME: breakfast- Cafe DiCocoa, dinner- Millbrook Tavern and Grille (at the Bethel Inn Resort)
Let’s just say- winters in New England can be rough. It gets cold, we have snow, short and dark days – you get the picture. To put it politely- it is NOT my favorite season by far. In fact, when I started dating Sean (it was summer and all was right in the world) I warned him that he might not want to hang out with me, come November. I said- “Depression Season will come and I am not going to be the same person, just FYI”. Well, that did not scare him away (thankfully 🙂 !) and now we are bracing the winters together.
Typically we try to book our main yearly vacation in winter and go someplace warm- where the only white substance touching our toes is beach sand. This year is different. We got married in November, had our family cruise in the Caribbean right after, and decided to postpone our tropical honeymoon until the end of March. Which means- we have three long winter months in Boston to survive. There are just so many back- to-back Netflix shows to watch, hot cocoa (or wine) to drink and organizing of the house to do before you start going stir crazy. To add some outdoorsy activities in the sedentary winter life, we booked our mini getaway to Sunday River Ski Resort.
The drive takes almost four hours from Boston. We left Friday afternoon and broke it up by stopping in Portland, ME for dinner. On the way back, we made two stops- Portland for lunch and York, ME for some ocean views.
We chose The Bethel Inn Resort based on the cost and the proximity to Sunday River Ski Resort- only 15 min drive. I found it on Bookings.com and the price seemed reasonable, with pretty good reviews of the place. Well, I have to say- it’s not a high end resort and definitely not as glamorous as it seemed in the pictures.
When we arrived, receptionist greeted us with :” Two rooms for one night?” And we were “Huh?” Why would we need two rooms for two people and we are here for the weekend! Luckily the place was not sold out and she was able to accommodate us in the same room for the two nights, but at the end of the day we felt it was a bit overpriced. We did not realize that hotel has 18% resort fee and 9% state taxes that were not part of our paid in advance $170 per night cost. It’s our own fault for not reading the very small print on the bookings.com website. The room we got was in the main building, which was convenient as it was connected to the restaurant. It was big, had a fire place (which turned on by itself in the middle of the night as apparently that’s how the room is heated). Bed was comfortable and overall it was fine, but the place could use a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Talking about walls- they are cardboard thin. We had to turn on a fan to block out someone snoring in the next room 🙂 !
We were very excited about the heated outdoor pool and what we thought was jacuzzi after the day on the slopes. It was OK. The water was not as hot as expected and there was no jacuzzi- just a couple of jets in one area that were blowing lukewarm water. We enjoyed the sauna and the swim, but overall did not spend much time in the pool- there were a lot of kids jumping in it and we started getting chilly pretty quick.
Resort has a gym as well- in case skiing is not enough of a workout 🙂 – we did not set foot in it as we were sore already. By the way- if you plan on staying here and want to spend time in the gym/sauna/pool- HIGHLY recommend bringing your own robes. The Health Center is a separate building and to get to it you need to cross the parking lot. So having our own plush robes was amazing. We saw people schlepping back to their rooms and shivering after the swim.
Do NOT get breakfast there- $20 all you can eat buffet is not worth it and $10 Continental breakfast would be ok if all you want is oatmeal, some fruit and pastries. There is incredible caffe 2 min drive from the resort with handmade bagels- I’ll talk about it in the FOOD section. Restaurant for dinner on site was definitely a big plus. I will talk about that later on as well. Would we stay here again? Maybe. But perhaps with slightly lower expectations.
TIME ON THE SLOPES
We came here to spend time outside, so enough about the resort 🙂 ! Sunday River is where we want to be and we got there in no time- location was the biggest advantage of the Bethel Inn.
The weather was perfect- mid 30ies, some sun, barely any ice on the mountain- could not have been much better conditions! We got there around 10am- why rush! We knew that first time on the mountain this year will tire us out pretty quick. It’s open till 4pm, so we had good six hours for the fun, the falls and the laughs. A couple of good friends joined us and we had a great time!
