Friday, August 22, 2014

As Summer Nears End, Hoteliers Ready for Busy Surge

It’s that time of year again — the kids are starting to pack their book bags and add to their wardrobe for the start of the new school year and vacationers are eying Labor Day plans for that last big summer hurrah before the fall. Like most in the hotel industry, we at The Daniel are prepping for what promises to be a big Labor Day.

Based on booking data, Expedia is predicting that Labor Day 2014 will see a considerable increase in travelers booking air tickets, hotel room and rental cars compared to Labor Day weekend 2013. AAA  is predicting 34.7 million travelers will hit the road on Labor Day weekend. Last year, AAA said 34.1 million travelers hit the road — the highest number in five years.

So if they are right, this year promises to be another watermark!

In Brunswick, and at The Daniel, late summer also means one big thing — the arrival of Bowdoin College students! When the college gets back to full swing it will bring just under 1,800 students to the area. From Aug. 26, the first arrival day, through Sept. 4, when classes start, all these students will make the trek back to Brunswick. This stretch is full of students and their families throughout Brunswick.

Bowdoin’s Class of 2018 arrives on Aug. 26 with a full day of activities and excitement to start of their collegiate careers. Orientation and First Year Programming includes Orientation Trips that send first-year Bowdoin students out into the local region for activities that including backpacking, hiking, kayaking and trips to coastal islands.

Bowdoin’s President Barry Mills will host a reception for parents on the evening of Aug. 26, which is always a big draw. Also, popular during the college’s orientation are visits to the unique Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum & Arctic Studies Center and well respected Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

Aside from those connected to Bowdoin, the local Maine community will certainly be keeping itself busy soaking up the waning rays of sunshine this summer.

Locals and visitors alike will not want to miss the last few August and early September weekends at the beach. In the Brunswick area, this often means treks to nearby Georgetown and the beaches at Reid State Park or the ever popular Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg.

Another very popular attraction, as the heat dies down and the nights cool, is ArtWalk Maine, which allows guests to explore artist studios, galleries, museums, and assorted venues in beautiful downtowns across the state. ArtWalk Maine is a passport to discover the creative communities and working artists of Maine, from Biddeford to Bangor, Portland to Presque Isle.

Each year, about 80 communities take part in ArtWalk Maine. Traditionally, held on Friday evenings between 5-9 p.m., the events often include receptions, street performances and specials at local restaurants.

Our expectations for a busy end-of-summer stretch in Maine falls right in line with what hoteliers are expecting around the country.

In 2014, demand for air tickets over Labor Day weekend has increased 20 percent, with the majority of travelers departing on Friday, Aug. 29, according to Expedia. Demand for hotel rooms is up more than 30 percent and hotel room rates have increased as well, averaging just over $180 per night over this holiday weekend, up approximately 3 percent from 2013. While demand for car rentals has increased more than 35 percent, rental rates are slightly lower this Labor Day weekend.

While Labor Day has traditionally been more of a “stay local” holiday versus some of the summer’s other big weekends, the data suggests that it is becoming an increasingly popular travel option.

Expedia’s Sarah Gavin offers a few tips for saving over Labor Day weekend: consider off-the-beaten track destinations — the most popular destinations are often the most expensive; and be flexible with your flying schedule — consider flying on Saturday morning or extending your trip through Monday evening.

The 10 most popular destinations for Labor Day weekend are: Las Vegas; Chicago; New York City; Atlanta; San Diego, Calif.; Seattle; Orange County, Calif.; Los Angeles; Miami; and Houston.

