Category: About

The Innkeepers

Chris and Tracey met in 1995, while at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Their combined background, previous to innkeeping, included work in restaurants in Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and Michigan.

After concluding studies at the “C.I.A.”, Chris and Tracey (with new addition, daughter Mackenzie) settled in Ogunquit, Maine, a seaside resort village near the New Hampshire border. Together they operated a 16-room inn, with conference center and set of retail shops, for four years, with the long-term goal of owning an inn of their own.

In 2001, the Andersons purchased Wings Hill Inn, located in Belgrade Lakes, Maine. Since the purchase, renovations, updates and additions (including son Griffin, circa 2004) have taken place here at the inn.

Accolades, reviews, articles and notable mentions include Yankee Magazine’s Editor’s Choice List for 2005, DownEast Magazine, the Portland Press Herald, Travel Golf Maine, Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel, Road & Travel Magazine, and Summertime in the Belgrades.


As best we can tell, the main house (now the southern half of the inn) was built sometime right around 1800. The northern half of the inn was originally a barn on the property, but was probably originally sited a bit further from the house itself. It appears to have been moved at some point, and then connected to the house by the kitchen.

The home was owned from the 1940’s through the 1970’s by a gentleman named Edmund Hill. A World War II pilot, Edmund “Wings” Hill (as was his fly name) is said to have been among the first to enter in the raid on Hitler’s bunker. As a result, Major General Hill (his rank at his retirement from the Air Force), owned many Third Reich and military artifacts, housed here until his death in the 1973 and now displayed at the Smithsonian Museum.

General Hill was a well-known figure in the area, and was, as many of the older residents have told us, quite a character. In addition to a “secret room” storing the World War II memorabilia, the house had a system of security cameras, and still houses a beautiful, antique, hand painted black iron safe (unfortunately empty!) built discreetly into a stairwell. According to one gentleman who identified himself as a former military official who had aided in the artifacts transfer to the Smithsonian, there was even an underground bunker on the grounds!

The General owned quite a bit of property in the area, including a lot atop a rise just to the west of Long Pond. This particular spot afforded a spectacular panorama of the village and surrounding lakes, as well as a bumper crop each year of tiny, sweet wild Maine blueberries. General Hill donated this property for public use, and it is now the well-known scenic overlook known as “Blueberry Hill”.

General Hill made a number of improvements to the property that can still be enjoyed today. For example, it was he who finished the interior of the barn, adding the fieldstone fireplace, shiplap paneling, and oak floors. This space, which the General renovated for his second wife, Millie (also known as Midge), who loved to entertain company, is currently the Great Room of the inn. (Millie, often remembered by locals as “quite the proper lady, in white gloves”, kept a grand piano tucked in the small windowed nook in what is now the front dining room.) Around the same time period (in the 1950’s), General Hill also built the outdoor barbeque, on the front lawn, and the stone patio at the entrance. In an agreement with the town, the General granted as a right of way the section of land known today as “Dry Point Drive”, which allows access to the camps, cottages and homes behind the inn on Great Pond. In return, the town ceded a section of land, now part of the front yard, which had been part of “old” Route 27 — originally much closer to the house itself. And, according to legend, the row of cedar trees at the north edge of the property was planted by General Hill, as well — in response to a property dispute with a neighbor.

The General lived here until his death in the 1970’s. Since that time, the house changed hands three times residentially, and was purchased in 1988 and converted to an inn. Additional bedrooms, private baths, and owners’ quarters were added, and “Wings Hill Bed & Breakfast” — named after the property’s most famous owner — opened for business in 1989. The proprietor enlisted local decorators and craft hobbyists on the project, and a good deal of the hand-stenciling done at this time can still be seen in the guestrooms and common areas.

We (current owners Christopher and Tracey Anderson) first visited Wings Hill in October 2000, and fell in love with the inn before even entering — the lake, the lawn, the porch, and of course the gorgeous fall scenery did us “inn”. It felt like home when we walked in the door, and some of the magnificent pieces that we found, like the 7″ inch thick illustrated Bible from the late 1800’s and the antique wooden cigar mold, added such wonderful charm and character. In addition, the location seemed perfect — just at the end of this picturesque village, and set right between the two lakes. So close to the water, in fact, that at night you can hear the loons call, and the rush of the dam. And the proximity to Augusta and Waterville and to local colleges; the magnificent new golf course; the many children’s summer camps; and the fabulous hiking, boating, fishing, and winter sports just outside the front door made it seem like a sure winner.

