Mention Maine, and what immediately comes to mind? Lobster, am I right?
Of course, there are many memorable things about Maine: the rugged New England coast, lighthouses galore (there are 60 historic lighthouses), and being “in nature” — whether on the water, hiking the majestic mountains, or basking in the serenity from a lakeside dock – put the phone down and tune in to the wild birdsong, listen for the call of the loon and, depending on where you are, catch glimpses of some of Maine’s abundant wildlife including moose, black bears, puffins, and whales.
This was our first time staying at Migis Lodge, a quintessential cottage resort in Maine, and we enjoyed every relaxing minute of it. For two decades, my husband’s family summer vacation tradition was trooping up to the Adirondacks to a place called Big Moose Lake in upstate New York — the tradition continued even after he moved to California and we were married. This annual sojourn required a full day of flying cross country, then a six-hour drive, with only one pit stop (nearly impossible with three girls in tow), the next day. Last year, our eldest daughter, a Boston wedding planner, discovered Migis Lodge on a site visit with a client. She and her chef husband own two Boston restaurants and, with three young, very active children, desired more amenities during their family summer vacation – like a kid’s program and healthier, more upscale food choices than what we had experienced at the former. I was overjoyed to finally have others in my culinary corner as the quality of the food had always been an issue for me, but I was in the minority all those years…
Since 1916, Migis Lodge has operated as a Full American Plan resort on the northern edge of Sebago Lake in South Casco, Maine. Hotels and resorts characterized by the Full American Plan were the classic models for destination vacations back in the day — think “Dirty Dancing”, which takes place in 1963 in the Catskill Mountains of upstate NY. Tradition played an important role at these resorts as families would book “their week” for next year upon checkout, a time-honored tradition passed down from generation to generation. The week was focused on family time, rest, relaxation, and pampering and included all meals, outdoor sports and activities, cocktail hours, and entertainment. All-inclusive resorts are today’s equivalent but without the tradition aspect, somehow makes it seem less meaningful.
Perusing the menus in advance, I was excited to see that lobster was an entree choice at dinner every night! Since I was going to be there only two nights, I vowed to have lobster each night, and I did. Dinner, except for Saturday’s cookout, is in the Dining Room in the Main Lodge and, respectful of tradition, guests “dress” for dinner — men wear slacks and a sport coat, and women in dresses, skirts, dress pants or capris. Tables are elegantly set with candles, flowers, stemmed glassware, and gold-rimmed plates. Don’t think that dinner is a stuffy affair, with a gorgeous view of the lake, courteous and knowledgeable servers, a respectable wine list as well as beer and seasonal cocktails, and well-prepared dishes featuring local, fresh ingredients, it has all the makings of a memorable evening. Plus, at the evening meal, young children dine in a separate area with their camp “counselors”, which maintains a level of decorum and allows adults to engage in conversation and enjoy a leisurely 5-course meal, with wine and cocktails if you choose. Priceless!
Broiled Maine Lobster #1
Also, they know how to cook lobster in Maine – no mushy, tough overcooked lobster here!
Following Friday’s dinner, guests were invited to gather around the fire for a bit of music and marshmallow toasting framed by the silhouette of tall pines against a dramatic night sky. These special moments are what memories are made of.
There are all kinds of outdoor activities to enjoy during your stay at Migis Lodge and canoes, kayaks, small motor boats, standup paddleboards, fishing poles, tennis courts, and a well-equipped alfresco gym are all available to guests and included in the per person rate of your lodging.
We rented a pontoon boat on our last day so the whole family could go out, but it was a little too windy for good fishing. William had better luck in calmer waters, fishing from a kayak. And, if you catch a “keeper”, we learned that the kitchen will gladly cook it for you for dinner if you like. Speaking of dinner, Saturday marks the end of most guests’ week stay, and cocktail hour is moved to the grassy area near the boat dock and dinner is a grand buffet complete with grilled lobster beneath the towering pine trees overlooking the water.
Grilled Lobster for dinner #2! Clam chowder, fresh corn, cornbread, and salad rounded out my dinner alfresco.
After a day on the water, we were tuckered out and retired early to our cozy cabin after a nightcap on the veranda at the Main Lodge.
Migis Lodge passed our critical test and we plan on returning next year. Just like that, a new family tradition is born, and we look forward to making more treasured memories in the years to come.
MIGIS LODGE on Sebago Lake
P.O. Box 40, South Casco, Maine
For more information visit Migis Lodge’s website.
Coincidentally, only days before our arrival, the results of the Down East World’s Best Lobster Roll Competition came across my news feed. While the champion is not from Maine, I thought you might be interested in knowing who the winner is, in case you are traveling to Atlanta, GA!
Executive Chef Andrew Isabella of BeetleCat in Atlanta, Georgia, took home the top honors at Down East’s World’s Best Lobster Roll Competition. Isabella’s roll was filled with fresh Maine Lobster meat and served on a buttery toasted slider bun. Ben and Lorin Smaha from Freshies Lobster Co. in Park City, Utah captured the title of the “World’s Best Lobster Roll” at last year’s inaugural event and came in second place this year. Bob’s Clam Hut from Kittery, Maine came in third place.
Ten semi-finalists competed at the event which drew more than 400 people who were able to sample all ten rolls and vote electronically. The winners were voted on by the nearly 400 attendees, while the local “celebrity” judge’s pick was Chef Moses Sfez of Homer from Paris, France. Really? Chef Isabella won the title of world champion and a check for $1,000, and will be featured on a page in Down East magazine. Second place received $500, and third place was awarded $250.
Planning your next family vacation? Pin this collage to your boards! Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful rest of the summer!