My advice- buy lift passes online and in advance- we saved at least $20 by doing so. Sunday River is huge- 8 interconnected peaks, 130+ trails, 11 lifts, freestyle terrain, family zone- there is something for everyone! We mostly went on the green and blue trails, but there are some very steep back and double black diamonds for those that are interested. To have a mountain like this less than four hour drive from Boston is pretty amazing!We only snowboarded/skied Saturday- by the end of the day the whole body hurt from the use of muscles we did not know we had 🙂 . Sunday was for relaxing and EATING.
Fore Street Restaurant
If you read any of my previous posts, you know by now that Sean and I LOVE to eat. Every trip we take, food is something we don’t ignore, and we always make an effort to try some new places when visiting the same city. Portland, ME has a TON of great restaurants. We’ve been here over a year ago when we went to Acadia National Park (read “Fall In Love with Maine” post). This time we stopped in Portland for dinner on Friday- it helped to break up the trip, as it’s just under two hours from Boston. The friend recommended Fore Street Restaurant in downtown area and we were VERY happy we went. We showed up at 5.30pm with no reservations and the place was already packed !
Luckily the restaurant holds a third of their tables for walk-ins, so we did not have to wait long. Bar/lounge area was comfortable, the apps and the drink with rosemary was delicious and about 30-40 min later our table was ready.
We really liked the atmosphere- the open concept where you can see the staff slicing the bread, chef working at the brick oven, wine shelves. The food was great too- we shared Atlantic Char and a side of garlic mashed potatoes- yumm!
This is a very popular Portland restaurant and we’ve been here on our previous trip. Sunday, on the way back, we stopped in Portland for lunch and I was craving Duckfat french fries and their famous milkshakes 🙂 . The wait for two people was 40min, which we were too hungry to stand around for, so we ordered the fries and shakes to go. Even that was going to be 20min. To avoid getting HANGRY, we took the buzzer (it reaches for several blocks!) and went to the restaurant across the street- The Honey Paw.
The Honey Paw
This was our first time here and we killed the time waiting for the Duckfat order by getting more food 🙂 . The beer, the egg/pork croquettes AND the fried chicken biscuit were amazing!
Absolutely worth a stop if you are in Portland! Just as we finished and paid, it was time to go get our fries and milkshakes 🙂 !
Do yourself a favor and go to this little coffee shop if you are in the area! Besides the fact that it’s so cute, the food is AMAZING. It’s not a place for meat lovers as all of the meals were vegetarian (except for the smoked salmon).
It IS a place for you if you love croissants, hand shaped bagels, incredible lox sandwich (The New Yorker) and a good coffee. I wish they had a Boston branch 🙂 !
Millbrook Tavern and Grille
I don’t know if we would have gone to this restaurant if we haven’t been staying at the Bethel Inn Resort. We were SO tired after skiing all day, that all we had the energy for was to go couple floors down to the restaurant, conveniently located right in the building. As mentioned earlier, breakfast at the resort was disappointing, so we did not come with high expectations for dinner either. And we were pleasantly surprised! I had Spinach Beet and Goat cheese salad with steak tips, Sean enjoyed Chicken Scallopini -both meals were delightful!
The best part though was the dessert! Homemade New York Cheesecake with raspberry sauce was to die for ( did not even take a pic, it was so amazing, we practically inhaled it 🙂 ). The place also makes their own caramel sauce- we got that on the side and used it as an addition to the s’mores (gluttony to the next level 🙂 )! We ordered this dessert mainly for the experience – how often do you get to cook s’mores on a restaurant table?!
Well, I can safely say that we’ve replenished all of the calories we burned on the mountain and more 🙂 !
This was unplanned, but a very nice little detour on the way home. We had no rush to get back after all the food in Portland, so decided to stop by the Nubble Lighthouse and walk around the Long Sand Beach in York, ME.
Sometimes all you need is to see the beach, touch the ocean and get a reminder that summer will come at some point…
The day will come when I’ll be back on this beach in a bikini and not in a winter hat 🙂 Until then- keep dreaming of summer and enjoy the mini getaways!
It was such a fun little escape from reality. We were away for only two nights, yet it felt much longer. Maybe winter is not so bad when you find fun activities to keep you busy? Maybe we can learn to love this season too? Yea, that’s not likely for me 🙂 .But until the weather gets warmer we’ll be working on finding new ways to stay positive and entertained. No winter lasts forever.