Much redecorating, renovating and even some construction had to be done between our purchase date, in January of 2001, and our opening that May. The antique beds were lovely, but were the old-fashioned 3/4 size — smaller even than a double bed — and had to be replaced; as did the well-worn inventory of linens, china, et cetera. All the guest rooms and baths were slated for extensive updating and redecorating; our goal was to make the inn a place that welcomed guests, and made them feel utterly relaxed and comfortable. The most ambitious project was adding a hallway to the exterior wall of the building — up to that point, guests had had to drag themselves, and their luggage, up several steps, and into and through the kitchen, to get from one side of the house to the other. In fact, the only areas of the inn that weren’t scheduled for an overhaul were the dining areas and the parlor. As fate would have it, however, a burst pipe on the second floor damaged ceilings, walls and floors in the dining room and parlor, and their total renovation was added to the punch list as well.

We opened the doors on May 25, 2001, to a wonderful group of proud Colby College parents visiting for graduation, and immediately announced to each and every one of them that their stay would be 10% off. Every guest did have a room, and a bath, and a bed, but after 3 sleepless days, that evening we were still purchasing and installing such necessities as window shades and towels, and one bathroom had a line clean down the middle — half old wallpaper, and half new. As it turned out, our guests were so overwhelmed — and mostly absent — as a result of the many graduation festivities that Colby hosts, that they might not have even noticed.

And so began our adventure — one that continues even today. The inn is now open year-round for both lodging and dining, and there’s always a new project to undertake. From heating and water system upgrades, to the extensive front entrance renovation, to the addition of balconies to each second floor guestroom in 2005, there’s never much downtime. Each new endeavor brings surprises (until you tear open a wall, who would have guessed that a former owner made use of garden hose in place of the traditional tubing for a shower drain?), but also a sense of accomplishment. Since opening, two guest rooms have been converted to alternate use; one as additional dining space, and the other as a nursery … for our very own “special edition”. In the time that we’ve owned the inn, we’ve been fortunate enough to meet and host many wonderful guests; to have garnered some very gratifying praise from customers and print media alike; and to have done so while making a well-loved, historic home our very own.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s an “inn”?

Wings Hill is a small country inn. While terms are often used interchangeably, a “bed & breakfast” may be a bit homier; bathrooms may be shared, rather than private; and generally, meals other than breakfast are not available onsite. In some instances, common area space may be shared by guests and innkeepers alike.

A hotel is typically quite a bit larger, and as such offers more options … like fitness rooms, spas, banquet halls, room service, valets, elevators, and honor bars. Because of its size, however, personalized attention is not possible, there are often many “nickel and dime” charges associated with your stay.

Why stay at an inn?

We provide a more intimate lodging experience. The owner/innkeeper will personally greet you, and each guestroom is unique decorated, with lots of unexpected little touches. You will of course receive a key to the inn and to your room, so that you can come and go as you please, and feel secure about your belongings.

And while, as a small property (just 6 rooms), we don’t have a 24 hour front desk, or dedicated staff to park cars or shuttle luggage, the owners here are the innkeepers … and the chefs, and the “bellhops”, and the concierge. We live right here at the inn, and are able to give you more personal service than you’ll ever find at one of those large chains. Not to worry, though; we’ve got our very own quarters, and you’ll never need to pass us the remote for the TV in the Great Room.

Why choose Wings Hill Inn?

We’ve got many of the special touches you’d expect in a larger property; private bathrooms; amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, and lotion; hairdryers; irons; and wireless internet service. We also have a snack and hot beverage pantry available for your convenience, 24 hours a day. To maintain the charm (and quiet relaxation!) of a quaint, comfortable spot in the country, however, we don’t have televisions or telephones in the guestrooms. (They’re in the common areas for your use, instead.)

We’re hands-on owners, chefs and innkeepers. As such, we’re able to focus on the quality of service, atmosphere, and dining that makes a getaway worth the “getting”. Our experience both in innkeeping and in the culinary arts means that the place, the feel and the food are an escape from the everday. Otherwise, what’s the point in leaving home?! And should you have any concerns during your stay, you can rest assured that we’re available to address and remedy the situation to the best of our ability.

Why so many policies?

Due to our small size, and the intimate layout of the inn, our policies are important to provide all our guests the best possible service. We’ve implemented our policies over the course of a decade of innkeeping, and have found that, in order to run the inn well, we do need to adhere to them.

