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The Seaside Inn & Cottages on Kennebunk Beach - An Inn for All Seasons

When my British friend Claire - aka The Doodologist - and I were planning her trip to the States back in 2012 and we were discussing where to go and what to see, she seemed a bit surprised that there were a lot of places in New England that were going to be closed as she was arriving after not just Labor Day but also a bit after Columbus Day. "What is this seasonal stuff you Americans have going on over there?" she asked ... or something to that affect as I don't quite remember her exact words for it was 2012 and my memory has definitely gotten more holes in it since then, however, regardless of exactly what she said, the gist of the conversation was that apparently it's unheard of in Jolly Old England for things to close down when it gets a bit too nippy out so there's no reason to worry about "Well, is the bloody place even going to be open if we go there in the middle of winter?" like there is here.  Claire rather had a point though as we live in a part of the country where - like it or not - it's going to get cold a good part of the year so why should places shutter up and close down?  No doubt in Claire's opinion she was thinking "Suck it up New England and embrace your frozen months, snow and cold temperatures are as quintessential to the area as those white clapboard churches people are always going on about!"

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Thankfully though, not all of New England's best places to visit roll up their sidewalks in the winter months and should Claire ever venture back over this way when the snow has been flying, I have found just the place to take her that I think she'd very much enjoy - and probably more so in the "off season" as there aren't quite so many other people hanging about and crowding the beaches plus, for my money, there's simply nothing like the ocean in the winter to invigorate one's senses and wash away some of the winter doldrums.  I think that Claire, as well as quite a few other people, may share my thoughts on that so to all of us like-minded lovers of "off season" travel, I highly recommend a visit to a wonderful place that thumbs its nose in the face of harsh winter weather and offers cozy, comfortable oceanfront surroundings all year through.

Located on approximately 20 acres of land at the head of the Kennebunk River with the Atlantic Ocean just a good stone's throw away, The Seaside Inn & Cottages on Kennebunk Beach, Maine is the only lodging in the area to be located directly on the beach and to be open regardless of whether it's "in" beach season or "out" of beach season!   Add on the fact that this particular piece of land has been the site of some sort of lodging since the mid-1600s and it's definitely the type of place that this distracted wanderer absolutely loves!

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The Gooch Family - for whom the beach in front of the inn is named - have been innkeepers in Kennebunk for nine generations while they can trace their history in the area back twelve generations to John Gooch, an early settler from Gloucester, England who came to Maine (which was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until 1820 when it voted to secede) in 1637. In the 1650s, Gooch was asked by Fernando Gorges, agent for King Charles II, to reside on the oceanfront peninsula at the mouth of the Kennebunk River in order to ferry travelers across.  Gooch took on the task of ferryman and as those travelers often also needed to spend a night or two before their crossing, Gooch offered them rooms and meals creating the area's first inn.

Somewhere among the branches of the Gooch family tree, the inn was bought by Jedidiah Gooch who purchased it from a cousin in 1756.  Following the custom of the time, the inn was then passed down to the first-born son of each succeeding generation of Gooches until four generations ago when there were no more sons but only daughters born. When the inn was passed down again, the name "Gooch" was replaced by "Severance" on the property deed until the 11th generation when Mike and Sandy Severance, parents of two daughters, decided that the time had come to retire. Passing down the inn to the 12th generation of Gooches, today the inn is the property of Trish Mason, Jedidiah's great-great-great-great-great-great granddaughter, who owns and runs it with her husband Ken, a former member of the United States Coast Guard.

The Seaside House is considered to be the oldest family-run business in Maine, the fifth oldest family business in the country, and the 46th oldest family run business in the world so with a legacy like that, it makes sense that Trish Mason decided to write a book about her family's legacy. Inspired by the passing of her paternal grandfather Leon Severance, Trish decided to compose her family's history so that it wouldn't be lost to future generations.  Writing down any family story that she could remember before beginning her research at local historical societies, libraries, and the Massachusetts State Archives, it took Trish eight years to piece together the story of her family from pre-colonial Maine to the 21st century in her book "The Seaside House: Maine Innkeepers."  In addition to bringing the Gooch Family to life, Trish also offers glimpses into the history of Maine itself. Autographed copies of the book can be purchased on-site or the book can be ordered on-line through Amazon and several other booksellers.

