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Updated: March 12, 2021

After $25M purchase and renovations, 4 Kennebunkport inns will debut as 1 resort

Courtesy / Lark Hotels Nathaniel Lord Mansion, built in 1812, is an example of Federal period architecture.

A $25 million purchase and renovation of four neighboring Kennebunkport inns, once the homes of prominent local sea captains, will culminate this spring in a rebranding, forming the Kennebunkport Captains Collection resort.

The properties, owned by Newburyport, Mass.-based Lark Hotels, comprise the William Jefferds House, James Fairfield House, Nathaniel Lord Mansion and Acton Patterson House.

The structures date back to the early-19th century and were built by sea captains, all of whom were part of the Walker family, one of the first families to settle in the area.

After passing through generations of seafaring families, all four houses eventually transitioned to small boutique inns.

Unified properties

Lark Hotels unified the properties as a single “village resort” with 45 rooms and grounds that intersect one another.

Courtesy / Lark Hotels
James Fairfield House was built in 1813.

The four properties underwent redesigns and renovations this winter.

The campus is located around the village green and is close by the Kennebunk River and Dock Square. 

Jefferds House is open. Fairfield House is slated to open in April. Lord Mansion and Patterson House are expected to open in May.

The collection includes 45 guestrooms, ranging from single rooms to multiroom suites. Features include local art, working fireplaces, four-poster beds, soaking tubs and screened-in porches. Room rates range from $149 to $659 per night. 

Long-time tourist destination

Inspiration for the collection came to Lark Hotels founder and president Rob Blood almost two decades ago, when he bought the Fairfield, Lark Hotels CEO Peter Twachtman told Mainebiz.

Rick Wolf, who recently retired as partner and owner of the B&B Team in Kennebunk, owned and operated the Fairfield from 1999 until 2004, when he sold it to Blood.

About a year ago, Blood bought the Jefferds, the Lord and another inn, the Maine Stay, also in Kennebunkport.

Courtesy / Lark Hotels
Acton Patterson House was built in 1807.

The Patterson was created from a separate, four-room cottage on the Lord property, Twachtman explained.

The Mainstay is not being branded as part of the Captains Collection. Other plans, to be announced at a later date, are underway there, said Twacthman. 

The inns are in Kennebunkport’s residential historic district. 

Kennebunkport has been a tourist destination since the late 1800s. In addition to the Bush family compound at Walker’s Point, the attractions include local beaches, restaurants, galleries, shops, golf and close proximity to shopping destinations like Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H.

Lark Hotels, founded in 2012, has inns and restaurants in California, New England and New York.

In Maine, the company owns the Whitehall in Camden and in Portland, the Blind Tiger.

Pandemic interruption

The concept of a collection is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to pull the houses together and allow guests to move between them, said Twachtman.

Peter Twachtman

For example, guests might have morning tea at one and use the massage service at another, he said.

The pandemic interrupted 2020 plans to become acquainted with inn operations and guests in the way the ownership group would have liked, he said.

“Our plan was to ‘learn’ them a little bit, have time to think about renovations and what the campus will feel like as we learn the guests and they learn us and trust that we would be good stewards of the properties,” he said.

Then the pandemic hit. The inns closed.

“We said, ‘Why don’t we use the time thoughtfully to get ahead of our renovations?’” he continued.

Renovations across all four include new bathrooms, refinished flooring and new paint and wallpaper. 

Redesign was performed by Blood and Megan Kennedy, who together own Massachusetts interior design firm Elder & Ash. The two contracted with a manufacturing group in Portugal to make custom-designed furnishings, Twachtman said.

The goal of the redesigns, said Twachtman,w as to give each house a look of its own. 

The Jefferds, a Colonial style home, features a “soft neutral” color palette and original architectural details such as high ceilings and a curved staircase.

Redesign of the Fairfield, an early Federal period home, aimed for “artful and eclectic” with features that include abstract works of art by Maine artists.

The Patterson retained original woodwork and working fireplaces; added were features such as distressed leather furnishings. 

The goal for the Lord’s redesign was to achieve an “opulent” environment with the use of features such as four-poster beds and draperies.

Shared services

Common spaces include large gardens and a drawing room and library. Amenities include free bicycle use, electronic vehicle charging stations and a courtesy car.

Courtesy / Read McKendree
William Jefferds House is an 1804 Federal-style mansion located in the historic district of Kennebunkport.

During peak season,  the group will offer a free shuttle service to local amenities such as downtown shopping and the beach, said Twachtman. 

The group will also explore marketing a large barn on one of the properties as a wedding venue, he added. However, he continued, it’s not clear yet if the use would be allowed. Additionally, the inns are in a residential area.

“We want to be very respectful of the neighbors in doing everything in the right way,” he said.

All of the structures started out in excellent shape, Twachtman said. 

“The couples that owned them for years before this to took immensely great care of them,” he said.

The intention is to operate the four inns year-round, and the group inherited a number of employees who have stayed on.

“Some people have been at some of the properties for years,” Twachtman added.

Courtesy / Read McKendree
Features at William Jefferds House include a period spiral staircase, original wood floors and arched doorways.

Some employees moved on to other jobs.

The group hired a new general manager, Kristen Coullete, who formerly worked at another Kennebunkport lodging, he said.

The Jefferds reopened in October after renovations finished up. The Lord was open through the December holidays and then began renovations, which are still underway.

“I walked through it yesterday,” said Twachtman. “We’ve got tile on the bathroom floors. Showers are going in. The trim is painted out. There’s still some electrical to do. The goal is to have that open by May 1.”

A bunch of furniture was delivered to the Fairfield earlier this week. It will likely open mid-April. 

Work is underway at Patterson, which will likely open when Lord does.

Twachtman was a partner with Migis Hotel Group, a hospitality management company in Westbrook, for nearly 11 years. He sold his ownership share and partnered with Blood in January 2020. 

Rob Blood
Courtesy / Elder & Ash
Rob Blood, Lark Hotels president and principal at Elder & Ash.

“I’ve known Rob almost a decade,” he said. “We were colleagues and competitors, and became friends. We both do better work together. I think we identified that would be the case long ago.”

He loved working with the folks at Migis, he said, so the change was bittersweet.

For this year, he said, he’s  “conservatively optimistic” that the lodging industry will pick up as the pandemic winds down. Already, he said, the collection’s’ inns are starting to get calls for reservations.

“I think we’ll see a strong season, certainly much stronger than last year,” he said. “Probably not as robust as 2019, but we’ll get there.”

The “collection” concept is gaining steam in the area. Nine boutique hotels in Kennebunkport and Kennebunk, acquired by New York investment firm EOS Investors LLC a year ago, are known as the Kennebunkport Resort Collection.

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December 15, 2022

We have stayed at the Mainestay Inn Several times. It was impeccable. And i shudder to think of it changing to any great extent…

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