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Updated: March 21, 2022

Kennebunkport hotelier invests $20M in Mount Desert Island resort

cottages and deck chairs Courtesy / Atlantic Hospitality Kennebunkport hotelier Tim Harrington is renovating a lodging property in Hulls Cove, a village gateway to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

A year after purchasing his second resort on Mount Desert Island, a Kennebunkport hotelier is investing $20 million to upgrade the property.

Last June, Tim Harrington bought the Colony Cottages, at 20 State Highway 3 in Hulls Cove, from Kim Swan of Swan Hospitality Group and Swan Agency Real Estate for an undisclosed price.

Hulls Cove is a village on Bar Harbor’s outskirts.

Harrington closed the deal just three months after Swan, a 2019 Mainebiz Women to Watch honoree, had bought the Colony.

“We thought it was an irreplaceable asset with terrific opportunity,” Harrington told Mainebiz. 

The new name will be Salt Cottages.

Harrington noted a recent article about the renovation generated buzz. 

“We got 500 emails that Monday for reservations,” he said.

Harrington is a partner and creative director of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection boutique luxury hotel group. His Kennebunkport hotel projects include the Tides Beach Club, Cape Arundel Inn & Resort, Hidden Pond Resort and Sandy Pines Campground. Harrington’s other businesses include Batson River Brewing and Distilling. 

person smiling
Tim Harrington

He began his career in the hotel business in 2005 with the purchase of Cottages at Cabot Cove. In keeping with the creative flair that drives his endeavors, he hired interior designers to individually decorate each cottage. The opening, a design showcase and fundraiser, drew 5,000 people in 10 days.

The Colony reminded him of that endeavor.

“I’m fascinated with little cottages,” he said. 

He didn’t attempt a showcase of multiple designers with the Colony, but did go for a high-end renovation, he said.

“No one had done anything to it since it was originally built,” he said. “It’s a gorgeous setting on Hulls Cove. It just wanted to be loved.”

The renovations are extensive and include new infrastructure systems and gut renovations of all the cottages. 

“It’s a little village,” he said of the setting. “We’ll do the same idea of super-design-forward, but with couples and families in mind.”

The seasonal property comprises 30 stand-alone cottages and 10 motel rooms on 15 acres, and 210 feet of beach across the street overlooking the waters of Bar Harbor. The resort sits to the north of the entrance to Acadia National Park’s Hulls Cove visitor center. 

The property includes an outdoor pool, stone fire pits, a game room and a “micro-store” selling Maine memorabilia. Food and beverage options include a full-service snack bar, grab-and-go options and an ice cream window.

The design theme is “Americana-inspired,” he said. 

Each cottage has a red door, ocean view, kitchenette, porch and outdoor garden patio. Interiors include white walls, soft-blue vaulted ceilings, neutral tones, bamboo and rattan, and “pops of patriotic colors,” according to a news release. Custom-made beds have white metal headboards. Soft-blue side tables were sourced from Maine Woodworks in Saco. Decorations include nautical antique art. Fixtures and furniture were designed by Schoolhouse Electric and Rejuvenation, both in Portland, Ore., and Sazerac Stitches New Orleans, La.

living room couch baskets
Courtesy / Atlantic Hospitality
Vintage finds such as artworks on the back wall are part of the redesign.

The purchase and renovation were financed with cash and through a loan with First National Bank.

Harrington said the goal for completing the work is June, with the opening scheduled for the Fourth of July weekend.

“We’re racing to finish. The weather’s cooperated,” Harrington said.

Harrington expects a strong return on his investment. “I’m super-bullish on the hospitality market for the island,” he said.

His outlook, he said, was borne out last summer with the success of his first Mount Desert Island hotel investment. 

In 2020, Harrington bought the Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor and embarked on renovations that, in total, including the purchase price, were “north of $20 million,” he said.

“Beyond our wildest dreams,” he said of the hotel’s 2021 season. “Full throughout the season, crazy bookings for this coming year.”

Jumpstarting Salt Cottages will be different, he said. Whereas the Claremont has over a century of history behind it with a generational customer base, Salt is “basically starting from scratch,” including building a website and market materials. Renovations have been challenged by global supply chain issues. 

“But our team has done really amazing stuff,” he said.

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