The Working Waterfront

Swan’s Island motel has new owners

Jennifer Helman, Dale Joyce purchase Harbor Watch Inn

Tom Groening
Posted 2018-05-21
Last Modified 2018-05-21

If you visit Swan’s Island for a weekend getaway, don’t expect much nightlife. Unless, that is, your idea of night life is a peaceful early evening stroll down a quiet road to the shore, or a short drive to the lighthouse to watch the sunset.

For one thing, the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited by local ordinance, and for another, there are no restaurants or other evening-oriented businesses on the island.

But the low-key, family oriented activities described above—as well as visits to the island’s Fine Sand Beach—are comfortably enjoyed from a stay at the Harbor Watch Inn, an old-fashioned but contemporarily appointed motel.

The inn was purchased about a year ago by Jennifer Helman, 47, and Dale Joyce, 57. The engaged couple purchased the motel from Colleen Hyland.

Helman hails from western Pennsylvania, and Joyce has generational ties to the island. He remembers spending summers helping his grandfather Charlie lobster, and the family line can be traced to the island’s 17th century settlers.

Helman and Joyce met in North Carolina where she had been in the hotel and event marketing field and he had been a computer programmer.

“It wasn’t something we set out to do,” Helman said of the purchase, but both are embracing island life.

The inn was well maintained, she said, but they made some upgrades of furniture and the addition of amenities like microwaves and coffeemakers with coffee and creamer.

“People just kind of expect that now,” Helman said.

An updated website also allows secure reservations to be made.

In addition to the four rooms—each large, with two beds, and two with kitchens—the couple has recently made the top-floor apartment available as a rental suite.

The motel is open year-round, and is often booked by contractors working on the island, allowing them to start earlier and quit later than they would by taking the ferry from Bass Harbor, she said.

Helman and Joyce enjoy a friendly relationship with the island’s other lodging establishment, Carter House bed and breakfast, with each referring customers to the other when booked.

In addition to running the lodging business, Joyce has established a photography studio (his photos are featured on page 12 of this issue).

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