According to Expedia, the best deals for Labor Day weekend can be found in:

Palm Springs, Calif. — Hotel rates are down 12 percent from last year
Charleston, S.C. — Hotel rates are down 10 percent from last year
Virginia Beach, Va. — Hotel rates are down nearly 9 percent from last year
Ocean City, Md. — Hotels rates are down 4 percent from last year
Austin, Texas — Average hotel rates are $177 per night, down 8 percent from last year
New Orleans — Average hotel rates are $172 per night
Washington — Average hotel rates are $145 per night
Denver — Average hotel rates are $144 per night

We at The Daniel say there is no place better for a Labor Day trip than Brunswick, Maine! Some of the most popular Labor Day activities for travelers in the U.S. include dining and shopping — which Brunswick has plenty of. For returning Bowdoin students, we say welcome back! For the new students and their parents, we hope your first collegiate send-off trip is a great one!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Coastal Living: Collection from Local Photographer offers Guests a Window into Maine’s Ocean Culture

Land's End on Bailey Island. (Pepper Gross)

Guests at The Daniel or visitors to the Coast Bar +Bistro can get a picturesque window into the soul of life on Maine’s coast and they have local photographer Pepper Gross to thank. Gross is the perfect example of the kind of local talent we want to use to inflect the spirit of the region into the guest experience at our hotel.

A native of Brunswick, Gross is in her senior year at Wheaton College in Chicago, studying international business with a minor in fine art photography and digital arts.

The 21-year-old has a passion for travel and has visited almost 30 countries throughout the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Africa, using her keen eye for landscape and the essence of local environment to document her travels with photos. She loves exploration, discovery and the use of photography to capture the diverse people and landscapes that the world has to offer.

For The Daniel, she turned this passion and vision toward the coast of Maine and the places she grew up. She contributed about 60 photos that are placed throughout The Daniel and the Coast Bar + Bistro.

The setting is mostly Harpswell, including Bailey Island, Orr’s Island, and popular local spot Popham Beach.

“For these photos I focused on the coastal area of Maine. I have grown up around here and I know all the scenic spots to take pictures,” Gross says. “I tried to take pictures that will engage both the locals and people who have not seen these types of places.”

The photos emphasize the variances of light in an oceanic setting, the ocean’s interaction with nature and the infusion of man-made objects representing the connection of people to the sea.

Gross calls the photos classic Maine images, similar to travel photography with a mixture of landscapes and close ups. They incorporate fine art, macro shot and still life photography techniques.

The motif of images connected to the ever-present lobster industry is common throughout the photos, as is the capture of trivial tidbits of the coast life set against the omnipresence of the ocean.

Gross’ favorite photo is a black and white capture of the statue of a fisherman in Land’s End on Bailey Island. The statue is an ode to fishermen, living and dead, and the lives they lead and the importance of their contributions to the local culture.

“That kind of just typifies the area I grew up in,” she says. “It is a classic statue that pays tribute to fishermen, who work hard all their lives.”

Another favorite is the shadow and light infused image of the Cribstone Bridge in Harpswell that connects Bailey Island and Orr’s Island. The bridge has a unique design that uses granite slabs from local quarries in an open cribbing placement that allows the tidal water to ebb and flow freely through
Cribstone Bridge, Orr's Island. (Pepper Gross)
the bridge. The bridge looms prominently in the background of the photo with a parking and boat launching sign detailing cost and payment information in the foreground.

“This picture shows the way that Maine-ards make a living off of tourism and also shows what the locals do — it is a combination of these two things,” Gross said.

The photos include both black and white, but Gross does profess a particular affinity to the black and white images. “I really love black and white. The ones that look best in black and white are generally my favorites,” she says.

One of the things Gross also loved about the assignment was the chance to revisit places familiar to her with a critical eye. “It was really neat just kind of looking at what I have grown up with in a different light,” she added.

At The Daniel we want to help our guests experience coastal Maine living and the way Gross was able to walk through the region with her photos helps them do just that. The photos have already received numerous compliments and there is no doubt they will be a talking point for all our visitors.

See below for more samples of Pepper Gross’ photos currently at The Daniel and the Coast Bar + Bistro.

Lobsterman's wharf, Bailey Island. (Pepper Gross)

Bailey Island. (Pepper Gross)

Popham Beach. (Pepper Gross)

To check out some of Pepper Gross’ other photography visit: Pepperspray.     

Friday, August 8, 2014

Local Favorite Lauren Crosby to Release Debut CD at The Daniel

Thursday Night Live @ The Daniel favorite singer/songwriter Lauren Crosby is local Maine musician at heart, but a trip to Memphis drove her to get in the studio and record her first CD. An accomplishment she will celebrate on Saturday, Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. when she has her CD Release Party at the Coast Bar+ Bistro.

