One of the best parts about staying at an inn is the opportunity to meet interesting people. Some like chatting with guests and from time to time guests have become very good friends after meeting at one of the Distinctive Inns of New England. Yet what we hear over and over again from those who stay at each of the 11 DINE member inns, it’s the innkeepers that guests really enjoy getting to know.
Visit a hotel or resort, and it’s not likely you will have the opportunity to get to know the owner or even the manager. Enjoy a romantic New England getaway at any of the 11 DINE inns, and you are bound to not only meet the owners/innkeepers but more than likely they will help you plan your activities or offer tips on the best places to shop or dine.
We’re out to demonstrate what’s distinctive about DINE inns. In doing so, we’re hoping to give you some insight into those that own and operate the member inns. This is the first of eleven MEET THE INNKEEPERS columns we’ll share with you. Introducing, Claudio and Roberta Latanza, owners and innkeepers of the Camden Maine Stay Inn.
Anyone who’s talked to Claudio and Roberta quickly ascertains that they were not born in the United States but came to their little corner of Camden, Maine from Italy. Stay at the inn and you’ll not only hear wonderful stories about their homeland, but you’ll share in their collections of artwork and artifacts from throughout Europe.
Roberta was born and raised in Milan, Italy. Claudio was born in Taranto but moved to Rome as a child was raised there. Roberta graduated from the German school in Milan while Claudio went to school in Rome. They met on a blind date over pizza in Rome after a mutual friend set them up. It was love at first sight! They were married in 1995 and began traveling to the United States each time they could find time away from their busy careers.
Roberta’s career started in the fashion industry then she eventually became an insurance broker and finally moved into real estate before coming to the United States to become an innkeeper. Claudio spent a stint breeding trotting horses which was very successful. After selling that business he started a publishing company which published, among other things, the Italian Hotel Directory. This was his first foray into the world of hotel and inn management. The publishing business was sold after moving to the U.S. with Roberta to pursue the mutual dream of owning an inn.
With a mutual love of exploring the world together, Claudio and Roberta traveled extensively to the U.S. for many years, always staying at inns and B&Bs. “ We like to say that we know America better than most of the Americans,” says Claudio. They talked to many innkeepers, learned more and more about the job and eventually decided to “jump over the ocean, experience a new country and a new job. And we’re so happy we did it!” explain both Claudio and Roberta together.
They came to Midcoast Maine to visit another inn on the market. “It looked wonderful on the website, but when we came here we realized that the reality was different. It needed a lot of work,” said Claudio. “While travelling back to Boston to catch the plane back to Italy we noticed the Maine Stay Inn and we appreciated the beauty of the house. Roberta wrote down the name and, when in Rome, we emailed our broker asking for news about this inn and we learned it was quietly on the market”, continued Claudio. The rest is history. Claudio and Roberta purchased the Camden Maine Stay Inn in December 2008. Then came the “fun” part…working through all the immigration paperwork to establish residency.
The life of an innkeeper is nearly 24/7, but when they have a little free time Claudio and Roberta love hiking in the hills surrounding Camden. Be sure to pick their brains for the best hiking trails and photo ops, because they’ll have some great secret spots for you. Somewhat of an “exercise nut”, Roberta loves to work out and enjoys taking care of the gardening along with all the decorating aspects of innkeeping. Claudio loves watching soccer, especially Italian matches, and is quite a photographer too. Both Claudio and Roberta will tell you they love meeting guests from all over the world who come to stay at Camden Maine Stay. During the slower seasons, you’ll find them continuing their travels throughout the U.S. or traveling back to Italy to see friends and family, when they can get away.
When asked to share a favorite story about innkeeping, Claudio’s answer offered great insight into the kind of spirit of hospitality that makes he and Roberta distinctive innkeepers. Here’s a story you simply wouldn’t find at a nearby hotel or resort. When the blizzard called Nemo hit Midcoast Maine with vengeance this year, all but one Camden Maine Stay guest cancelled. The next morning, the couple that that made it to the inn awoke to nearly waist-deep snow and a buried car. All restaurants and shops on Maine’s Midcoast were closed. Roberta and Claudio invited the couple into their home and created a wonderful lunch of bruschetta and pasta of Italian fame. The couple was overwhelmed with their generosity and it meant a lot to Roberta and Claudio to be able to help them. It’s not surprising that such an act of generosity would stand out in their memory as such an enjoyable day.
If you’re looking for a New England distinctive inn on the Coast of Maine, the Camden Maine Stay and Claudio and Roberta Latanza top the list. For more information and online booking, visit www.camdenmainestay.com.