Splurge-worthy Mother’s Day destinations. Come on, you know she earned it

J. & E. Riggin schoonersails out of Rockland, Maine.
J. & E. Riggin
J. & E. Riggin schoonersails out of Rockland, Maine.

Skip the mimosa-sloshed brunch crowds this Mother’s Day, and give Mom what she really wants: a weekend away from her quotidian grind and dulling demands. It’s time for a rest and relaxation escape for the hardest-working person you know. Here are four splurgeworthy destinations for Mom; you know she deserves it!

A seaside sojourn

It’s nearly impossible to improve on the in-your-face, ocean views at the aptly-named Cliff House Maine, perched on Bald Head Cliff in Cape Neddick (855-210-6901, Fresh off a multimillion dollar renovation, this resort, set on 70 acres of waterfront property, has sweeping vistas of open ocean and the scenic rocky coastline. Suggest to Mom that she arrive as early as possible. Even if her room isn’t ready, she can drop her bags and head to the 9,000-square-foot luxury spa, which just opened this year. She can relax and warm in the steam room and sauna, before sinking into a cushy chair in the Sanctuary lounge, to sip on tea and soak up the views of the rolling waves pounding the jagged jumble of granite rocks below. Of course, you’ve included a spa treatment, right? We’d suggest the 80-minute Salt of the Sea or Seacoast Rose massage, or the very calming Water body treatment with an exfoliation of sea salt crystals, aloe, and deep sea algae.

The resort’s new, chic design is in harmony with the setting, with contemporary nautical touches, like framed sand dollars, rings of rope, and porthole windows. Hues mimic the coastline: ocean blues, sand beiges, and granite grays. Rooms are as clean and crisp as the seaside morning air in Maine, repeating the nautical theme, and including modern amenities, like free Wi-Fi and large screen TVs.


On warm evenings, Mom can linger on the terrace for drinks, before dining at The Tiller restaurant, with New American dishes (lobster mac and cheese, seared Maine salmon and grilled aged strip steak), and killer ocean views. Or, while in Maine: she may just go for steamed lobster at Nubb’s Lobster Shack, also on site.

A grand escape

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No matter how many times we come around the bend and catch a view of the Omni Mount Washington Hotel (603-278-1000,, a grandiose Renaissance Revival building with its pure white façade, striking red roof, and wraparound porch, we’re captivated. The sprawling hotel, built by Old World artisans and set in the shadows of the Presidential Mountain range, continues to impress. We can imagine a line-up of horse-drawn carriages at the grand entrance, bringing the rich and famous from New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, during the early 20th century; it was one of the finest, most luxurious hotels of its day.

Your Mom won’t arrive by carriage (though the resort offers horse-drawn carriage rides around the property), but when she enters the massive, historic lobby, with Tiffany transoms, brass fixtures, and an enormous fieldstone fireplace, she may feel elite. This palatial resort is historic yet modern (Wi-Fi, TVs, game room, restaurants, swimming pools, state-of-the-art spa), elegant but not pretentious, old but polished. There’s not a wear or tear in sight.

Rooms are tidy and basic, with cushy beds and comfy linens; it’s the public spaces and the great outdoors that beckon. The light-filled Conservatory is a favorite place to linger and relax, perhaps with a cup of coffee in the morning, or a glass of champagne as the sun slips behind the mountains. The cozy Princess Room is a favorite place for afternoon high tea or drinks before dinner in the classy main dining room.

Outdoor adventures abound: golf, archery, rock climbing, river tubing, hiking, biking, fly fishing, horseback riding, and more. After playing outdoors, send Mom to the spa for the Mount Washington Signature Body Ritual, a 75-minute treatment with a seven-jet Vichy massage shower, a triple exfoliation, and a light, hydrating massage. She’ll forgive all that worry you’ve caused her through the years.

Relax, s’il vous plait!


You may not be able to afford to send your Mom to the French countryside, but Mirbeau Inn and Spa at The Pinehills in Plymouth (877-647-2328,
may be a welcomed, close-by substitute. Located in the Pine Hills Golf Club community, this peaceful oasis is less than an hour’s drive south of Boston. The small cluster of buildings, housing 50 rooms and suites, a AAA Four Diamond restaurant, and a full-service, award-winning spa, is designed to resemble a French country estate, overlooking a Monet Gardens-inspired pond and pretty plantings. The vibe is relaxed with a focus on mind-body-spirit well-being, without being too New Age-y. It’s more about slowing down and savoring the good life: a fine glass of wine, a well-prepared meal, a 100-minute massage, a morning meditation walk.

The pampering continues in the rooms, which have dark woods, deep, jewel-colored fabrics, gas fireplaces, walk-in showers, and soaking tubs. Book your Mom a suite overlooking the gardens, where she can contemplate her getaway agenda. A visit to the spa is a must; it’s well-known in the area, drawing from the local golf community, but also a popular spot for couple and girlfriend retreats. There are 14 treatment rooms with warming fireplaces, and a slew of therapies, like the Crushed Cabernet Scrub, Honey and Wine Wrap, and the French Clay Detox. Mom might not want to ever leave the spa’s unique Resting Area, with lounge chairs surrounding a large stone fireplace and heated foot massage pool. There’s an outdoor terrace, too, with a whirlpool and bar. If Mom is feeling energetic, there’s golf on two championship, 18-hole courses, as well as a full roster of daily fitness classes. Your Mom’s stay will undoubtedly include dinner at The Bistro & Wine Bar, enjoying dishes like the Burgundian Escargot, Filet au Poivre, Grilled Swordfish Provencal, and Truffle-Stuffed Gnocchi.

Set sail

The winds and tides determine where the historic J. & E. Riggin schooner sails on its cruises out of Rockland, Maine (800-869-0604, All your Mom has to do is sit back and enjoy the scenery: rocky coastlines, busy harbors, secluded coves, and tiny fishing villages.

“Where we go is anyone’s guess,” says Annie Mahle, co-owner of the J. & E. Riggin. “It’s so beautiful here and we have so many choices for anchoring, that it really doesn’t matter where we end up. It’s about the discovery and delight in the journey, not how far or fast we go.”

The rebuilt 1927 two-masted schooner, a designated National Historic Monument, holds 24 passengers and six crew members. Three-, four-, and six-day cruises are offered; days are spent sailing Penobscot Bay and the watery wilderness of midcoast Maine, with time ashore each day to explore a pine-studded island or a small New England seaside town. And while the scenery is tops, guests also rave about the food, prepared by Mahle, a chef, cookbook author, and food columnist. There will be wood-fired breads, homemade chowders, and dishes inspired by what’s available from local fishermen and farmer’s markets, as well as a traditional lobster bake on a secluded island.


The J. & E. Riggin also hosts specialty sails, including cooking, quilting, photography, and popular knitting cruises, with on-board instructors.

“While every trip aboard the Riggin is unique, the knitting cruises offer a special opportunity to connect with like-minded folks,” says Mahle. But she adds, “You don’t need to know anything about knitting to sail with us on our knitting trip. There’s no pressure to participate if you just want to come along for the sailing, scenery, and the gourmet meals.”

Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at [email protected]