Spectacle Island- America’s Best Loved Island RentalBy Private Islands Magazine • Sep 15th, 2008 • Category: Lifestyles & Personalities
Located just outside of Maine’s Bar Harbor, Spectacle Island is one of America’s best loved private island destinations. Resembling a pair of eyeglasses, the island is a perfect slice of Maine’s rustic charm, with a beautiful modern home hidden amid spruce and pine trees. Featured in Time Magazine and rated one of Travel and Leisure’s 2008 Top 10 Dream Trips, Spectacle has become an icon for unique American vacations.
Having shown that you can find amazing private islands right at home in the USA, owner Ashley “A.J.” Longmaid shares his experiences of growing up on this rustic Maine isle, and about the lessons island ownership has taught him.
Q: Spectacle Island is a very unique property, and has certainly been receiving a lot of attention lately in the media. How did you come into the island- does it have a history with your family?
A.J. Yes. Spectacle Island has been part of the family for 31 years, and I grew up here, searching the seashore for aquatic life and learning about life on the water. I owe a lot to growing up on an island. It has taught me over the years about preservation (nature), scheduling (the tide- it’s a lot easier to haul stuff when the tide is high, so being late makes the work harder!). I’ve definitely learned that “you can do it yourself!”
When you have trouble with equipment, electrical, plumbing, or the grass needs to be mowed, there is no one else to call, and this gives you confidence in yourself. It also teaches you about commitment and love, because to have an island you have to think about the people around you, not only yourself.
Q. What do you love most about being on the island?
A.J. There is really no one thing that I love the most. Living on an island is just different. Some people love the island lifestyle, whereas some people love downtown Manhattan. I say: what could you possibly love about downtown Manhattan?
But for conversation - the view is incredible. Having 360 degrees of ocean front is not possible unless you live on an island, not to mention that in one direction we can see for 5 miles, and the other 1.5 miles. I would say the seclusion, but we are really not that secluded: we can be in downtown Bar Harbor in less than 15 minutes. That’s shorter than the average commute to work!
Q: It’s such a rare experience, so I’m curious: how do people react when they find out you own your own private island?
I often hear; “Wow, really? Does anyone else live there, do you have running water, how do you get there?” and things along those lines. It’s normally a barrage of questions until I invite them to the island to see for themselves, but it’s generally difficult for people to understand what it’s like to own an island. Not to mention all the work involved!
Of course, some people are also a little jealous, and especially because I’m young, they wonder how I ended up with an island. The reality is very bittersweet, because Spectacle Island became mine through the death of my mother. The silver lining is that our times on the island have brought me closer to my father- islands definitely have a way of bringing families together.
Q: People often think of being on an island as an exclusively summertime activity, but it seems like it would be beautiful in the snow, too. Do you ever go to the island in the winter?
A.J. The new house that we have just finished in Fall of 2006 is fully equipped to handle the winter, however Maine winters can be a little tough! The surrounding water gets very cold and unpredictable, so we tend to close up around Halloween.
The latest that I have been to the island was when I was 12, when we came out for Thanksgiving. My mother’s hands were so cold that she just reached into the oven and took the turkey out with no potholders, and it wasn’t until later that see realized what she had done! My girlfriend and I always talk about the idea about coming out for the holidays to have a white Christmas on the island, but it has not happened yet. However, the newer home will make it much more enjoyable during cold weather.
Q: With such a popular island rental, you must have collected some interesting stories over the years! Are there any you’d like to share?
A.J. We had a wonderful family out last year, actually our last renters of the season. They had a fantastic imagination and let their children run wild with the thought of a buried treasure on the island. One day the mother asked me to hoist a pirate flag up the flag pole for their return from Bar Harbor, and we had great fun telling a story that Captain Jack had been here and had forbidden us to tell where the buried treasure was located. Of course, the family had already buried a treasure full of trinkets for the children to find. Later on that day the children came running up to our quarters and showed us all the wonderful pirate booty.
Another little story is from our very first clients, who came to the island for their 25th wedding anniversary. For the big night out their whole party dressed elaborately as 30’s style mobsters and flappers. That was a great time, when we sent them on their way into Bar Harbor for the evening, we had a lot of surprised people coming down to the boat asking what was going on!
- Annual Private Island Charity Auction
- Buying Private Islands in Exotic Thailand
- Growing Up in Paradise- An Interview with Teva Victor
- Letter from the Editor: Tony Robbins
- The World’s Best Job – Private Island Caretaker
- Live the Dream With Your Own Tropical Island Resort
- Segway Inventor Dean Kamen’s Private Island
- Do You Have what it Takes to Own a Private Island?
- Creating a Private Island Paradise
- Singer Castle- A Lost Palace Rediscovered