Brad & Andrea,
We all had a terrific time at Attean last week. It's a great place for a family get together and the kids loved it. Thanks for bringing us back to life the way it was 100 yrs. ago
Sheri & Joel
You created this special place and it is unforgettable for all of us. The food was delicious, the staff friendly and we also appreciated the song-evening with your friends. Our stay was special from the minute we boarded the boat until the last breakfast.
Doris & Pete
Andrea & Brad,
We would like to thank you and your family for the wonderful days we spent on your island. We were treated so friendly from everybody
you all showed us another side of the American way of life. We will never forget these five days.
To the Attean team,
Nestled in the Maine’s picturesque and serene wilderness, the Attean Lake Lodge provided our team with the ideal opportunity to take a break from our usual, jam packed schedules and reconnect with each other, and ourselves. As I see it, our time at the Attean Lake Lodge was simply priceless, as it provided us with an opportunity to refresh, recharge and recommit ourselves to fulfilling our promise of empowering people to better navigate their health journeys. With new energy, ideas and motivation, we are excited to charge forward and bring Backpack Health to the next level.
~ Jim Cavan, CEO and President of Backpack Health
Brad & Andrea & Barrett,
We hope to have the opportunity to enjoy your lodge and cottages again!
~ Alan & Gwinn
Friends at Attean,
We just want to tell you how grateful we are that we found your "Unique Retreat" I must confess that being a city girl, I was somewhat nervous with the idea of a vacation in the Maine woods, how pleasantly surprised I was! Your attention to every detail was evident from the start, our cabin was luxurious and the food is outstanding. Our kids can't wait for us to take them back next summer.
~ Roger & Ellen
My favorite memories are of the summers I spent with my family vacationing at your splendid resort. I will soon be bringing my own family.
~ Greg Atkins
We would like to thank you for having us here and for the wonderful time we spent with you. It was a pleasure to meet you. Thank you again.
The Szmolda family
Attean Lake Lodge,
When I tell people about my family's vacation last summer, I get one of two response: either "Log cabins, it must be wonderful!" or "No electricity, it must be boring!" They're both right. Attean Lake Lodge isn't for everyone, but for people who want to enjoy unspoiled nature without the hassles of camping, it's paradise.
Attean Lake Lodge is a small island resort in northwestern Maine surrounded by an unbroken vista of water, trees and mountains. In the hands of the Holden family for nearly one hundred years, it began as a summer retreat for Northeastern gentility, advertising "Accommodations of Ladies" in its brochures. These accommodations, in contrast to the usual Maine fishing camps, included amenities such as maid service and curtains on the windows. Photos from that era show the "ladies" standing by the lake in long, flowing dresses and wide-brimmed hats. Visitors were transported by train to the edge of the lake where they were met by Ruel Holden and a row boat. Members of the Holden family still greet every guest warmly and are delighted to share their knowledge of the surrounding lakes and mountains with visitors.
Our stay began with a ten-minute drive down the rutted road from tiny Jackman, the nearest town, to the Attean boat dock where we found the venerable cabin cruiser that transported us to our cabin on the island. Choosing the right cabin is important. The Holdens simplified this decision with a brochure describing the fourteen possibilities. The West End cabins, where you can watch the sunset from your porch, are quiet and quaint, not surprising since several were built in the 1920s. They're favored both by elderly couples, some of whom have been returning for over forty years,and honeymooners. Families with young children will probably prefer a cabin overlooking the small, sandy beach. Our two-bedroom cabin, Arlington, was simple but comfortable for a family of four, with a bathroom and small living room and a porch only a few boulders and blueberry bushes from the water. Electricity from a generator powers the main lodge mornings and evenings. The cabins, however, rely on kerosene lights and Franklin stoves, which make up in charm what they lack in efficiency. Water for the indoor plumbing is heated by a propane gas tank outside each cabin. You may want to bring a battery-powered lantern for evenings, or else do what we did: fall asleep to the sound of the loons soon after nightfall. The cabins are tidied every morning, and ice, spring water and fire wood are brought in every afternoon.
No matter how beautiful the setting, no resort could survive this long without great food.. Breakfast and dinner are served in the combination lodge and dining room, a dramatic log structure designed and built by Brad Holden, Ruel's grandson. Breakfasts began with warm muffins or sweet rolls followed by eggs, pancakes and hot and cold cereals. Blueberries, that are staple of summertime Maine cuisine, made a frequent appearance in muffins and pancakes.