Crosby is a rising folkie bluesy singer/songwriter from Georgetown Island, Maine, who has been compared to legendary singers such as Janis Joplin and Edie Brickell. Fans have lauded her music for being real, raw and poetic.

Since The Daniel kicked off its Thursday Night Live @ The Daniel this past spring Crosby has been back several times by popular demand to perform. She is a perfect example of the local talent that The Daniel wants to serve as a platform for.

Sure, no cover charge for shows and the food and drink specials for Thursday Night Live @ The Daniel are great, but getting the chance to get up close and personal with musicians like Crosby is what has the crowds growing and musicians excited to come and perform.

Crosby says The Daniel has quickly become one of her favorite places to play and she could think of no better location for her CD Release Party.

“I absolutely fell in love with the acoustics of the Coast Bar + Bistro,” Crosby says. “It has such pretty acoustics. I could just sing there and play all night long.”

She also says she likes the bar’s setting and feels it has a homey touch. “The feel of the place is really good.”

The central location of Brunswick was another big bonus for Crosby as she sought a location to launch her CD that was accessible to family, friends and her growing region of fans.

She pointed out that for her, and other local musicians, The Daniel has become a great addition to the growing scene in Brunswick. “Brunswick is just thriving right now. Brunswick is a very, very cool scene,” she says. “It is an artsy town on the coast of Maine and it is a very nice place to have to go to as a musician.”

The 20-year-old Crosby is a student at the University of Maine, Farmington, studying to become and English teacher, but she has been singing in music shows since she was 14 years old. When she was 17, she started playing guitar and began to hone her singer/songwriter act. Once in college, she used her music gigs to help pay for her schooling. Crosby is a prolific live performer — she plays two gigs a week during the college school year and plays four-to-five nights a week during the summer.

Last fall, Crosby put her teaching education on hold for a semester and traveled to the University of Memphis to study blues and jazz. She was picked up by a local band and played some of Memphis’ famous musical hotspots. The positive reaction to her performing opened her eyes.

She says she has always received wonderful support from audiences in Maine, but to hear from locals in Memphis that they were impressed with her performing made her realize she might have what it takes to keep moving forward with music.

The musicians, in particular, encouraged her to record songs and release a CD.

“Memphis people were telling me, ‘Wow, you have to do something.’ So it was kind of like a really big push for me to do something,” she says. “In Memphis it was a life changing experience. It inspired me to make this CD.”

Also while in Memphis, Crosby found out she had won a prize in a song-writing contest. The prize was the chance to record songs at TRI Studios in California, a state of the art, world-class recording facility created by the legendary Grateful Dead founding member, Bob Weir.

Once back in Maine, Crosby launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her first album and raised just over $5,000 — enough to get her into Frog Hollow Studio in Brunswick and put together a 10-song CD.

She had some doubts about the Kickstarter idea, but says it could not gone better. “I am really, really lucky. I have tons of people behind me who are really supportive family,” she says. “It ended up working out really well.”

All the songs on Crosby’s self-titled debut CD were written when she was between the ages of 16 to 19 and reflect her upbringing on coastal Maine and the fishing community she grew up in.

She points to “Lobsterman Hands,” as an example of one of the songs that tells the story of the kind of townspeople she has known all her life and loves.

A personal favorite is the first song on the album and the first song she wrote, “Sell it To The Sea.” The song was recorded with the help of a local musician on the harmonica, someone she knew because he drove a lobster truck for her dad. Crosby emphasizes his contribution makes the track.

“He just played so unbelievably,” she says. “Stuff like that makes the album really special.”

We think you will find Lauren Crosby’s debut CD really special as well, so come celebrate it with her at The Daniel on Aug. 16!

Check out a complete track listing to “Lauren Crosby” below: 

Springtime In The Mountains
Dogfish Ale
No Worries
Lobsterman Hands

Start Time:  7 p.m. 
End Time: 10 p.m.
Lauren anticipates playing a set from 9-10 p.m.
Free and open to the public.  
Complimentary Hors d'oeuvres
Cash Bar