Say “hostel,” and you picture a dormfilled with young backpackers. But changing that image in a big way is the goal of Maine Huts and Trails. Calling their properties “boutique hostels,” their four lodges in the remote wilderness of Western Maine are far removed from the traditional hostelscene.
All the buildings and systems are eco-friendly with clean energy systems. Each features a large, well-appointed community building with wood stoves, windows providing panoramic views, and décor straight from the photo shoot of a celebrity vacation home. Creature comforts includehot showers and radiant floor heating. Separate heated bunkhouses provide sleeping space with both the usual communal bedrooms as well as semi-private rooms suitable for families. Bring a sleeping bag or your own sheets; this is still a hostel, and not everything is provided.
What is included are breakfast and dinner. While meals at most hostels are pot luck experiments derived from random contents of backpacks, meals at the Maine Huts lodges are planned, preparedand served by staff.
The lodges share 80 miles of trails suitable for hiking, snowshoeing, and Nordic, cross-country, and backcountry skiing. About 45 miles of trails are groomed, although not to “resort” quality. The lodges are about 20 miles apart, so the truly fit and inspired can plan a hut-to-hut tour of several days.
All guests on New Year’s Eve welcome 2016 with champagne. Two lodges – Stratton, near Sugarloaf, with views of the Bigelow Mountain Range, and Flagstaff, which is particularly good for families – plan four-course holiday feasts created with locally sourced ingredients.
Checkwww.mainehuts.org for details about these, plus guided overnight snowshoeing trips in January.
For more travel advice, go to www.insightguides.com.
– by Fran Severn