Here's how to vacation like a president:
The Obamas stayed two nights at the Bar Harbor (Maine) Regency Holiday Inn (also called the Holiday Inn Sunspree Bar Harbor ). The fourth-floor Vanderbilt and Dupont suites have kitchens and elaborate Queen Anne furnishings. They go for $300 to $500 a night, depending on the season and bookings, General Manager Jun Park said. You can replicate the experience by calling to book a suite — or just book a regular ocean-view room as we did (summer rates are $259 a night, but sometimes are discounted to $219).
The downside of this hotel is that most balconies — even in the suite the Obamas stayed in — look right down on roaring rooftop air conditioners that take away from the stunning views of the ocean and pool. The hotel halls also have a pronounced musty smell. Before the Obamas arrived at the hotel, locals said they saw carpenters in the building. Locals also said they heard that furnishings were being upgraded hastily and nicer paintings were being brought in to hang on the walls of the suite. Hotel guests said the Obama party occupied the third and fourth floors of the hotel, although hotel officials would not discuss those details.
The Holiday Inn at 123 Eden gets three diamonds from AAA, three stars from Expedia.com, and is ranked 29th among Bar Harbor hotels on TripAdvisor.com, a hotel review site. The phone number to the hotel is 207-288-9723.
Park, the hotel's general manager, said there has been no uptick in calls as a result of the Obamas' visit.
Acadia National Park
The Obamas visited Cadillac Mountain, climbed the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, hiked near Southwest Harbor and rode bikes at Witch Hole Pond. You can do all these things except climb the lighthouse, which is a Coast Guard officer residence. Vehicle admission to the national park is $20. One thing the Obamas didn't do was swim in the icy Atlantic off Sand Beach, a must-do for many visitors.
The Obamas briefly toured Frenchman Bay in a non-commercial National Park Services boat. You can improve upon that experience by taking a two-hour coastal sightseeing cruise from one of the many boat tours offered in Bar Harbor (about $27). See seals, eagles, mansions. Got more time? Do a whale watch tour, which lasts about 4 hours.
The Obama repertoire is easy to replicate. At Stewman's Downtown, the adults had lobster ($28) and the girls had shrimp baskets ($21). At Havana, the president had lobster again ($29). At the Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream shop, the president ordered coconut ($3.75). The first family also dined at the Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor. These prices might sound high, but they're average for the island.
This is where it's good to be president. He had a small Air Force One flight into the Bar Harbor-Trenton Airport. Then he had a motorcade. You'll probably have to make do with flying into Bangor, renting a car and driving 1 1/2 hours to Bar Harbor.