The other day, as I drove up the winding roads to the beloved, but a bit elderly, Linekin Bay Resort, my path was blocked by a pair of giant excavators grading a new road.
Shortly after the huge machines pounded the new gravel surface into submission, compactors started compacting the soil. Not far away, carpenters were hammering, roofers were roofing, plumbers, were, well you get the idea.
There are as many as 60 craftsmen putting up, renovating and, on occasion, tearing down parts of the 100-year-old popular family getaway destination.
Scott Larson, the owner of the Newagan Seaside Inn, has partnered with Steve Malcom, the owner/boss of the Knickerbocker Group, to buy the 22-acre resort from the Branch family who had run it for more than 100 years.
It is a major project. To the left of the drive, overlooking the water, a long concrete foundation sits in place of an older building. It awaits delivery of a modular structure featuring 14 rooms.
Nearby, an old structure that once was the maintenance and linen storage facility has been replaced with what Larson calls the home base, a convenient place for guests check-ins and a headquarters for the resort’s administration.
Two larger lodges are being redone with updated facilities. But, once familiar carpets were pulled up, they discovered wide hardwood flooring boards which will be refinished and used.
The West Lodge, housing the main dining room and bar, is a favorite guest gathering place. This season, plans call for it to be cleaned and spruced up. The pool, where kiddies and their parents cool off, has sprung a leak and could use a paint job. The pool contractor has looked it over and repairs are scheduled.
Larson is enthusiastic about the resort and its unique charm.“I love this place. I love the character and I would hate to see it not continue.”
He brags that a check of the chimneys will allow them to continue to use the massive stone fireplaces located in several buildings.
Some folks in town will tell you they believe that Larson and Malcom are really acting as surrogates or front men for Paul Coulombe, the developer of the Boothbay Harbor County Club, Oliver’s Restaurant and the Cuckolds Light Resort.
That statement brought a quick denial from Larson. “I have heard that rumor and I want to say it is not right.”
“First of all, Paul does not need a front man. He has done all his projects on his own. And, if Paul Coulombe were doing this, he would do it on a lot bigger scale. No, it is just me and Steve,” said Larson.
Right now, Larson is the quarterback of a team working frantically to open on May 17. They have hired staff and have lots of reservations already on the books. The first wedding is scheduled for the first weekend. “We will be ready,” he said.
The renovation/reconstruction project means there will be a lot of changes to the family-oriented resort. The idea of change has put some longtime guests on edge.
“Some are worried we are doing too much to the place. Others are worried we are not doing enough,” he said.
The new owners plan to clean the resort up and maintain traditions. “We are going to maintain the focus on family-oriented activities,” he said.
For instance, Larson will continue the popular guest sailing program. This year, it will feature four new Rhodes 19 sailboats and plans call for eight more in the next two years. Also on hand are two Southport Island Marine’s Handy Billy tenders and a 26-foot-long powerboat for sightseeing.
For the last 15 years, Larson has owned, worked and managed the Newagen Seaside Inn, at the tip of Southport Island. He and his crew have renovated, updated and modernized one of the region’s historic vacation destinations. In the last three years, they were able to do a million dollars worth of upgrades each year.
The result of their hard work: “Business is good,” he said.
Now, he wants to concentrate on the Linekin Bay Resort. It is a five-year project.
In addition to Newagen, Larson owns the Russell House on Route 27, not far from the Boothbay town office and common.
He has plans for that business, too.
“We are going to move the Compass Rose Events catering business out of the Russell House and use it to house some of our staff this summer. After that year we plan to operate it as a B & B.
As for his immediate goal, Larson says he has just one objective. “I hope that 50 years from now, folks will look back and say we were the ones who saved the Linekin Bay Resort, like we did Newagen.”