Story published in The Ellsworth American, 1/9/2015
GOULDSBORO — The new owners of Elsa’s Inn in the village of Prospect Harbor were looking for a stepping stone to retirement when they bought the six-bedroom bed and breakfast.
What Cherrie and Scott Markwood found is a business that builds friends quickly and places them firmly in the heart of their Downeast community.
And life in the slow lane is just what they were seeking.
“Coming from northern New Jersey and working in Manhattan, we are used to a faster pace,” he said. “But that is part of the change we were seeking. We came here to be ‘here,’ so we are engaged in doing things within the community.”
The Markwoods moved to Maine from Montville, N.J., after buying the inn from Jeff and Cindy Alley of Winter Harbor.
The Alleys had remodeled the former family homestead top to bottom. Each bedroom has a private bath and view of Prospect Harbor with its active fishing community.
Scott retired from Consolidated Edison, and before that, Honeywell, where he was an expert on energy efficiency and renewable energy. Cherrie continues to telecommute as a technical writer for ADP.
Their daughter, Sarah, is a recent graduate of Maine Maritime Academy in Castine. She majored in Marine Biology and is finishing up her Small Vessel Operations License.
Scott is not a newcomer to the area. His family has owned a cottage in Trenton off the Bayside Road for multiple generations and he, Cherrie and Sarah continue to spend summers there.
The move from the corporate world to owning and operating an inn hatched slowly over the years.
Scott traveled frequently with Honeywell and Consolidated Edison and preferred staying at inns, often returning to the same bed and breakfasts in his frequent trips to the Midwest.
“I would fly into visit clients and operational offices once a month,” he said. “The bed and breakfasts were easy and comfortable.”
The couple decided they wanted a business in their next stage of life that was more personable and an inn seemed to meet all the requirements.
Scott and Cherrie had been looking for a bed and breakfast for more than a year when they discovered Elsa’s.
The plan is for Scott to operate the inn while Cherrie works from home.
“This winter, as you drive by Elsa’s, you may see her at her desk in the window,” Scott said. “ADP’s willingness to allow Cherrie to work from home allowed us to make this move.”
They say many of their guests are regulars, returning each year or more frequently to visit family or to watch over construction of a home.
The Markwoods found out quickly that newcomers are often encouraged to join local groups and to pitch in as volunteers.
Scott was swiftly recruited by the Schoodic Chamber of Commerce to head up marketing.
He comes on board as the chamber is wrestling with the opportunities and challenges created by the investment of $40 million to establish a 94-site campground in Acadia National Park on the peninsula along with new bicycle paths and hiking trails.
“The challenge in this area,” said Scott, “is to manage growth in a way everyone can appreciate. Thirty to forty years ago, Mount Desert Island was a lot like it is here now. We love Bar Harbor but, we don’t want to be Bar Harbor.”
The Markwoods also have observed that the real estate market appears to be percolating. They housed six couples at one point in their first season who were looking for real estate in the area or overseeing construction of a new home.
“Many people feel they are now priced out or crowded out of Mount Desert Island,” Scott said.
The Markwoods plan is to stay at their cottage in Trenton in the summer and then move to Elsa’s in the winter when business is much slower.
Scott said he wouldn’t mind finding something to keep him occupied through the winter.
“I would love to do some consulting or support work in energy efficiency, renewable energy, or using my Six Sigma background to help companies product, process and client relations improvement” he said.