SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The Claremont Hotel’s new owner Tim Harrington calls himself a serial renovator, and the new look of the century-old business is proof.
“I just decided I was going to pour all of my resources in here, because it’s worth it,” he said in a recent conversation with the Islander, on the hotel porch overlooking Somes Sound and a newly installed pool.
Upgrading the hotel for its 137th season was a two-year renovation that took place in six months, according to Harrington. Despite COVID clampdowns on supplies and shortages due to shipping, he and his team did whatever it took to open the doors on Memorial Day weekend, including flying two people to Chicago to truck back kitchen equipment that was not expected to ship until mid-June.
The classic yellow building is now white with lots of green and pink accents, a gift shop, intimate bar, upgraded restaurant and a soon-to-open spa for guests. Several of the cottages on site have also been renovated and guests can enjoy playing in a new game room where the Claremont Croquet Classic winners are posted on the wall. One of the two croquet courts on the grounds was preserved and the other is where the new pool was installed.
“We kept little details wherever we could,” said Food and Beverage Manager Alexi van Heerden.
Batson’s Fish Camp, a small bar next to the pier on the water, opened June 18 and offers small, simple fare while featuring wine, canned cocktails, Maine beer and liquor from one of Harrington’s other endeavors, Batson River Distilling.
There are 70 seats in Little Fern, the main restaurant in the hotel open to the public, which features Aaron Horvath as the executive chef. Horvath has previously worked in Bar Harbor establishments Havana and Guinness and Porcelli’s.
An intimate bar called Harry’s can be found a short walk from the check-in desk of the hotel. Named after Harrington’s brother, it is decorated with classic, hardcover books, classic paintings that feature scenes from the sea and small tables made for two. Harrington and his design team found most of their antique decor from The Store on Clark Point Road and Higgins Antiques on Main Street.
“We try to buy local as much as possible,” said Harrington. “It’s pretty, but not formal. It’s an asset for the community.”
A Mount Desert Island native, van Heerden is managing all of the food and beverage establishments at the Claremont and leans on her network to incorporate local produce and seafood whenever possible.
While there is plenty on the grounds of the Claremont Hotel to help guests escape the demands of their everyday lives, Harrington wants visitors to venture off grounds and take in what the area has to offer.
“We’re not in the hotel business, we’re in the entertainment business,” he said. “If you come here and stay and we don’t get you on the water or out to the Islesford dock, then we haven’t done our job.”