Lunch orders are taken after dinner, as we're swallowing the last bites of tart or cake and vowing to fast for the next 24 hours. As a result, my husband and I usually ordered vegetables(shredded carrots, sprouts, lettuce and tomato) on whole wheat bread, while our sons, confident that they would soon be ravenous again, ordered two ham and cheese sandwiches a piece. The lunches, along with lemonade, a thermos of coffee and the cookies of the day awaited us in a portable cooler at breakfast. The cooler gave us the freedom to leave the island for a day trip, or have an early lunch on our porch.
Whether we had worked up an appetite hiking or spent a lazy day reading on the beach, dinner was the high point of the day. The two chefs presented a series of superb meals - lobster, steak, baked fish - with several choices each night. Biweekly cookouts on the beach appealed to children, who devoured hamburgers and hot dogs and then disappeared to fish or take one last kayak ride. We enjoyed the cookouts because sitting at long picnic tables gave us the change to talk with other guests, and the grilled chicken, corn bread and tabouli were just as good as the "dining room" food. Every meal ended with an array of extraordinary desserts - the raspberry tart was beyond description. Although we had decided on the first night to throw dietary restraint to the wind, we noticed that a few highly disciplined guests at another table were served low-fat and vegetarian meals. We also ordered wine or beer at dinner, which added to the pleasure of lingering on the dining porch to watch for bald eagles swooping over the water. Unless it was pouring, we ate on the porch every morning and night.
Meals may well have been our favorite activity at Attean, but we also hiked, fished and swam. Climbing Sally Mountain, on the mainland opposite the island, is almost a requirement. It's a strenuous hike but we watched (from our comfortable beach chairs) an entire family, from toddler to grandparents, triumphantly return from a trip to the summit, toting pails of the ubiquitous blueberries. My family's favorite outing was spectacular hike and boat trip across a series of three secluded ponds. Brad Holden sent us off with a map and keys to unlock the hidden canoes. We saw deer and moose (no people) and munched raspberries form the endless bushes along the trail. Another day, we joined two families for a boat trip to one of the many tiny islands on the lake. Without a trace of human development in sight, it was easy to pretend we were the first people to set foot there. We swam to and from a nearby slab of sun-warmed rock, ate, and fished from the cliff that make up one side of the this island. All of us - including our collection of six boys and one girl - fell into a mood of quiet dreaminess, mesmerized by the beauty of the war, sky and rocks.
Fishing attracts many people to Attean. In the old days before motor boats, all visitors had a local guide to paddle them to the best fishing spots on the lake or lead them to secret trout streams. While guides are still available, most Attean visitors seem to trust to their own luck. Our teenage son reeled in (and threw back) an almost continuous succession of chub and perch. Two of his luckier friends caught good-sized trout of the dock and ate them for breakfast the next morning. Fish are also said to be plentiful in the "Narrows," the deepest part of the lake.
Attean's only limitation is swimming. Although a few hearty souls could be seen doing the crawl around the island or across the lake to Sally Mountain beach, the water is as cold as you'd expect a Maine lake to be-more suitable for an quick leap off the dock than a leisurely float. Our two boys spent more time in plastic kayaks than in the water, paddling off in convoys to build a fort on a neighboring island.
Perhaps because of the island setting, the atmosphere at Attean is cordial. Children fell into almost instant friendships on the beach, where they played wiffle ball and hide and seek while their parents chatted. Our stay overlapped with a piano-playing computer scientist and a clarinet-playing doctor who decided to give a concert in the lodge one evening. The kind of people who are attracted to Attean seem to be compatible, although they run the gamut from professor to dentist to movie actor. Many families return every year.
An ideal stay at Attean is at least seven days. It took us the first few days just to unwind and get into the rhythm of the place. If the weather turns cool and blustery, which can happen even in July, you may want to get off the island for a change of scenery. We held in reserve trips to the Road Kill Caf - and the Indian Store at nearby Moosehead Lake, and Quebec City, two hours away. On rainy days children who are addicted to computer games and TV at home may go cold turkey and discover the joys of reading, jigsaw puzzles and Monopoly. Or they may make their parents' lives miserable. As I said, Attean isn't for everyone. It is for our family, though. We've already reserved Arlington for next summer.
~ Lindsay Evans