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February 28, 2022

Strong income helps drive Bar Harbor hotel sale

hotel with flowers Courtesy / Stephen Coston The turnkey Bar Harbor Manor sold for $8.1 million to buyers who have scooped up other Bar Harbor lodging properties in recent years.

Sellers looking to retire plus strong income in a popular tourist town helped drive a recent hotel sale in Bar Harbor.

Stephen Coston and Brian Shaw bought the Bar Harbor Manor at 47 Holland Ave. from Brandan and Monika McCallion for $8.1 million. 

Kimberly Swan and Erica Brooks of Swan Agency Real Estate brokered the transaction.

The 43-room turnkey hotel is located on a side street in downtown Bar Harbor. 

The sale price was par for the course for the market.

“The income is very strong,” said Swan, who represented the sellers, who are retiring.

The property was “quietly” on the market for about three months, as Swan and Brooks talked with specific people as potential buyers.

When they approached Coston and Shaw, the deal quickly finalized, she said.

The Bar Harbor Manor is just one of a number of local hotels that have traded hands in recent years.

“Almost everybody who is selling had owned them for a long time,” Swan said. “There’s so much demand.”

Swan said she’s getting queries from both local and out-of-state buyers. Proximity to Acadia National Park is a plus.

“We’ve got so many out-of-state buyers dying to get in here,” she said. 

Bullish on Bar Harbor

Coston owns or co-owns a number of other hotels, all in downtown Bar Harbor:

person in yellow flannel smiling
Courtesy / Stephen Coston
Stephen Coston.

• Inn on Mount Desert, 68 Mount Desert St., built in 2018, year-round, co-owned by Coston and his parents

• Primrose Inn, 73 Mount Desert St., built in 1878, purchased in 2019, renovated, reopened in 2020, owned by Coston

• Manor House Inn, renamed Sand Bar Cottage, 106 West St., purchased in 2020, redesigned with Ethan Allen’s Portland Old Port Design Center, reopened 2021, owned by Coston. The original three-story cottage was built by Col. James Foster in 1887 and is listed with the National Register of Historic Places. Historic features include a butler’s pantry and original stained-glass windows

• Hearthside Inn, 7 High St., purchased in 2021, renovated, reopened 2021, owned by Coston

• Anchorage Motel, 51 Mount Desert St., purchased 2021, renovated, reopened 2021, co-owned by Coston and Shaw

• Quimby House, renamed Little Fig Hotel, 109 Cottage St., purchased 2021, currently under renovation, scheduled to re-open this May, co-owned by Coston and Shaw

• Bar Harbor Manor, 47 Holland Ave., purchased 2021, turn-key, scheduled to re-open this April, co-owned by Coston and Shaw

• Main Street Motel, 315 Main St., purchased 2022, currently under renovation, scheduled to re-open this June, co-owned by Coston and Shaw

The properties range in age from the mid-1800s to 2018.

Fruitful partnership

What’s driving the acquisitions? 

“I grew up here,” said Coston. “I’ve worked in lodging in Bar Harbor my whole life.”

Coston was in middle school when he first started working in lodging in Bar Harbor. 

“It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in Maine and Bar Harbor in terms of the desirability for people to come and visit.”

The Inn on Mount Desert was a ground-up construction and most of the other properties have required some degree of renovation. The Bar Harbor Manor is his first acquisition in the past three years that’s turnkey. 

hotel with tree and sign
Courtesy / Stephen Coston
Coston’s first property, built from the ground up, was Inn on Mount Desert, opened in 2018.

“We’re not changing anything,” he said.

Shaw is a general contractor and owner of Brian D. Shaw Inc. in Bar Harbor who handled construction of the Inn on Mount Desert. That’s how Coston got to know him.

“I was extremely satisfied both with the job he did and with what a nice person he is,” Coston said. 

A few years later, the two partnered for the first time to buy the Anchorage. That purchase and subsequent ones have leveraged the skills of both partners.

“He makes sure the properties are in top condition and executes improvements,” said Coston. “My department is to run the operation.”

inn with cars
Courtesy / Stephen Coston
In 2019, Coston bought the Primrose Inn, dating back to 1878.

Coston said he and Shaw were acquainted with the sellers of the Bar Harbor Manor.

“We have a relationship with them and we knew they did a really good job running it,” he said. “The customers they have are really happy with it. And it’s got a great location downtown. It was something where this is small town, we knew them, started a conversation and ended up buying it.”

Financing for the deal came from First National Bank.

Despite the uncertainties of 2020, the acquisitions in 2020 and 2021 build on Bar Harbor’s position as a tourism magnet.

“The 2021 season was strong,” Coston said. 

From his perspective as the owner of smaller boutique properties, he said, the peak months of July and august were about as strong as past years while the shoulder months — May/June and September/October – were significantly busier than they’ve been in the past. 

“There was a lot of enthusiasm for coming here in the shoulder season last year,” he said.

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