New owners renovating Linekin Bay Resort

Posted:  Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - 7:45am
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Two local men are writing the second chapter of a historic Boothbay Region camping lodge’s history. Scott Larson of Southport and Steve Malcom of Boothbay purchased the Linekin Bay Resort in mid-December for an undisclosed price.

Larson and Malcom are the second owners in the resort’s 106-year history. They purchased it from the Branch family who operated the all-inclusive sailing resort in Boothbay Harbor.

The resort is in the midst of a major renovation. Crews are demolishing several cabins and lodges in preparation for constructing replacements. The new buildings will retain the resort’s rustic, historic look, according to the new owners.

“There is a certain magic about LBR. It started with the Branch family over 100 years ago. It has a wonderful legacy and Scott and I want to continue that,” said Malcom.

The major renovation being done this winter is to Linwood Lodge. The original building has been demolished. The new, lodge-style building will consist of 14 units: 7 over 7, all facing the water. The style and feel of Linwood’s exterior will mirror another existing lodge on the property that bears a semi-dark cedar shingle exterior.

Larson characterizes the changes as similar to ones made when he and his wife purchased the Newagen Seaside Inn on Southport Island 15 years ago. Both properties needed a major overhaul.

“We are looking to breathe a little life into the buildings and facility,” Larson said. “There are some structural issues with a lot of deferred maintenance here. In spite of that, a lot of people still enjoy coming here.”

The new owners believe the business has ample room for growth which is predicated on the renovations and an expanded business model. They believe the camp hasn’t reached its potential in recent years due to aging buildings and the old infrastructure.

“Given all that, it’s still a beautiful piece of property that is still attracting a great deal of repeat business,” Larson said. “We think the renovations will attract more guests who are looking for a place where they can hike around the woods one day, and go sailing the next.”

Larson and Malcom want to attract all boaters to the resort. It has an enhanced launch service to collect and deliver guests coming to the property for lunch and dinner. Visitors are still welcome to drive to eat, but the owners want to encourage patrons to come by boat and spend the afternoon with them either in the restaurant or at the deck bar.

The new proprietors also believe an enhanced hospitality structure will benefit the resort. In past years, during the shoulder seasons of May, June, September and October, the resort has been more of a weekend destination with wedding celebrations taking over the resort exclusively. Going forward, the new owners will be introducing a mid-week ‘B & B’ format during these months with weddings only on the weekends to market the resort as a seven-day vacation destination.

“No additional growth has happened for several years. We believe a lot of new business can happen mid-week by focusing on what a great family vacation destination this is,” Larson said.

The Linekin Bay Resort is the only all-inclusive sailing vacation destination in New England. It will have a total of 35 camp-style rooms, two suites and 20 rustic cabin-style cottages. It will also provide many recreational activities such as hiking, sailing, tennis, swimming, kayaking, and paddle boarding. Larson believes the renovations will attract more tourists and locals to the resort. It is also a prime location for weddings and other family celebrations.

Above all else, Larson and Malcom want to honor the resort’s character and history which began with first owners Grove and Elizabeth Branch in 1909. The Branches purchased the property which they described as “A slice of heaven on Boothbay Harbor’s coast.”

In 1919, the Branches, who were both educators and artists, established a girls’ summer camp. Later, they expanded it into a summer residence program for girls and boys during World War I and World War II.

In 1946, the Branch family renamed the facility Linekin Bay Resort with a new focus on the waterfront. The resort began specializing in family vacations especially for those who enjoyed sailing.

Larson and Malcom plan on keeping this vision alive with an enhanced kids’ camp program. Garry Stewart, who served as general manager under the previous ownership, will remain as general manager for this season.

“I’m excited about the changes happening at Linekin Bay Resort,” said Stewart. “I’m glad that the traditions of Linekin Bay Resort - such as the family gatherings, sailings, the ringing of the dinner bell, and lobster picnics - all loved by our guests will remain intact. The ‘new’ LBR will keep the classic Maine vacation of yesteryear alive, while providing the service and comfort of today.”

Thus far, Linekin Bay Resort’s sale has been well-received by past guests and Boothbay region residents, according to Malcom.

“I received a number of calls and emails from folks extremely excited about this happening,” he said. “Whether it’s people who have stayed there and later I’ve built houses for, or other people knowing the resort’s importance to the region, they’re all saying how happy they are that Scott and I are ones doing this.”

Malcom first met the Branch family in 2007. They were considering renovating the resort and consulted with his firm, the Knickerbocker Group. Malcom said the 2008 recession put a damper on those plans.

“Seven years ago I was hired as part of a team by the Branch family to do a new development plan. We were going to completely reconfigure the resort. and install a new water and sewer line, but the recession hit, and it didn’t happen,” he said. “There is a wonderful karma associated with this property. It already has a lot of love, but it also needs a lot of love from us. The renovations are being done in hopes of making it last another 100 years.”

This is not the first business relationship between Malcom and Larson. The Knickerbocker Group was the consultant for the renovations done to Larson ’s Newagen Seaside Inn.

The business relationship developed into a friendship and the two searched years for another hospitality-based business opportunity they could collaborate on together.

“Linekin Bay Resort was perfect,” said Larson. “We had the idea of buying the property together and either developing it or bringing it back to life.”

Prior to purchasing the Linekin Bay Resort, Larson spent time observing the resort’s guests last summer.

“There is really no other place in the region like it,” he said. “It’s an old-style Maine sporting camp wrapped in a resort. People can stay for a week and sail, hike or kayak. It’s a casual environment which makes families feel like they are at home.”

Larson and Malcom expect the renovations to take three to five years. They are renovating the buildings in the utmost dire condition first, according to Larson. They expect the first round of renovations to be completed in time for the spring season.

Larson and Malcom have assembled a formidable hospitality management team to launch the property in time for a May 21 opening.