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A Conservationist in the Form of an Environmentally-Sensitive Innkeeper
Little did Nancy Gray know that when, as a child, she
helped her parents, Beatrice "BB" and Rodney Dyer, operate
Birch Island Lodge, a sporting camp on Holeb Pond in Maine, she was
developing talents and values that would one day make her name synonymous
with New England hospitality, Yankee ingenuity, and ecologically sound
living. Those early experiences in the1940s of cutting ice for refrigeration,
heating water on the stove to run the gasoline-powered washing machines,
and keeping guests happy in a camp without electricity laid the groundwork
for her success today as the co-owner of the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport,
Maine and the Inn at Mystic, in Mystic, Connecticut.
Nancy grew up close to the environment and with a love of the out-of-doors,
enjoying hiking, fly fishing, and canoeing. Her father was a hunting
and fishing guide, as were her husband Richard Paul and sister Jody;
and those outdoor proclivities were passed on to Nancy's daughter Penny,
who is a long-distance sled dog racer, as well as a registered Maine
guide. Nancy's love of nature and the lessons she learned at her parents'
camp and during ten years on the Gloucester, Massachusetts Conservation
Commission are evident in the way she runs the Harraseeket Inn, an award-winning
country inn that combines luxury with environmental sensitivity.
In 1984 Nancy opened the Harraseeket Inn, which comprised two period
buildings dating from 1798 and 1854, and in 1989 they added a hotel.
The Inn's tastefully decorated 84 rooms and 9 extended-stay townhouses
are set on five beautifully landscaped acres. Guests at the Harraseeket
Inn not only have an authentic New England experience, but also contribute
to the cause of conservation. A member of the Green Hotel Association
which is committed to encouraging, promoting, and supporting ecological
consciousness in the hospitality industry, the Inn buys first from local
Maine farmers, fishermen foragers and regional suppliers to stock its
two restaurants with organically and naturally grown produce. Keeping
farmland open is paramount. "No farms, no food" is the thought
process. It recycles and composts everything. All proteins are saved
for the forty dogs her daughter keeps for long distance sled dog races.
That same daughter writes Harlequin Romances under the name Nardia Nichols
to pay the vet bills. The Inn has led the way for other inns in the
region to donate their used cooking fat to local organic farmers, which
they burn for heat in their greenhouses during the winter months. It
uses bio diesel fuel for their Safari transportation runs which can
be anything from airport transportation, bird watching, antiquing, boat
trips on the Kennebec River or a trip to the sea plane dock for a flight
to East Grand Lake for some serious trout fishing.
Nancy's passion for the environment is not confined to the operations
of the Inn. She has spent a lifetime supporting land preservation, water
quality, and animal protection issues, serving on several local and
statewide commissions and working "in the trenches." A case
in point - Nancy abhorred the practice of bear baiting in Maine, so
she proceeded to do something about it. With the hope of effecting legislation
that would abolish the practice, she held the Harraseeket Inn Bear Ball.
Inviting politicians and animal rights supporters, she managed to raise
awareness of the issue, as well as significant money for the cause.
Despite her best efforts, she lost the battle.
Nancy Gray has not only a conscience, but also the courage to make things
happen and the willingness to try again. She is a past President of
New England Inn Keepers Association and Maine Innkeepers Association,
a past Chairman of the Resort Committee of the American Hotel and Lodging
Association, and now serves on its Executive Board. Nancy has tried
to raise the environmental consciousness of these organizations so that
more land and waters might be conserved for generations to come. Her
entire family works to keep Maine, Maine.
Chip Gray, one of her three sons and the Inn General Manager, has been
quoted as attributing his mother's success to the following recipe:
"A quart of Pure Horsepower, two cups of Incorruptibility, a dollop
of Moral Certitude, the brand that's marked with Confidence and the
Willpower Never Ever to Back Down No Matter What. That's for starters.
Mix that carefully with a pound of Common Sense and Pragmatism, a generous
handful of Good Humor, a lifetime of Hard Work, and a liberal dash of
Visionary Wisdom and you will begin to see the picture. Of course that
wouldn't get you to the Mischief and the Pure Zest for Life."
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