Grande Dame’s Luxurious New Look

The Claremont Hotel’s joyful renovation in Southwest Harbor
Words By Jennifer Wolcott
Photos By Erin Little

Since 1884, The Claremont Hotel, Southwest Harbor’s elegant grande dame resort with breathtaking views of Somes Sound and Cadillac Mountain, has drawn well-heeled Bostonians, New Yorkers, and travelers from afar, many of whom return year after year for cherished family vacations, once-in-a-lifetime celebrations—or just to sip a negroni and gaze at those views from a rocking chair on the hotel’s wraparound porch.  

So when its new owner, Tim Harrington, cofounder of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, and his design team, Laura Keeler Pierce of Keeler & Co. Interior Design and Krista Stokes of Atlantic Holdings, set out to renovate the resort in September 2020, respecting its storied history was top of mind. At the same time, they were eager to refresh and revitalize the old inn’s 52 accommodations (rooms, suites, and cottages), giving them new life and youthful energy, and creating an array of luxurious new spaces where guests could relax and recharge.  

Cole & Son wallpaper and freshly upholstered furnishings dazzle guests in the parlor seating area.

Their updates have been wowing guests since they were unveiled in May 2021, just eight months after the renovation began. “We have always loved coming to The Claremont, and now it is even better!” raved guest Sandra Richardson. “All the renovations are in keeping with the original, but more luxurious and fun.” 

Chic pink-and-green pool cabanas beckon with daybeds, beach chairs, and stocked coolers; a heated outdoor pool stretches across what was one of two croquet lawns (the other was kept), and biking-or-hiking weary guests can opt for a massage at the on-site spa.  

Reimagined restaurants offer a variety of dining experiences. Little Fern features farm-and-sea-fresh Maine classics, Batson Fish Camp serves up bites and brews, and intimate Harry’s Bar oozes with vintage charm from its classic cocktails to the antique decor, much of it sourced from area antiques shops.  

“The Claremont is a 100-plus-year-old, beautiful property that needed some love,” says Tim. “The views are so gorgeous that people often overlooked comforts that were lacking.” When making updates, tradition was not tossed aside. “The property’s history was woven into the new design.”  

“It felt like a big responsibility,” says Laura, adding that she was more than a little relieved when longtime guests told them they’d “updated while retaining the essence” of the place.   

Classic games abound at The Claremont, from indoor pool to outdoor croquet and more.

“It felt like a big responsibility,” says Laura, adding that she was more than a little relieved when longtime guests told them they’d “updated while retaining the essence” of the place.   

The ambiance of joie de vivre that pervades the new renovation might have also won them over. In bedrooms and beyond, bright colors, exuberant wall coverings, and playful patterns delight the eye, and happy, floral motifs root the renovation to the hotel’s surroundings on Mount Desert Island and to its heritage as a thriving gardening community.  

It’s the very mood they had hoped for.  

“We went after a vintage-preppy vibe,” says Tim, “but even more than that, we wanted to create joy, to see people walk in and smile. It’s hard not to feel joyful here.”