Maine Innkeeper Interview:
Atlantic Birches Inn
By Caroline Russell, staff writer
Ray Deleo decided, after a 1995 visit to an inn in Connecticut, owned by an acquaintance, that being an innkeeper would fit well with the quality of life that he desired. As the owner of his own business, he could relax at the end of a day’s work, no matter how long. As an innkeeper, he could enjoy welcoming guests into their “home away from home”, getting to know them, and guiding them to a successful vacation.
For five years, Ray, a native New Yorker, and his wife Heidi, a native of Portland, Maine, looked for an inn during visits to Maine’s East Coast, which they loved, before Atlantic Birches became available. The first two and a half months were trying. Ray had to commute from New York Friday after work, and return Sunday evening, while Heidi operated the inn during the week. The Inn was already twenty-five percent booked for the summer, when the Deleos took over in June. They appreciated that the prior owners stayed on three days to help them get settled.
The Deleo’s pride and joy are Atlantic Birches Inn’s many unique features: it’s Victorian – style shingling by its builder, John Calvin Stevens in 1902, its oak interior, oak staircase, high ceilings, woodwork, moldings, etc., which remain as they were originally. The Deleos favorite room in the inn is the Old Orchard Special Occasions Room. It is a semicircular room with five windows. A bed with a wrought iron canopy is placed between the windows. Also in the room is a couch with a Victorian back and only one arm, called a “fainting” couch. An antique marriage license can also be seen in the room, as well as a manikin dressed in a wedding gown.
The most unusual happening that Ray recalls was the claim by the daughter of one of his guests that she saw in her room, the ghost of a woman dressed in a wedding gown, with a little boy standing beside her. This girl who was from Virginia, had worked in inns in Colonial Williamsburg, where she had also seen ghosts.
Being an innkeeper is about what Ray expected. The long workdays are not so difficult when it is for your own business. Heidi must get up very early to cook their hardy Continental Breakfast. Atlantic Birches Inn is open year round, and every season is beautifully and appropriately decorated. Ray’s favorite part of being an innkeeper, with Heidi and apprentice innkeeper, Alison, is greeting his guests, making them feel welcome, chatting with them at breakfast, and guiding them to the must-see attractions in the area.
Visit Atlantic Birches Inn at AtlanticBirches.com