David's Restaurant at the Boathouse Waterfront Hotel
Photograph by Douglas Merriam
Looking for romance? Seeking escape? Find both in Kennebunkport during the off-season. Better yet, plan to be there sometime during the month of February and experience the Second Annual #lovekpt extravaganza, where love is in the air night and day.
Maine’s wintery shore, the seaside village’s charming boutiques, and award-winning chefs’ haute cuisine make it the ideal setting for l’amour. Add signature events like the Ice Bar at the Kennebunkport Inn, Wines & Valentines at One Dock Prime, and a pop-up dinner at Lodge on the Cove with chef Justin Walker of Earth, and you have the makings for lifetime memories.
Before heading out for all the festivities, tuck your suitcases into one of 25 rooms and suites at Kennebunkport Resort Collection (KRC)’s Boathouse Waterfront Hotel, where you’ll enjoy five-star service, nautically inspired interiors, and a private balcony overlooking the Kennebunk River. Recently renovated, The Boathouse offers immaculate accommodations characterized by fresh, minimalist décor. (Maine-made Cuddle down bedding and robes round out the plush experience.) Located inside the hotel is one of the region’s finest restaurants—David’s KPT, where acclaimed Portland chef David Turin turns local ingredients into works of art. (The Hungarian paprika crusted filet mignon is exceptional.) David’s is also home to Kennebunkport’s only raw bar, as well as two sophisticated lounge bars.
The greater cuisine scene includes the aforementioned Earth at Hidden Pond—also a KRC property—where rustic environs, farm-to-fork fare, and craft cocktails featuring muddled fruits and fresh herbs from the restaurant’s 800-square-foot organic farm garden are the theme. Handmade pastas, house-made charcuterie, and wood oven-fired pizzas are also in the offering.
KRC’s One Dock Prime Steakhouse at the Kennebunkport Inn—the location for the Ice Bar soirée—more than merits a reservation, as chef Michael Doyle’s exquisitely prepared Brandt beef cuts are out of this world. The inn’s mixologist promises the likes of last year’s #lovekpt signature cocktail, the Rosebud, made with Ketel One vodka, cava, and house-infused rose tea (pour it from an ice luge, and it’s a party!).
Newcomer TABLE opened on October 17 with a gin-tasting class hosted by the 2015 James Beard nominee for Outstanding Bar Program, Andrew Volk, of Portland’s Hunt + Alpine Club. TABLE offers weekly classes that include in-house behind-the-scenes chef “secrets” as well as events such as book signings with local personalities like Maggie Battista of Eat Boutique and Kate McCarty, author of Distilled in Maine.
The entire Kennebunkport village comes alive for the Paint the Town Red festival, during which visitors enjoy “red tag” deals at boutiques and retail shops, “red plate” specials at restaurants, and “romance packages” at participating hotels. Red and white lights are strung all about town, creating a warm glow in the streets—perfect for mittened handholding and strolling from one feel-good shop to another, with a few bites and beverages in between. (Participating businesses will be listed on a “Love Map,” so visitors can take a self-guided tour of the town’s most romantically inclined spots.)
Recreationally speaking, a winter walk on the beach is always lovely, but even better is snowshoeing at Wells Reserve at Laudholm, where several hundred acres of preserved land and diverse wildlife species make for an ideal place to wear away the seasonal blues. Follow paths through pure white snow-filled fields to the ocean—there’s something quite magical about standing on the beach in snowshoes. For more fresh air, there’s also nearby Rachel Carson National Wildlife Reserve, where a vast salt marsh and estuary promise lots of bird sightings.
In short, for imaginatively themed fine dining, merriment-inducing special events, and a love-evoking setting, #lovekpt is sure to please. So grab your favorite valentine and head up the coast for a terrifically romantic good time!