When it comes to pet-friendly travel in Maine, the Inn by the Sea, in Cape Elizabeth, does everything right. So says Bernie, my almost-five-year-old Leonberger (no, not a cheese, a big, furry dog). Bernie and I recently spent a night at this beachfront boutique inn: 24 hours of pure dog bliss.
It began with check-in, where I think Bernie got as big, if not a bigger welcome, than I did. The desk staff, bell man, housekeepers, and other inn workers all fussed over him. Treats? Of course, but only after asking me if giving him one (or two) was okay.
I asked where Bernie was permitted to go inside the inn. “As long as he’s leashed, he can go everywhere except the spa and the restraurant,” was the reply. “If you want to eat with Bernie, you can have dinner in the lounge, and he can eat there, too.” I was shown the Doggy Menu (PDF).
In our room—one of 17 designated pet-friendly rooms—we found two bowls, a big inn-made bone-shaped dog treat, dog bed, and plastic poop bags for clean-up during walks. Armed with bags, we headed down the inn’s boardwalk to the beach, only to learn that the beach itself is closed to dogs from April—October. We settled for the dirt road paralleling the beach (only used by park maintenance staff).
By the time we returned, it was dinner time for Bernie. I read him the menu choices, and after much deliberation—he couldn’t decide between the Meat “Roarff,” Doggy Gumbo, and The Bird Dog—he finally opted for the latter: grilled chicken served with steamed rice and raw veggies, and dessert: another one of those large bone-shaped dog cookies. Dog after my own heart, he devoured the chicken, sniffed at the rice and veggies, then went straight for dessert.
Later that evening, Bernie held court fireside in the lounge, charming just about everyone present—one by one, they came over to say hi and pet him, and Bernie just ate it up. When we returned to the room, turn-down included cookies for me and special treats for Bernie, who by this time is ready to move in, whether or not I stick around. Talk about a spoiled pooch.
After another nice walk the next morning, we checked out. Or rather, I did; Bernie was getting so much attention that he wanted to stay another night. He even tried to bribe the woman on the desk with a kiss.
Next time, Bernie wants me to book the Inncredible Pets package, including two nights lodging, Maine-made dog toy, personalized L.L. Bean dog bed, a 30-minute inroom doggie massage, nightly entree from the Doggy Menu, and nightly pet turndown service with locally made seasonal dog treat; rates begin around $360 per night.
For a less pricey option, consider the Habitat for Humanity promotion: With a minimum donation of $35 to the international nonprofit, book a two-bedroom cottage at the inn at rates beginning around $140 (dates still available include Sunday through Thursday nights through May 26).
Bottom Line: Bernie awarded the four-star property with four paws up.