Maine's premier coastal resort
For over a century, The Samoset Resort has been considered the premier coastal resort location in Maine, renowned for spectacular and expansive views of Penobscot Bay and distant islands, with the soft Camden Hills rising to the east, and the spacious grounds of Jameson Point to the west. The Samoset Resort's history is full of people having come to Maine specifically to enjoy this beauty.
The Bay Point Hotel opened on July 4, 1889. Built and operated by Francis Cobb II, a well-known entrepreneur of the day, the Bay Point was sold in 1902 to the Ricker family, owners and operators of the splendid Poland Springs House and Poland Spring Water. Hiram Ricker embellished the L-shaped building with turrets, porches, and gingerbread decoration. It quickly became known as the grand hotel of coastal Maine. Ricker also renamed the resort hotel "The Samoset," after the Pemaquid Chief on the Maine Coast, who was among the first people to greet the Mayflower Pilgrims.
In 1911 the Maine Central Railroad, that also operated the Mount Kineo at Moosehead Lake and Newport House at Bar Harbor, acquired the hotel. This was the golden age for luxury resorts, when railroads flourished and regular steamboat travel brought wealthy summer visitors to the resort for extended stays. Local newspapers carried stories about the first Roe or Maxwell automobiles to be seen in the area. Then a seasonal hotel, the Samoset staff (over 200) would sign up for winter duty at an elegant Florida resort, and return in the summer to the Samoset, Mount Kineo, or Newport House.
The Depression and automobile competition brought hard times to the Maine Central Railroad, and in 1941 the resort was sold for only $25,000, to Adriel Bird of the La Touraine Coffee Company and William Doe of Boulton, Smart Company in Boston. Although well past its “heyday,” the Samoset Resort still attracted famous visitors to the Maine coast, including soon-to-be Vice President, Harry Truman.
The resort was sold in 1946 to the Sonnabend Corporation, which eventually became part of what is now Sonesta International. After struggling for years to stay open, the Samoset's doors were closed in 1969. Furnishings sold at auction included grand pianos and crystal chandeliers, bar stools and room keys. It marked the end of an era. Weeds began to overtake the once grand hotel, and on October 13, 1972, the hotel was completely destroyed by fire.
A Connecticut developer took on the project of building a new Samoset Resort, financed by Builders Investment Group (BIG) of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and architectural design by Stephen Kent Biggs, AIA, LRAIA, RIBA. The new Samoset opened on September 9, 1974, was constructed almost entirely from the beautiful old timbers of a deserted granary, which was once a Portland, Maine landmark. After several years of financial difficulties, BIG took title to the resort in August 1978.
In June 1984, the Samoset Resort changed ownership but not hands. BIG, now part of Winn Enterprises based in California, changed its corporate direction from real estate to the dairy business. Members of the management team, including Jim Ash and the late Marcel Lacasse, for whom the resort's fine dining establishment was named, seized the opportunity to form a Maine limited partnership, Samoset Resort Investors, to acquire the property.
Over the last two decades, significant construction has taken place to further enhance the Maine resort. In the summer of 1981, the property was approved for purpose-built one and two-bedroom time-share condominiums. The concept has been a tremendous success bringing a total of 72 units to the resort with over 3,300 families.
In the spring of 1997, the Samoset unveiled a brand new golf clubhouse complex.
On January 28, 1999, the resort was sold to Samorock, LLC, an affiliate of Ocean Properties Ltd. of Portsmouth, New Hampshire—one of the largest independent hotel operators in the nation, which is headed by the Walsh family of Bangor, Maine. A quality operator of hotels, the Walsh family brings their expertise, years of experience and personal interest to the Samoset and the Maine coastal communities.
The Samoset Resort has emerged as a year-round golf vacation destination and conference center for people from all over the world. The coastal Maine resort offers something for everyone in a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere. The Samoset Resort will continue the long established traditions of its grand past as it moves forward into the next century.