For many families, Linekin Bay Resort is a time-honored tradition that transcends the generations.
Jan Landis remembers the first visit to Linekin Bay Resort in vivid detail. It was a dark and stormy night in August of 1970. She and her husband, John, then both 29, had just bought their first house. A fire was roaring in the hearth of the dining room and the sweet aroma of lobster bisque filled the air. “It was like nothing else we’d ever experienced before,” Landis says.
Jan relaxed by the saltwater pool. John played tennis and fulfilled a lifelong dream of learning to sail. In the evening, they played bridge with fellow guests who became fast friends. And they made plans to return as soon as possible. When they did, in 1983, with two sons in tow, that rustic little resort turned out to be as perfect a getaway for their family of four as it had been for the young couple. The kids, ages 7 and 9, spent hours fishing for crabs off the dock and making up games with newfound friends. “They kind of made up their own camp,” Landis says.
Solo travelers, couples, and generations of families have retreated to Linekin Bay Resort to relax by the ocean, unplug from everyday life, and relish adventures on the coast, from lobster bakes to ocean swims.
The Landis family made a getaway to Linekin Bay Resort an annual event. They even came to treasure the 12-hour car trip from their home in Allentown, Pennsylvania — stopping at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery, rushing through Wiscasset to beat the Red’s Eats traffic, and shouting “open the windows and smell the fresh air!” as soon as they made the left onto Lobster Cove Road to drive the final stretch to their destination.
The Landis family is returning for their 37th visit this summer. Jan and John are now 79, their boys are in their 40s, and their twin granddaughters are 17. They’re one of dozens of families for whom Linekin Bay Resort is a cherished annual tradition. Nearly half of the resort’s guests return at least once, and many of them, like the Landis family, have been returning year after year for decades.
Opened in 1919 as a summer camp for girls, the 20-acre property at the edge of its namesake bay became an all-inclusive family resort in 1946, and was operated by the same family until 2016, when it was purchased by Scott Larson and Steve Malcolm.
The new owners renovated and expanded the property, which includes three lodges and 23 cabins. Amenities like tennis, meals, and the pool are reserved for overnight guests, but day-trippers can dock and dine, take sailing lessons, and enjoy other resort offerings.
“The promise of returning each July is what gets us through the winter,” says Jeanne Gualtieri, of Long Island, New York. She and her husband, Vito, first visited on their honeymoon in 1968, then returned 30 years later with their four kids. They have returned every year since, even as the brood grew to include spouses and nine grandchildren who come in from Texas, Virginia, and Massachusetts. They play epic games of Trivial Pursuit. Vito regales the kids with tales of his career as a tugboat captain and takes the kids out on one of the resort’s sailboats to teach them how to tack and jibe. Jeanne loves getting up early to watch the sunrise with the grandkids and walking through Boothbay Harbor with her daughters.
“We’re just so grateful to get that time together,” says Jeanne.
The 20-acre site, which was originally a girls’ summer camp, now offers a saltwater pool, tennis, sailing, and other amenities.
Mark Denbeaux, an attorney from New Jersey, started coming to Linekin Bay 40 years ago when his three kids were pre-teens. Over the years, they all fell in love with their week in Maine, removed from TVs, phones, and the distractions of everyday life, where they could forge bonds with one another and the other families.
“You had this feeling of going back in time,” Denbeaux says. “You could enjoy being with your kids and watching them with their peers. You could see them in their element, which you don’t get to do a lot at home in everyday life.”
Some time in the late 1980s, Denbeaux challenged the kids to make the half-mile swim to Cabbage Island. They loved the romance of swimming to an island so much that they made it into an annual pilgrimage. The kids, who are now in their 40s and 50s, still revel in the swim every year, and the swimmers now range in age from 10 to 65, and include his grandkids.
For Denbeaux’s niece Jane Slade, annual reunions in Maine have been a constant since she was 11 years old. Now 39, she looks forward to the marathon games of canasta, the swim to Cabbage Island, and renewing the bonds she’s forged over decades with the friends she’s made at Linekin. She loves watching the kids jump off the pier just like she did when she was their age, and cherishes the time with the older generation of relatives and friends. “I just adore the time with the people we’ve built relationships with,” she says. “ There’s always so much laughing. And while it’s nice to travel new places for adventure, there’s something so nice about going away to a place that feels like home.”