Seven bedrooms; 7.5 bathrooms; sleeps 18; larger groups possible.
About Colie O'Donnell
We started building the stone houses in October 2006. It took five years to finish, working spring, summer, and fall and towards the end, working through the winter, though we had to pick the days to avoid really dangerous winter conditions. I was out there almost every day, in all kinds of weather, guiding the process and working with the crews. I ran the landing craft, did errands mid day, operated the crane and Lull and other equipment, and coordinated the logistical challenges moving thousands of tons of materials, across four miles of water. Somehow we persevered through the economic crash of '08 and other calamities along the way. The fact that all the stone as well as windows, doors, and wind turbines are from China is another story. One of the most gratifying experiences of this island project has been to see how much people love gathering here for family reunions. I hope you too will enjoy it as my family and so many others have. And I hope you will return for many years to come and that this little island will become a significant place in your life, as it has in mine.
Colie O'Donnell purchased this Lodge in 1986
Why Colie O'Donnell chose Stonington
I bought Spruce Island thirty-one years ago. The island had nothing on it then. The first trip out, I rowed the four miles alone in an eight foot dingy. I remember it was a beautiful fall day, but quite windy and it was a slog getting back to Stonington against the headwind. There was something about that island and that archipelago that was just so stunning. I recall very well sitting for the first time on the smooth granite slide on the east shore, transfixed by the beauty. I was unemployed at the time, with a wife (also unemployed) and two young children. Having just graduated from business school, I should have known better but instead I spent all my savings on it.
What makes this Lodge unique
To some people, the architecture of these stone houses may be rather plain and sever, but they are strong and enduring, as is the island they are a part of, and to me that is both practical and beautiful. The heavy stone structure easily withstands powerful winter storms and requires virtually no maintenance that over time will offset the added cost of building on an island with stone. Set 125 feet above sea level, they offer commanding views of the surrounding ocean, but remain protected from even the most dire predictions of sea level rise. Inside, they are warm and playful. They have all the practical comforts of a mainland residence, but a simplicity and plainness that are out-of-the-ordinary and refreshing.
Check-in: 3:00 pm
Check-out: 9:00 am
Renter must discuss with Owner prior to booking.
No smoking allowed.
Dogs only. $150 fee.
Minimum age of primary renter:30
Owner reserves right to review and cancel booking and issue full refund within 7 days after Traveler initiates booking.
Traveler must read and accept the terms of the Rental Agreement.
No refunds for cancellations made after payment is made
Paradise for a group
Imagine instead of buying a house you camped out on the site for two decades, understanding it, meditating on its best uses, figuring out how to enjoy it to the fullest. That's what Colie has done with Spruce Island. The main house and the "dorm" are beautifully constructed granite buildings with every detail thoughtfully considered and perfectly in keeping with how they are placed in their setting. Inside the houses have beautiful details-- I especially liked the ribbon tiebacks on the bedroom curtains and the wooden swing in the main house.
We were a family group of three adult siblings and our partners and young-adult children. We didn't know how it would be for kids aged 17 to 27 to live on an island for a week. The answer was it was heavenly. The kids automatically reverted back to playing rather than screening-- at any given time there was a group on the badminton lawn, a pair at the ping pong table, a foursome at the boardgame spot, or some people doing watercolor paintings.
We also did a lot of fun things in the ocean-- swimming around the island (in our wetsuits), kayaking, jumping off rocks, taking an ecotour with Old Quarry, boating into town for lobster rolls and ice cream, or over to Isle au Haut for a hike. Every evening we all sat around the campfire near the house and sang songs or talked or just looked up at the sky.
We did not have perfect weather, and that really did not detract from our enjoyment. It's not the kind of beach house that is just there for shelter; it is a pleasure to be in it. We cooked a lot in the very well equipped kitchen, as well as grilling outside in the "summer kitchen".
And all of this was done with a very small carbon footprint-- the island is solar-powered and uses cisterns of rainwater. Who knew that off-the-grid could be so comfortable. Thank you Colie for sharing your island with us!
We were a group of friends. Some see each other frequently, some only every few years, some had never met. Most of us loved the isolation, a couple missed the shopping/nightlife. But we reinforced bonds that will last a lifetime. The first evening there was a group outside talking, shouting, laughing 'til I cried, Then there would be a lull and laughter would erupt from the inside. The entire week was that way.
We ate like kings. Fresh grilled Mackerel caught at the landing, roost beef, prime rib, steaks, chops, fresh veggies from the island gardens. The outdoor kitchen was great for steaming lobsters. The really nice grill cooked everything else. The inside kitchen was every well equipped, right down to the KichenAid mixer.
We wanted for nothing. Hiking trails, fishing rods and tackle box, kayaks, chairs and picnic areas at the beach with grills, and some things I never got around to using.
This is a well equipped property, had everything we needed. Six couples each with their own bedroom and bath.
I will be back.
