The term “glamping” means many things to many people. But for me, it’s just a resort that gives guests an intimate connection to nature along with all the comforts of home. That’s what I found at Huttopia Southern Maine, a French-brand town located a short drive from some star-studded towns, such as Kennebunkport and Ogunquit. More importantly, on the Huttopia property you are never far from wooded areas, whether you are swimming in the heated pool, playing petanque, sipping a chilled glass of white wine while relaxing on your porch or settling down in your oh-so comfortable bed long after the sun has set. Whether you check into Huttopia as a couple or a family with young children, the resort gets you back to the basics that some of us may only know as a distant (pre-internet) memory, basic things that delight the senses, and who have an ability to bring us together in a shared love of learning, adventure and enjoying each other’s company in a natural environment for pure fun. Nature-based venues like this should be appreciated. So it is no wonder that Huttopia is dedicated to preserving these special places (so that they can be enjoyed for a long time) by embracing an environmentally conscious and sustainable ethic and participating in activities that do not harm the planet. Glamping on Huttopia Southern Maine will completely reset your psyche, which only a connection to nature can do.
More than 100 accommodations blend into the landscape, dotted with the 40-acre, pine-wooded property bordering the freshwater sand pond. Whether you choose the wood and canvas Trappeur tent or most of the wood in Vista (a modern little house with glass doors that bring in the outside), family-friendly Huttopia has designed these so that parents and children have their place. You will find, for example, that children can enjoy a bunk or single bed, while the adults can sleep in a queen in the adjoining room. (Trappeur draws its inspiration from Canadian fur hunters who built tent huts so they could sleep close to the nature of Canadians in the great outdoors.) Those who prefer a lot of privacy can opt for a home backed by forest, while those who wants views to the waterfront, can check-in to a Trappeur or Vista front Sand Pond with its calm waters.
But Huttopia is also quite attractive for couples, thanks to the Trappeur Duo accommodation, hidden deep in the woods, but only a short walk to the pond with its small sandy beach and Main Lodge, which is a connection to food and drink and countless other activities . Open the door to this wooden and canvas tent and you will be greeted by a romantic atmosphere with dim lighting, a fan upstairs and a king-size bed that fills a large part of the space that seamlessly fits a shower and a comfortable bathroom. Outside, you will find your home surrounded by a cute fence, while you snuggle into the “L” -shaped sofa or one of the armchairs located on your private wooden terrace. Even though none of these homes are uber expansive, why should they be when you have so much outdoor space to occupy your attention?
The botanical inclined will enjoy the many trees, shrubs and other plants that cover the property. The soaring eastern white pine trees are particularly impressive, although many other graceful species also populate the forest areas, such as American beech, northern red oak, white spruce, gray birch and red maple. Being surrounded by nature throughout your stay can not help give you an environmental view and hopefully allow you to better understand why it is deeply important to preserve natural places.
Huttopia is about influencing the environment as little as possible. The entire network of gravel paths winding through the property is reserved for foot traffic only. For their structures, the company relies on untreated wood and canvas – no plastic. And as much as possible, they avoid chopping down trees when building a home. (In fact, I saw several Vistas where it was clear that they were constructed around one or two trees that they deliberately did not cut down.)
Main Lodge / Bistro and Bar –
Unlike most of the main cabins I have visited on my travels, this stylish wooden beam is nicely open and airy with expansive windows and several folding garage doors. The result: as I relaxed on the back deck with an iced latte; a glass of crispy Pinot Gris from Cellardoor in Camden, Maine; or a local craft beer, such as a pure-tasting Citra IPA from Funky Bow Brewery, I could comfortably see clearly through the building all the way to the woods beyond the playground and the table tennis table out front. (Of course, there were also dense wooded areas right next to the lawn near where I was sitting. I enjoyed soaking up this bucolic atmosphere.) I also found it easy to relax in the hammocks that were strung between the tall eastern white pine trees just in addition to the rear tire. With the comfortable temperatures and the gentle breeze, I swung gently in the hammock and just watched the clouds float by. Later, I noticed a father and a young son laying down in a single hammock as they played a game of what animals you see in the clouds; and then I spotted a couple of tween boys waving to a third to swing their hammock so it would turn. (It did not, but they still seemed to be having fun.)
