The sixth sense, built on sense of place
‘When in the course of human events,” a elemental force greater than ourselves tries to wipe clean the slate of our memories, the result is often the opposite. The imagery of fun times, magical sunsets, dear friends and family – and the locals who set the stage our experiences played out on, rolls even more vividly on the “screen” in the backs of our heads.
When Katrina struck New Orleans, we remembered the Bourbon Street we walked in the rain, the lobby floor that was now underwater and the people at the desk, in the restaurant, on the streets and shops who were now at risk while we were safe and dry far away.
As Cat5 hurricanes overtook the Caribbean – and an earthquake and volcano brought down the church tower we’d seen with our own eyes in Mexico – the loss was our own because of the people and places we’d become a part of as they became a part of us.
That’s what “oceanside memories made in Maine” are all about. They shape a sixth sense that is a blend of all the others: the sights, sounds, scents, taste and touch of this place called Spruce Point Inn in Boothbay Harbor on the midcoast of Maine. That activating agent is the ‘water’ that brings the condensed essences of the other five back to life. It is made of living. Of experiences. And certainly of the people we’ve met along the way. (The fact that the SPI ‘activating agent’ is salt water makes it all the more soul-satisfying and preservative!)
Some hotels believe that automated self-check in, enabled by technology and AI, is the wave of the future. That guests are there for the bed-linens and the bath amenities.
We know better – not in the sense that we impose ‘our way’ on the guests we serve, but in the sense that every bit of feedback we get from walking around the property, introducing guests to wind, water and fire (the seabreeze that builds on a summer day, the perspective of Boothbay Harbor and the islands from aboard Bright Line and the community of all ages built around the firepit) demonstrates what makes people happy. Setting the stage for that is what we’re here for.
Whatever happens to one of our guests happens good or bad, here or there, to us. And we know, because guests tell us, that Spruce Point is part of the family geography of all the places from which our guests come. We strive to make sure we’ve done everything we can to create that “sense of place” that can only come from the authentic source. We know guests return to refresh that sense with experiences both familiar and new – another walk down Main Street, another sunset in 88, another nap lulled by the sounds from the shore.
We are mindful that happens here lives in their thoughts, even when they’re far away. The necklace bought in town and the woman who described making it, the housekeeper whose smile lights the stuffed animal dropped on the path, the shell or pebble picked up on our beach that now sits on a desk, the Spruce Point coaster under this evening’s glass of wine in the city high-rise – they’re all touchstones that activate that sense. That’s why they’re called “souvenirs” – from the French for “memory” based on the Latin “sub” (beneath) and “venire” (to come). Whether they bring you back now or later, the sixth sense of place holds them in your heart.