Ideal family retreat
Take a step back to a simpler time when families would retreat to a cabin in the woods to beat the summer heat and recharge their internal batteries. Except that Spruce Island is no rustic camp. It has all the modern conveniences to house and feed a crowd in comfort. And after ten seasons of listening and responding to guest feedback, the host has got the property dialed in. Walking trails through the woods lead to the granite ledger shoreline. Hammocks strategically placed to catch the breeze dot the shoreline. There are two private beaches with chairs, picnic tables, and grills to take advantage of wind and sun. The support staff, who are all long term associates, are responsive, knowledgeable, and nice. Our visits to spruce island have become the highlight of our year.
The perfect getaway!
This was our first time at Spruce Island and I hope to come back again. We had a group of 12 people and dogs. The adults loved the R&R and the kids loved the beach, especially at low tide where you can explore the tidal pools. We saw lots of little snails and hermit crabs! At low tide some of the rocks were a bit slippery so make sure you pack good water shoes!
For the more adventurous adults we would walk around the entire island (hiking shoes/sneakers are a must!). There were well marked trails around the island to help you navigate. The dogs also LOVED exploring the island. At the end of each day they were so tired from all the running around :D (if your dog has sensitive paws I would recommend bringing some booties).
There were also plenty of kayaks to adventure out on. You can take the kayaks out and explore other islands in Merchant Row. We would pack lunch and have picnics and also take short hikes on the other islands as well.
The house is very well maintained and you could feel the thoughtfulness and care Colie put into building the stone houses. Everything in the house was well labeled so you could easily find what you were looking for. Also, the views from the crows nests were absolutely gorgeous! The movie projector was a big hit for the kids (all ages) whether it was cartoons in the morning (during adult coffee time), rainy days or before bed time. There were also plenty of kid games (board games, ping pong, etc).
The check-in and check-out process is very easy and well organized. Especially if you are bringing a lot of coolers and groceries.
A few items to note for future renters - there are plenty of fresh herbs and lettuce on the island so no need to bring your own lettuce! Also, the house is supplied with a washer/dryer so really no need to pack a ton of clothes. All in all, the house is well equipped so just bring yourself, food, wine and a good book. I highly recommend this!
Wonderful family vacation
This was our third year experiencing Spruce Island and each year was better than the last! Being familiar with the island and were able to explore even more of all of the area. Our group include three generations and everyone loved kayaking, hiking, hitting golf balls, badminton, cooking on the campfire and boating to Stonington. It was a wonderful chance to reconnect with nature and with each other. We highly recommend Colie's island.
Southern Californians first family reunion in Maine! Fabulous!
We were a family of 18 (including 8 kids ages 6 months to 11 years), and we decided to pick this unique and incredible island in Maine for our first real family reunion. We could not have picked a more fabulous location. We have all traveled extensively so we know a good find.
I'm writing this review for other people located on the west coast and think it might be too far. It isn't. But it does take some planning.
We all flew into Boston (Bangor is probably the closest airport to the island where you could rent a car). Some of us stayed in Boston for a bit and some of us drove immediately north and stayed in NH. Our small group stopped in Danvers to shop: furthest North Costco that exists. Drive time Boston to Stonington is about 6 hours, but we needed most of the day with kids. Colie was fabulous in working with us for pick up. He has a parking lot where you park your car, he loads you into the amphibious vehicle with all your stuff and groceries and deposits you at the house on the island. It's very seamless.
There is an amazing amount to do besides the beautiful beaches, which we used daily and are equipped with chairs, BBQs and picnic tables (we could've used a beach umbrella or two): you can hike fully around the island, badminton, ping pong, tons of balls, games, puzzles, corn hole, huge jenga and the highlight for our kids: an enormous swinging chair inside.
The separation of the houses is a great. We ate lobster until we were sick of it. The kids learned about composting, water conservation, walking everywhere (there is a golf cart we used with the little ones), and everyone just got off screens and hung out.
We loved the views from the island, watching the lobster boats and the fog and even a thunderstorm.
We highly recommend you rent the dinghy as we needed to go back and forth a bit for various reasons. And we explored different islands with it. There are great places nearby to discover. Colie bravely took the group with kids on a morning island hopping trip where we saw bald eagles, porpoises, and seals. One of our crew even arranged a trip on a lobster boat for work purposes.
On the tail end we spend a day and a half driving back to Boston and visited Camden and Salem (Witch House is worth the visit).
We highly recommend this trip. The house had everything you needed. Just bring clothes and food and your kindle.
Thank you Colie!
Spruce Island is a small, 80 acre private island in Merchants Row, half way between Bar Harbor to the east and Camden to the west. Isle au Haut, part of Acadia National Park, is about 5 miles to the south. Merchants Row is renowned for its scenic beauty and is a destination for boaters from around the world. There are dozens of small, uninhabited islands in the area that can be explored by kayak or other small boat and on foot. Robert McCloskey’s “Time of Wonder”, captures the essence of summering on a small Maine island in this area. Stonington is a pituresque fishing Village frequented by artists who capture its unique beauty on canvas and film. There is an old Opera House in town, built originally to entertain the many thousands of granite workers in the 1800's, which now conducts plays and musical performances throughout the year. There is a fresh water quarry on a near by uninhabited island that is a wonderful place to swim.
Other Activities: campfires on the beach; lobster bakes, Kayaking, Boating, Wildlife Viewing