As for the property that has been lovingly cared for by one generation of Gooches after another, the current circa-1978 inn features 22 rooms - 12 ocean view and 10 terrace view - each with two queen-size beds, a private deck or patio, a small refrigerator in the vanity area, flat-screen TV, and a full-size bathtub with shower.  There's free WiFi (a must for this generation of travelers!) and a hot tub on the second floor deck that offers a terrific view of the ocean.

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As you can see, the building may be circa-1978 but the rooms are very updated and modern! 

If you happen to be staying close to Valentine's Day, a nice touch is the box of candy and fresh flowers that you'll find in your room but what's really going to catch your eye is the view that you'll have - especially if you're on the second floor and can look across the wide expanse of lawn (or in this case, snow-covered lawn) to the Atlantic Ocean. Add the sound of the surf to the glorious view and you'll know that you're definitely staying someplace special!

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If you look to the north you can see over the Kennebunk River to Kennebunkport and the Colony Hotel which is a property of the Historic Hotels of America however, as gorgeously seaside-like as it is, it's a seasonal property so stands empty during the winter months.

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By the way, have I mentioned how gorgeous sunrise and sunset is during the winter months?  Especially while standing on your balcony at The Seaside Inn regardless of how cold out it may be?  Sometimes things are just so beautiful, that you don't notice that you're standing in a pile of snow on a deck without your coat on!

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In addition to the 22 guest rooms at the inn, there are three waterfront cottages and houses adjacent to the property that The Seaside Inn rents for the individual owners on a weekly or monthly basis. Each fully-equipped seaside house and/or cottage has either an ocean view, a harbor view or both, some have a deck and all feature a living room with cable TV along with full kitchen facilities with a microwave as well as pots and pans; linens and towels are also provided but none of the houses or cottages include housekeeping - that's up to you to take care of.  For more information on cottage rentals, click here.

Guests of The Seaside Inn are treated to a complimentary expanded Continental Breakfast which is served in the 1850 Boathouse Room from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.  You can order a fresh, hot bowl of oatmeal from the kitchen or fill up on English muffins, bagels, cinnamon toast, or an assortment of cold cereals. There's milk, juice, coffee (really good coffee!), fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs and some of the seriously best muffins I have ever sunk my teeth into. They were so good that I found I had eaten mine before it dawned on me that I should have taken a photo but I did manage to get a photo of the basket of muffins one morning which were still fresh-out-of-the-oven warm.

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Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins
Another nice Valentine's Day touch at breakfast - a box of Conversation Hearts at each place setting!
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Beautiful ceramic mugs in soothing seaside colors are for sale as mementos of your stay should you like one.

The inn has private access to the beach from their property which is quite easy to get to - as long as you don't have as much snow as there was this winter.  Even though there was a nice path to follow down to the beach, getting down the stairs that lead down to it was next to impossible as they - and a good portion of the upper beach - were covered in about four feet of snow.  That doesn't mean that it still doesn't provide a lovely view of Gooch Beach though so it's well worth the short walk to check things out.

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That's a bench underneath all of that snow! 
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Luckily even with all of the snow that was piled up all over the place, it was easy enough to take a short walk down Beach Avenue to the public access stairs and take a lovely walk along the sand just like so many of the locals (and their dogs) do.  Cloudy ... sunny ... cold ... it didn't matter, it was the beach and waves and beautiful!

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All in all, I think that my friend Claire would enjoy a stay at The Seaside Inn as it's a lovely, peaceful place that is close to Dock Square in Kennebunkport with its shops and restaurants and such but not so close that it disturbs the real reason that most people go to the beach in the off-season and that's to enjoy the beauty and peace and glory that the ocean provides ... even when you're getting jumped on by one of the local dogs while shooting a short video!

If you're interested in staying at The Seaside Inn & Cottages on Kennebunk Beach, be sure to check their website for special available rates and off-season packages, like them on Facebook where you'll find last-minute availability and spectacular savings or follow them on Twitter.

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