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At Log Cabin Island Inn: All you need to do nothing

Email|Print| Text size + By Judith Gaines
Globe Correspondent / July 10, 2005

BAILEY ISLAND, Maine -- Every now and then, one comes upon an inn where almost everything feels right: the accommodations, the decor, the setting, the innkeepers, even, miraculously, the weather. That's how it was when we visited the Log Cabin Island Inn on Bailey Island.

A companion summed up this impression well the first time we walked through the door of our unit, called the Mount Washington Room, which actually was more like a small apartment.

''This seems like the kind of place where people come and then don't move," he said. And he didn't either.

I felt compelled to explore the island, but I could have spent the time happily as he did: sitting in our living room or out on our private deck, reading, listening to music, and looking out to sea with a terrific view of Casco Bay.

Named for the prominent peak that was also visible from our deck, the Mount Washington Room ($189-$269 a night, depending on the season) had a private entrance leading to a living room with a sofa and easy chair, a big TV, a VCR, a high-tech stereo system, a telephone, Internet access, a full kitchen, a bedroom with a king-size bed and another TV, a private bath, and a hot tub on the deck. The place felt cozy and well equipped without being precious or pretentious.

The staff was friendly and helpful. The rate included a full breakfast, and we could have dinner as well for an additional charge. What more could we want?

Owners Sue and Neal Favreau bought the log cabin about 25 years ago from John Wiseman, one of the first beer distributors in Maine. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, and many of his trophies (a bluefin tuna and a moose, among them) line the dining room walls. He also was eccentric, a perfectionist who wanted the place to be immaculate.

''We swear his ghost is here, especially if there's some dust," says Sue Favreau. Not surprisingly, therefore, the rooms were clean and freshly painted.

Sue's son, Matt York, and his wife, Aimee, are the main innkeepers. Laura Evans and Alicia Snow, local natives who live nearby, help with cooking, serving, cleaning, hospitality, and their own brand of cheerleading.

''We have a great life here, and such enthusiasm to share it," Evans said one morning as we had a breakfast of fresh fruit, cinnamon rolls, an oven-baked omelet, and Canadian bacon. ''I think the building has its own karma."

I can't speak to the karma, but I will say this is one of only two places where I have stayed (the other is a terrific place called At the Bay's Edge, in Bodega Bay, Calif.) where guests bring presents to the innkeepers. The welcome feels genuine, and the lack of pretense is refreshing.

The Log Cabin Inn also offers lots of amenities. A heated swimming pool overlooks the sea, a gift shop and a full bar are inside, rooms have an assortment of tapes and videos, and a computer is in the lobby for guests who don't bring their own. Each of the nine units has a deck or patio with a sea view, and all have private entrances. Most have kitchens or at least a refrigerator and coffeemaker, some have fireplaces, four have Jacuzzis, and two have outdoor hot tubs.

All rooms are individually decorated. The Wiseman Room, for instance, in the original home, has a rustic look with lots of wood and exposed overhead beams. The York Room is quirky, with odd-angled walls and lots of antiques. The Harpswell Room is an apartment on two floors.

If there's a drawback here, it's the food. At its best, it is ample, simple, and straightforward -- good but not great. A dinner appetizer of scallops in bacon ($9) was dry. In a surf and turf entree (filet mignon and boiled lobster, for $30), the steak, ordered rare, came cooked more like medium. But a lobster entree ($20) was perfectly boiled, with nicely sauteed zucchini and a baked potato. Shrimp and scallop pesto ($20) was another good choice, with a fresh and tasty sauce. Desserts are homemade by Aimee York; she made a very nice cheesecake ($5).

One evening when we were the only guests at the inn, we expressed reluctance to dine there, knowing the staff could go home if we ate elsewhere. Matt York assured us, though, that it was not a problem and they were happy to accommodate us. The luxury was not so much the food as the convenience of dining on the premises. And the meals were served in a warm and rustic dining room with a view of Mount Washington and Casco Bay at sunset.

JUDITH GAINES

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