What’s the location like?

For those unfamiliar with the state, we’re located in southern central Maine.

The area is often called the Kennebec River Valley; guidebooks and directories sometimes refer to it as the the “Lake and Mountains” region as well. In Maine, Interstate 95 runs the coastline from the New Hampshire line to Portland, then cuts inland up to Houlton, at the Canadian border. Route 95 passes Belgrade Lakes to the east, cutting through both Augusta (to our south) and Waterville (to our north).

Belgrade Lakes itself is a small, pictureqsue village amid a chain of lakes, between Augusta (the state capital) and Waterville. There are of course stores and restaurants here in the village, but it doesn’t have the fevered, touristy atmosphere of the coast Summer is the busiest season, and while winter, spring and fall are beautiful with Nature’s changes, the area retains a welcome quiet … even a bit undiscovered! … feel. The local festivities still have that small town vibe; the parades and fireworks, the strawberry shortcake event and the baked bean suppers, the picnic tables at water’s edge at Penninsula Park, fishing off the bridge at the dam.

The region is popular for several reasons. The lakes and hills draw many visitors, offering a wide variety of excellent hiking, fishing and boating. The Kennebec and Sandy Rivers welcome rafters and paddlers looking for a bit more adventure. There are a number of golf courses as well, including top-rated Belgrade Lakes.

Additionally, several colleges (Colby, Thomas, and Kennebec Valley Tech) and schools (Kents Hill Prep) are conveniently located, and internationally attended children’s summer camps abound on the lakes.

The Augusta Civic Center is a well-known concert and event venue, as is the Waterville Opera House; several smaller summer theatres call the area home as well.

For ski fans, this area is a great “home base”; Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Saddleback, Titcomb and the Camden Snow Bowl are an easy drive. And for shoppers of any season, Hallowell is a quaint, artsy town of antiques, shops and restaurants.

Last but not least, Belgrade Lakes is centrally located for convenient jaunts to the coast, as well as to Portland and Bangor.

For more details, visit our “Local Attractions” and “Itinerary” pages.

Do I tip the staff?

Our housekeepers help with breakfast service as well, so you may get to know them, and we are often asked about gratuities. While it is never required or expected, many guests do choose to leave a token of thanks in the room upon departure. A tip can be added to your room charge for convenience, if you wish.

How can I stay “connected”?

While most guests find that their cell phone services works in the area, some are unable to get reception. We do have a guest phone (outgoing only line) in the Great Room for local, toll-free, credit card and collect calls. We have calling cards available for purchase as well, to be used for toll calls from the guest phone. Should anyone call for you during your stay, we are happy to deliver a message to your room. Messages are left discretely at the door, if you’ve stepped out.

The inn has wireless internet, with the strongest signal in the Great Room. A laptop computer, with wireless card, is needed for access. Laptop computers set up to dial into a toll-free or local number can be used in the Great Room as well, by connecting to the guest phone telephone jack. If you need to surf the internet without a computer, the Belgrade Library, approximately 1/2 mile south of the inn, offers public access. While we are happy to print boarding passes, directions and other information for you, for security reasons we are not able to allow guest access to the inn’s computer.

When is the restaurant open?

We’re open for dinner Thursday through Sunday year-round, and we add Wednesdays during July and August. We have two seatings, beginning at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Breakfast is served to overnight guests of the inn only, or for a private function. Luncheon is not served, except by advance arrangement for a business or social event.

Why are reservations required?

Due to our intimate size, seating is very limited. Additionally, all of our menu items are prepared fresh and from “scratch” on site, so our food preparation and staff scheduling are based on the number of reservations each day. For a summer reservation, a large group, or a holiday or event weekend, we recommend calling at least two weeks ahead. The rest of the year, one week ahead is usually sufficient.

Why is a credit card required to reserve?

Although it may seem an unusual request, we’re so small – just 16 seats – that last minute cancellations or “no shows” have a very damaging effect. A party of 4 is one quarter of our dining room; it’s like reserving for a party of 25 at a larger restaurant. As such, for parties of 4 or more, we require a credit card to reserve; for holiday and special events, a credit card guarantee is requested from all tables. There’s no charge on the card unless there’s a cancellation in the party, generally after 3 pm the day of the reservation. (For large parties and special events, a longer timeframe may apply.) That means that if there will be fewer diners in your group than planned, or your plans change altogether, you have right up to 3 pm that day (typically) to let us know and avoid a charge. That way, we may able to reach a guest our waiting list instead.

