For the second year running, I set off with kids to spend time at Old Orchard Beach in Maine. The kids had but one request, accommodations not “disgusting” and far from the beach like last year. This seemed an easy enough request but was a bit more challenging than I expected.
Why? Most hotels and motels at Old Orchard Beach are dated. Many have suffered the visits of a clientele less interested in quality accommodation than a place to party between beach visits. While a few innovators have upgraded their facilities, most have not.
Here’s how I found a clean and well-situated hotel for our beach excursion.
Hotel/motel websites and area tourist websites describe lodgings as near the beach that are actually quite a distance away and require travel by car. I pulled up close-in views on Google maps of every hotel I considered renting to insure it was actually on the beach and in easy walking distance of the boardwalk.
Close, Not Too Close
Being in the thick of the activity may sound appealing, but at Old Orchard Beach, the beach quality is actually superior a mile or so away from the boardwalk. The sands are whiter and less grainy and the crowds are thinner. The only drawback is the lack of a lifeguard; families with young kids may prefer the life-guarded boardwalk beach despite its comparative deficiencies.
Trip Advisor proved an invaluable aid. I used this resource extensively, reading recent reviews by visitors to any Old Orchard Beach hotel or motel I considered booking. Hotels consistently rated filthy, in need of repair, or under incompetent management got crossed off my list. What surprised me with Old Orchard Beach is visitors panned most of the hotels and motels I searched. The most common complaints seemed to be rooms dirty or in poor repair.
Hotel websites proved essential, yet standing alone insufficient, in finding a clean, well-situated beach hotel. They helped pinpoint address, room configuration, policies, and availability. I looked for any indications of recent management changes or upgrades that might counter past complaints recorded on Trip Advisor. I did not rely on hotel websites directly for determining room quality. Did you ever see a hotel or motel website depicting decrepit or filthy conditions? Didn’t think so! And many websites address beach access in vague terms, leaving the reader unsure whether the rooms overlook sandy shores or paved roadways.
To get the best price, I compared information on hotel booking websites and direct hotel websites. No one option necessarily offered the best prices across the board; many choice properties weren’t even listed on booking websites.
The lodging we ultimately selected was clean and perfectly located.