Suite dreams at the Portland Harbor Hotel

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Tough assignment, staying at the Portland Harbor Hotel and checking out the new suites. Bottom line, if you can swing it, book one.

img_8480Now Maine isn’t a state that’s big on the luxury schtick. No Four Seasons, no Ritz Carlton. Sure, there are some boutique B&Bs and small inns that do fussy well, but this is the first Portland hotel to really do the red carpet treatment.

Can’t think of another place where you can practically swim (yes, I mean swim, it’s humongous) in the whirlpool tub (supposedly for two, but heck, you could have a pool party in it) while watching the flames flicker in the fireplace AND view the flat screen simultaneously. Separate shower is equally oversized, with two shower heads and a bench. And two sinks. And, well, let’s just say the bathroom is larger than many a starter New York apartment.

Not much not to like here. If I have to draw upon my inner curmudgeon, well, the fake apples should be real and there should be more outlets near the desk. I had to unplug the phone to plug in my laptop. It was either that or the light, and I’ve got this thing about seeing what I’m typing. Like I said, minor complaints. I mentioned the outlet to the manager, and I have no doubt that will be corrected.

Decor is modernesque, beige tones, cool artwork, hardwood floors with area rugs. Nice change from the usual hotel vibe. Furniture is comfy, especially the bed. Nice white duvet, nightly turndown with robes, slippers, and chocolate lobsters. Gotta like that.

And downstairs in this new section of the hotel is the new fitness room. Greatly expanded (thank you!), with nice aerobic equipment (with TVs and iPod docks) and weights. No stretching area, but hey, can’t have everything. Big restrooms with showers provide a place for guests who stay beyond checkout to change before the long slog home. And a small spa, operated by Nine Stones, is expected to open soon, probably in March.

Breakfast was fine. Eve’s has a stellar rep., but the chef is leaving to start his own restaurant in the former Mim’s location. Hotel manager is upbeat about it. “Change is good, it’s good to mix things up and get new ideas,” he told me. Smart man. He’s already revewing a stack of resumes, so stay tuned foodies.