The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Cliff House Resort

In multi-part series, exclusive to the Maine Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation.  MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, social impact and job creation.

Please join with us in celebrating Cliff House Resort.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Cliff House Resort:  The iconic Cliff House resort, sitting on the edge of Bald Head Cliff in Cape Neddick, has been welcoming guests since 1872. Leading investment firm, Rockbridge Capital partnered with Maine hoteliers Marc Dugas and Peter Anastos to create RBDD Cliff House Acquisitions, LLC which purchased the property in 2014 and began extensive renovations and additions to capture the best of Maine in every season. Cliff House reopened with newly designed guest rooms and suites, over 25,000 square feet of new meeting and event space, including a new cliffside ballroom, oceanfront dining and bars, indigenous landscaping, and many other enhancements. A new luxury spa and wellness center, family pool, and Lobster Shack added to the already lengthy list of resort amenities.  The greatest highlight is the new collection of oceanfront resort suites which range from family bunk suites to romantic 1-bedroom suites with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean high atop Bald Head Cliff.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?

Cliff House Resort: As noted in a 2016 Boston Globe Article:

“With the opening of the Cliff House, the trend of turning modest New England beach hotels into posh escapes is gaining momentum. The shift is happening as hotel owners and investors reason that travelers who are accustomed to stylish, urban boutique hotels will want the same experience in quaint seaside towns.”

MEREDA:  That sounds like quite a process.  How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?

Cliff House Resort: The planning and permitting stages lasted approximately one year.

MEREDA:  Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed

Cliff House Resort: As an operating summer resort, significant construction phasing was required to respect the operation during the summer months. The phasing resulted in a two-year construction schedule which began in 2015. The redevelopment also required incorporation of existing structures which had significant historical sentiment along with respecting residential abutters and proximity to the ocean.  Extensive collaboration with surrounding residential neighbors was required in order to ensure that existing vehicular access was maintained to properties that used Bald Head Cliff Road.  The road, while the main entrance to the Resort, is also the only access to a number of nearby oceanfront properties.

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was…

Cliff House Resort: The previous owner stated that construction of a new wing that was approved 15 years ago was valid in perpetuity. The ownership team was skeptical, but it turned out to be true. The previous owner had the insight to permit the entire site plan with the ability to phase construction over the years.

MEREDA:  Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable?

Cliff House Resort: Stunning exterior views, coupled with outstanding interior design and world class service right here in Maine.

The ability to fuse two buildings which were very different in both age, style and design into one seamless resort with a complete new addition which nearly doubled the size of the resort was an amazing accomplishment.  The resort appears as if it was built as one property. The depth of vision, skill, and expertise of the architects and designers with ownership coupled with stunning exterior views and outstanding interior design with world class service, is all right here in Maine.

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