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Blair Hill Inn acquires prestigious business ranking

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GREENVILLE — Perched on a hillside, with magnificent sweeping views of Moosehead Lake, the Blair Hill Inn is heading into its 21st year of operation with the coveted new ranking of a Relais & Chateaux member.

Established in 1954 in France, Relais & Châteaux, according to their website, “is a worldwide association of more than 550 landmark hotels and restaurants operated by independent innkeepers, chefs and owners who share a passion for their businesses and a desire for authenticity in their relationships with their clientele.”

“We have considered this membership over the years,” said Ruth McLaughlin, who with her husband Dan, have owned the inn all this time. “But at the time we were so busy growing our business.”

Then last year Eric Hayward from the Libra Foundation called. He had spoken to them about joining Relais & Chateaux (R&C) three years ago. But, at the time, Ruth demurred. He asked Ruth if she recalled that last conversation. She had. He said he had good news, adding, “We really think with our Foundation’s vision of what we’re trying to create for this area, a place with a R&C rating would put the Moosehead region on the map for a new world wide audience.”

“He told me that we fit the bill and the Foundation has offered to help us with the application fees,” Ruth smiled broadly. “We were so surprised and delighted!”

As it turned out, after two unannounced stays from R&C inspectors, the McLaughlins received an acceptance letter in October. The letter came with an invitation to an induction ceremony in Madrid, Spain. So off they went to Madrid, and at the black tie ceremony, discovered they were the only establishment in North America that had been accepted that year. It was a humbling and extraordinary experience for two innkeepers from Greenville, Maine. They knew that being part of the R&C family was something that would enhance the Moosehead area by attracting travelers from all over the world.

With their new ranking, the McLaughlins are looking forward to welcoming Moosehead Lake native Tunney King as Sommelier and Beverage Manager.

“We are thrilled to have a Sommelier, and one who is well on his way to becoming a Master Sommelier, but more so, we are welcoming Tunney back to his home town!” Ruth wrote on their Facebook page. “Tunney grew up in this area and attended Greenville Schools with our two children. Dan helped coach Tunney in basketball during his middle school years. Having watched him grow from a little boy into a refined and truly nice young man and to now working with us at Blair Hill Inn, is thrilling.”

They are also welcoming esthetician and massage therapist Bailey Shank, who was raised in Texas. “Thanks to Bailey, the Spa at Blair Hill Inn will be offering an enhanced line of facials including microdermabrasion, chemical peels and extractions,” Ruth wrote. “We are thrilled to share her passion for making guests relax and unwind.

According to Bailey, “Skin is like a fingerprint, no one’s is the same and I am very passionate about helping people relax while helping them overcome any personal challenges they have with their skin.” She’ll be also working with Lisa Brasier, who has worked at the Inn for years, doing massage therapy. It will be a total spa experience.

“We had planned to have Chef Lawrence Klang, formerly of Tempo Dulu in Portland,” said Ruth. “But, he died suddenly last month,” she said. “We were shocked. He was an outstanding chef and although he hadn’t had the chance to work here yet,” she said, “I was struck during our conversations by what a wise, humble gentleman he was.” Serendipitously, one of Klang’s associates, also a chef, has just accepted the position at Blair Hill Inn this season. They will dedicate the season to Klang.

Blair Hill Inn and Spa will be open for the 2018 season in mid May. The restaurant opens to the public on Thursday, June 15th. For more information, visit them on the web: www.blairhill.com. They’re located at 351 Lily Bay Road in Greenville. Call 207-695-0224.

Contributed photo
GLOBAL HONOR FOR BLAIR HILL INN — Ruth and Dan McLaughlin, owners of the Blair Hill Inn in Greenville, meet Patrick O’Connell (center), chef and owner of the Inn at Little Washington during the Relais & Chateaux induction ceremony in Madrid, Spain recently.

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