Throughout my stay, I was constantly attracted by the cozy atmosphere and the lively aesthetics of the bistro and bar in the Main Lodge. Pendant lights are strung around inside and out, flashing after sunset like a small welcome lighthouse in the surrounding pine tree.
Walking from my Vista accommodation to the Main Lodge always felt like a stroll through a small village. Passers-by greeted me with a warm “Good Morning,” some stretched tree trunks to their campfire, others walked with their dogs or carried cups of freshly brewed coffee and hot croissants back to their little house or tent. In the Main Lodge, the morning air was pleasantly saturated with the scent of croissants that were uniformly light and airy.
Whether you decide to blow up with a calorie-dense item or eat slimmer options, you will find plenty of choices at Bistro & Bar. Some of my favorite dishes and drinks included the ice cold Karma smoothie made with mango, strawberries and bananas along with apple juice. Since this is a French brand, I had no trouble getting a frothy iced tea while my friend opted for an eye-opening double espresso. I’m a big fan of Nutella, so I could not forget the hazelnut chocolate crepe. But there are also several delicious salty crepes, such as Popeye with tomatoes, spinach, pesto, mozzarella and onions. Other tasty options include the Caesar Salad, where they graciously added cherry tomatoes to me; a divisible hummus or nacho plate; and any of the more than half a dozen thin-crust pizzas.
Sanddam with its calm water and the small crescent is a magnet for couples, parents and children. For me, it was definitely worth getting up early to experience a dramatic sunrise over the pond. However, it was not too early for the two little girls from Vista next door who were already building sand castles and drawing flowers and other pictures in the sand with sticks.
The early morning is also a great time to listen to the sounds of blue jays, mourning pigeons and other songbirds and see many other bird species. As I stood on the dock with his duo of Adirondack chairs, two large Canadian geese swam across the pond.
Later in the day, everyone pulled to the water and the dock. Some parents took their toddlers by the hand to wade in the water or try swimming with floats on. Older children jumped out of the dock or hung with their legs dangling over the water. A teenager deftly navigated her rented paddle board parallel to the shore. Adults set up armchairs on the sand and listen to the silence. A little girl floated her colorful inner tube, which was embossed with a red watermelon motif. The girls, enjoying in their sand paintings, stood on the quay with their fishing rods and managed to catch a bluegill that escaped. Although they were disappointed, they said they did not give up. My friend took the opportunity to rent a canoe and fly fish early in the evening where he caught a three-pound largemouth bass, which he cleaned outside and then grilled in our Vista kitchenette. The kids on the other side of our accommodation hurried over when they saw my friend clean the fish, excitedly peppered him with questions including “Where did the fish come from?” and “Do you want to eat it?”
Huttopia’s Kids Club revolves around activities that are creative, educational, nature-based and of course fun. One morning they went for a walk to gather pinecones. Another day they tried stone painting or making a trash can. I saw children sitting at a table and building a kazoo using a few simple materials. The air was alive with an orchestra of buzzing sounds that I think some of the kids hoped would attract birds.
Several evenings a week, everyone can enjoy family-friendly entertainment outside the Main Lodge. One night I participated in what I consider to be an old show of the black type with a belly talker who is also a magician. So many children were fascinated by his rope trick that he stayed long after his show ended to explain how the magic worked.
Aside from participating in all of these activities, late each afternoon, I walked along the path of trails that ran through the sun-drenched forests and were aware of the sights and sounds that reflect the life of the forest. I also had the opportunity to sign up for a yoga class offered twice a week. (Next year, they plan to have wine tastings as well as guided walks.) Two scenic low-key walks are a short drive away from the property, such as a one-mile loop at the Grover-Herrick Conservation Area that walks past a boiler hole, a unique depression back from the last ice age; and Mo’s Trail, part of the Fenderson Wildlife Commons West, where many blueberry bushes and colorful (non-edible) mushrooms can be found.