CAMDEN — A presence in Camden for a century, the Belmont Inn has opened its doors this season under a mother-daughter ownership team.
Kim Caffe purchased the inn in December 2018 for $845,000 from Anita Zeno and will be running the inn with her daughter, Lauren.
The inn, according to its website, was built as a family home in 1891 and converted to an inn during the 1920s.
Kim enters her newest venture, located one block off Route 1, with a background in hospitality and counseling, eager to combine her two pasts with this new experience.
Though Kim is not from Maine herself, she is familiar with the state. Her parents and grandparents hail from the state and her great, great grandfather, Daniel Davis, was the state’s 37th governor.
She has visited parts of the state, namely Dedham’s Phillips Lake and Camden, for over 50 years before relocating to the Midcoast.
“I made up my mind that if we had the opportunity to return [to Maine] on a more permanent basis, I would take it,” Kim said about her motivation to purchase the inn. “I love everything about Maine. It has remained the one constant through all the changes life throws at you, and we have made the trek back every year to regenerate. I wanted to share that with others, and the Belmont Inn provided the opportunity to do that.”
Before committing to the inn business, Kim stayed at several inns, including the Belmont Inn, in the area to get a feel for the local hospitality environment. Upon staying at the Belmont Inn, Kim recalls immediately knowing she found what she desired.
“The large wrap-around porch, well-tended perennial gardens, elegant rooms and the ideal location sold it for me,” she said.
No major changes have been made to the six-bedroom inn’s operations, Kim said, only some minor ones such as an earlier check-in time, more breakfast courses (three instead of two) and a more flexible start time for breakfast.
For now, the exact plans for after the summer and fall seasons is up-in-the air.
Kim is keeping an open mind to staying open year-round citing Camden’s abundance of year-round events.
Running the inn with her daughter is something Kim considers to be special.
“We are both very passionate about Maine and it helps that we share the same mission — to have our guests leave this place feeling a little better than when they walked through the door,” Kim said.
While Kim handles the larger business operations, Lauren primarily focuses on social media marketing and the inn’s website. Both split the day-to-day work including serving breakfast, guest check-in and customer relations.
Lauren, a rising sophomore studying environmental studies and government at Bowdoin College, cherishes the opportunity to work with her mother on this new chapter in life.
“We’ve always visited Camden during the summer and to get the opportunity to live and worth with [my mom] at this really special place seemed too good to be true,” Lauren said. “My mom has done so much for me while I was growing up that working for her is the least I could do, and I knew that for us it was going to be so much fun to meet new people, be in our favorite place, and spend time together before I have to go back to college again.”
Though the Caffes have only owned the inn for a few months, Lauren has learned a great deal from her mother including interior design, painting, gardening and forming relationships with the community.
“I want the inn to be successful, of course, but I also want to make sure that all our guests leave the Belmont happier than when they came through the door,” Lauren said. “That’s what matters most — that they’ll want to visit Maine again and that my mom and I had some kind of role in making that happen.”
Moving forward, the Caffes plan to maintain the inn’s ambiance of being a quintessential Maine summer home, as Kim said, that has hosted a century’s worth of Camden visitors.
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