I don’t doubt that the positive reviews are warranted, based on people having a lovely room and no issues. Unfortunately that is not what happened with our stay. I don’t judge a place by a bad experience/s; they happen. I judge by what they do to remedy it – or not - and make you feel as if you’ve gotten some compensation for your inconvenience.
I researched pet-friendly inns and came across the Balance Rock Inn. It sounded idyllic, and as it turns out Bar Harbor in general is a very pet-friendly town. It was more expensive at least by double than what we’d normally pay for an inn, but it’s peak season, I needed a vacation desperately, and I’ve never been to Maine. So we decided to splurge.
While the pet friendly aspect of the inn is wonderful, we were unfortunately caught off guard by our dog being a little freaked out by the experience. She displayed some behavior we didn’t anticipate – she’s a rescue we’ve had for 6 months and maybe the trip from NY was a little ambitious. She barked/snapped at a couple of the gentleman that worked there. To their credit, they were very gracious about it and we had to be very careful to keep her away from people. On the 4th day she calmed down.
Nearly everything I write here had been communicated to one or more staff members, and met with differing levels of “I am sorry”.
After reading some reviews on TA about how worn and dated the rooms were, I expressed my concern with the reservationist. She assured me those reviews were a couple of years old, there was a new owner, and “a lot of work” had been done to update. After going through several rooms with the reservationist, we landed on Room 208 with an ocean view, which sounded lovely. I didn’t much care about the whirlpool tub as they are rarely well maintained and tend to be very moldy. As is always the case, the pictures of the room online were taken on Day 1. When we arrived I was nearly in tears at the price we were paying vs. what the room was. The first thing I noticed was the VERY strong mildew smell from the bathroom. I have a mold allergy and noticed lots of black mold in the tiles. The room overall is in desperate need of a renovation. The couch fabric is bleached from the sun. The windowsills and window panes look as if they have never been cleaned. There are dried up drips and stains all over on the walls, windowsills, and woodwork. The lack of attention to cleanliness detail in a “luxury” inn is inexcusable, and overall the room just looked dirty, especially with the wall-to-wall carpet.
The Pool and Deck
The pool and deck are in a prime location, overlooking the ocean, but again the “dirty” look of the entire area are a put off for the price you pay. The cushions on the pool lounge chairs are totally moldy and dirty, the deck looks dirty, and there are stains on many of the chair cushions. I have been to inns and resorts – that cost a lot less - where very early in the morning there are staff members hosing down and scrubbing all outdoor surfaces to get ready for the day. This does not happen at BRI.
Our third night there, some of the guests decided to have a pool party, complete with howling, from 1:30 – 2:30 am. Our dog kept barking because she was scared. As there is no one at the front desk to call, and we had to walk by these people to get to the front desk to find alternate means of communication, we were just kept awake with all of the screaming and trying to keep our dog quiet. At about 2:30 am, it seems they went inside, their rooms were above ours, and they proceeded to slam doors and things until 3 am.
The next night we were trying to have a drink on the deck with our dog beside us, and she started chewing on something she picked up on the floor. I pulled something out of her mouth that looked like glass. Sure enough, there was an incredible amount of broken glass all around our chairs and table. She picked up another piece before we realized it and we have no idea if she swallowed any. She has thrown up several times since so were very concerned. If the inn were as on top of keeping things clean and tidy as they should be, how could you miss cleaning up all of that glass? The next day we had her near the pool. She went under the chair next to mine and had something in her mouth she found under it. I pried open her mouth and it was a USED TAMPON. Yes, you read that correctly, a used tampon. Under a chair. By the pool. Wonderful.
The Breakfast Buffet and Food
Lots of people enjoy a buffet. I am not really one of them, and here I will say that is just my personal thing. I didn’t like many of the things that were prepared, but they were very accommodating in making some simple requests such as scrambled or fried eggs. Much of the food on the buffet was lukewarm. In the morning they put tea and coffee out at 7 am. The hot water they put in the urn for tea is run through the coffee machine. That is gross. Anything that gets run through the coffee machine tastes like COFFEE. This is hospitality service 101. Really. And the tea selection is paltry. It’s all in the DETAILS.
Our first night we ordered some appetizers – the crab cakes being one. They were so salty we could not eat them. The couple we were sitting with tried them and said they were nothing like the ones they had the night before. We then got the spring rolls, and they were good. People say the food at BRI is very good, and it may be, but we ate elsewhere for the rest of the trip. Quality control and consistency may be an issue there.
For all of our trouble, not even a drink was offered. Do not expect appeasements at Balance Rock Inn, because they do not occur no matter how much glass your dog picks up on the porch or how much you are paying for the privilege of staying there. And it is for this reason that I cannot endorse BRI.
Again, I don’t doubt there are people who have wonderful experiences with updated, clean rooms, no glass and used tampons by the pool, and fantastic food. I guess for our $500/night we just weren’t destined to be one of them.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Balance Rock Inn is one of the premier oceanfront lodging properties in Bar Harbor, ME. Set on a secluded tree-covered property with expansive views of Frenchman's Bay, this luxurious Inn's name celebrates the "balance rock," a precariously positioned boulder on the nearby ocean shore, a huge remnant from an ice age. Balance Rock's 27 rooms and suites are tastefully outfitted in harmonious colors, handsome wall coverings, handcrafted furnishings, and all the creature comforts. All rooms and suites have either a king or queen size select comfort bed, a private bath, flat screen television with DVD player, WIFI internet access, individually controlled AC and heat, and most with amazing ocean views! The Inn features a full bar and restaurant, sundeck with fire pit, and heated swimming pool...all overlooking the ocean. In addition there is a formal dining room for breakfast and dinner, a small fitness center, and ample parking. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Balance Rock Hotel Bar Harbor
- Balance Rock Inn Bar Harbor, Maine