by Michael Blanding
The key word in the resort’s name is “Oceanfront,” and upon entering one of the Sparhawk’s oceanview rooms, your family will find themselves speechless. With balconies practically suspended over the cliffs of southern Maine’s rocky shores, the effect is like being on the deck of a cruise ship plying the waves of the Atlantic. The Sparhawk’s location on the cliffs overlooking the ocean and Ogunquit River has long made it a sought-after place to stay in this beachside resort.
The spacious grounds include 88 guestrooms in four different buildings, with most of them concentrated in the main building overlooking the ocean. The resort began its life in the Victorian era as Sparhawk Hall, a grand summer resort first opened in 1897. In the 1960s and 70s, two other buildings were constructed on the property; and in 1978, it acquired the Barbara Dean Restaurant to complete its present footprint. In between them, the lawn is manicured with gardens overflowing with flowers, as well as a large pool, tennis courts and other activities to keep everyone in the family busy.
In addition to providing such a dramatic view, the Sparhawk’s location also affords it an easy access to the beach, as well as making it a short walk or trolley ride into town. That combination of convenience and luxury has justly made it one of Ogunquit’s most popular resorts.
Our Editor Loves
- Beautiful oceanfront views
- A quick walk to the beach
- Tennis and lawn games
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The Sparhawk has a range of rooms to fit every taste and family size, spread out over four buildings on the property. DÃƒÂ©cor also ranges widely between rooms. While the rooms are in a constant state of refurbishment, they seem slightly dated, with busily patterned bedspreads and nondescript art. Your eyes will most likely be too trained on the views of the ocean to notice the walls though. All of the rooms include private balconies or patios, refrigerators, TV's, and free, wireless Internet.
Calling these rooms "motel units" is definitely underselling them -- yes, they line a long motel-like building along the seawall, but the ocean views alone are enough to put them far above such modest appellations. The 51 rooms in the oceanfront building account for more than half of the rooms on the property and they come in a range of sizes and configurations. Guests can enjoy one king, two queens, and two double beds, and some can fit cots or cribs to accommodate a fifth person. Bathrooms have showers and most have tubs (four designated-handicap bathrooms have showers only) and a separate outside vanity area. All of these rooms also include flat-screen TV's and refrigerators.
Little White House
In addition to the rooms in the main building is a small, very popular little cottage dubbed the "Little White House" that sits at one end of the building with two bedrooms. It includes a queen and two twin beds and a full kitchen, sofa bed and fireplace. Families should book far in advance for a stay in this unit.
Ireland House Oceanview Suites
Built in the 1960s and named after an owner of the property whose last name was Ireland (sorry, no leprechauns here), the Ireland House consists of 20 suites with open floor plans and two queen beds in each. All of them are angled towards the ocean for a drop-dead water view; the most popular suite is the one on the very end of the building, which has an extra window that allows you to see more of the sea. A separate living room area includes a couch, chairs, flat-screen TV and refrigerator. Eight of the suites also have the capability of being connected to form four super-suites, able to hold up to 10 people each. Rollaway cots and cribs are also available for these suites.
Barbara Dean Oceanview Suites
Located on the front of the property closest to Shore Road, this building is the former Barbara Dean restaurant, which was converted into a mix of seven suites and three efficiency apartments. Despite the distance from the ocean, however, its elevation on the property still affords slightly obstructed views of the ocean across the grounds. The suites vary in configuration, including one king or two queen beds, some with a separate sitting area or room for a rollaway cot or crib. All have flat-screen TV's and refrigerators. The three efficiencies also include kitchenettes. The most popular room is the third-floor apartment with separate bedrooms and the best view of the ocean.
Jacobs House Luxury Suites
The most luxurious rooms on the property are in this building, constructed in the 1970's as the residence of one of the owners. It has since been converted into five suites, with a variety of layouts, including a king bed studio suite, and one- and two-bedroom suites. One has a full kitchen and several have gas fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs.
We stayed here for two nights and the setting is beautiful! It is situated right at the beginning of the Marginal Way with gorgeous ocean views. There is not a bad room in the place. A light breakfast is available, and it’s an easy way to start the day. Reservations can be hard to get, so plan your stay well in advance.
So glad to be returning after 8 years away, and check-in was as easy and friendly as we remembered. This time we had room 82 in Ireland House, which is one room over from the top of the stairs and near the ice machine, and ironing board storage. The room has less chintz than our previous visit – nice plain green bed covers on the two double beds, and most of the walls are light cream. The tiny bathroom has been redone and it been tiled with lovely stone-type tiles. The sofa and chairs are comfortable and we loved relaxing on the balcony. I only had a chance to swim in the pool one day, but it was bliss. There was always plenty to eat for breakfast – muffins, cereals, yoghurts, boiled eggs and toast. There’s a microwave to make porridge in, or as we did on a cold morning, heat some UK baked beans to have on toast! Location is perfect – easy walk to restaurants, the beach or Perkin’s Cove, along the Marginal way. We certainly won’t let another 8 years pass before we return!
Pool and Beach
Activities at the Sparhawk revolve around water. It has one of the largest pools in Ogunquit that is heated to about 82 degrees with depths ranging from 3.5 to 5.5 feet. The Sparhawk's location makes it easy to get to the beach, either by walking along a path for no more than 10 minutes, or by walking down to the shore of the Ogunquit River and swimming, tubing or wading across to the town's main beach. The resort also affords access to the Marginal Way, a 1.5-mile walking path along the cliffs that passes several secluded coves with beaches and tidepools on its way down to the lobstering village-turned-shopping center of Perkins Cove.
Tennis and Lawn Activities
In addition, the resort has one tennis court located right on the grounds; guests can sign up and either bring their own racquets or borrow those owned by the resort. The grounds also have a shuffleboard court, and a chest full of other lawn activities, including croquet.
The large breakfast room has shelves lined with board games, LEGO's, children's books and other activities to keep kids busy on rainy days.
All room rates include a breakfast buffet of coffee, juice, muffins, hard-boiled eggs, bagels, cereal and the like. The Sparhawk doesn't have a restaurant, but is within walking distance of many dining options on Shore Road and Main Street.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The Sparhawk doesn't have a fitness room; however, it does offer guests membership at Seacoast Fitness -- a full-service gym located about five minutes away by car.
The Art of Smart Timing
Ogunquit's high season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day; expect warm, bright sunny days and cool ocean breezes. Of course, since the high season is short, you can also expect to pay a premium at this time. You can save a little money by booking in May or September, though you are taking some chances with cool weather, especially at night -- this is Maine, after all. The inn is closed between November and mid-April.
Ogunquit is an easy 90-minute drive from Boston's Logan International Airport (though you'll have to time traffic in the summer), and just an hour from the airports in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Portland, Maine.
A car is by no means a necessity in Ogunquit, and can be a downright liability with parking in summer. A trolley shuttle run by the town offers convenient transportation to all of Main Street, the Main Beach and Footbridge Beach, and all the way down Shore Road to Perkins Cove. Sparhawk is located directly on the trolley route, too.
For Mom and Dad
For those looking to hit the links, Sparhawk offers a 20 percent discount on tee times at the Cape Neddick Golf Course, a beautiful Oceanside Donald Ross-designed course in nearby York.