What’s included in the dinner price?

Prix fixe, in French, means “fixed price”. Our dinner format is five courses (appetizer, soup, salad, entrée and dessert); all five courses are included in the fixed price. We do have a la carte items as well (non-alcoholic beverages and optional starters), available for an additional cost, if you’d like. An 18% service charge, as gratuity, is added, and goes directly to your server, and 7% Maine sales tax is added to the bill as well.

Five courses seems like a lot of food!

We portion each course appropriately, so that you can enjoy the entire dinner experience without feeling uncomfortably full. On select Thursdays, November through April, however, we do have three course “Bistro Night”, for those who prefer a lighter meal, less formal evening, or less expensive outing.

What happened to the three course option?

The three course option previously offered on Thursdays and Sundays, November through April, has been discontinued. We found that offering both three- and five-course dinners simultaneously did not promote a smooth, enjoyable dinner flow. A guest choosing three courses, for example, spent a good part of the evening watching his or her “five course companion” eating alone. Both the feedback we received to this effect and the fact that the vast majority of our guests chose the five course dinner over the three course option were deciding factors. Instead, we’ve added the off-season “Bistro Night” series.

What’s the menu like?

Our menu items themselves change weekly, but our format stays the same. We start out with a house appetizer, then there are two soups to choose from, then two salads, four entrees and three desserts. In terms of the entrees, we always have a vegetarian option and a seafood option.

It’s hard to categorize our food. There are influences of French, Southwestern, Italian, and Spanish cuisine, but probably the best description would be “contemporary American”. Our belief is that products should be always fresh and high quality; grown or raised locally when possible; seasonally appropriate; well-matched flavor wise, cooked carefully using the method most suited to enhance its qualities; never overwhelmed by heavy breadings, sauces and seasonings, and attractively presented.

To get a better idea of the type of cuisine we serve, a sample menu is provided on our “Dinner” page.

What will be served the night I dine?

Because our selections are based on the ingredients we judge to be of the best quality, the most flavorful, and the freshest that week, we don’t set the menu until the first day of service. (Thursday of each week, Wednesday in July and August.) Unfortunately, because we have such limited seating, we are often fully booked before the menu is set — especially during the summer. If you don’t feel comfortable reserving a table without knowing the menu, or you’d just like to keep up with what we’re serving, please ask to be added to the weekly menu email list. While cooking the food often takes up much of our time, we’ll do our best to post the week’s menu as soon as possible after it’s set.

What about dietary restrictions?

We ask about food allergies at the time of booking, because it’s important to us that all our guests are able to enjoy the evening. With advance notice, we’re usually able to plan the week’s menu to assure that there’s an appropriate choice for everyone. (It is important to note, however, that even with careful planning on our part, we’re not able to guarantee that our kitchen is free of all traces of allergens.) Please be sure to tell us, when reserving, about any allergies that may concern your party, and don’t hesitate to remind your server that evening as well.

In terms of last-minute substitutions and menu changes, we do our best to accommodate when possible, but please keep in mind that it may take a bit longer, cost a bit more, and may not be as well-suited in terms of flavor combinations.

Does the inn have a wine list, or full bar?

Wings Hill currently does not have a liquor license. You are welcome to bring your own libations’ we’re happy to provide ice, stemware and other amenities. There is no corkage charge. We do have mixers available from our beverage selection if you’d like to bring along liquor.

Day’s Store, just across from the inn, offers a selection of beer, wine, liquor and champagne. Off-season their hours are generally until 7 pm; during the summer, until 9 pm. You can call them at 495-2205 to check.

What size party can you accommodate?

While we’re often able to make arrangements for larger group functions, generally speaking, the largest group we can accommodate at a single table for a standard dinner reservation is eight. Our ability to host larger groups depends on the other reservations, both dining and lodging, for that evening.

Do you have a children’s menu?

Our dinners are approximately two hours long, and our menu and atmosphere generally do not meet the needs of young children. Unfortunately, we’re not able to provide special selections, portions or pricing for children; the charge for each guest at a table, regardless of age or amount consumed, is the full fixed price.

How is the dining room set up?

We have several dining areas that we use. Our main dining room has a table that accommodates up to eight guests, as well three smaller tables for groups of two to four each. We have a smaller, private dining room with three tables for four, and often use this space for small functions.

During the summer, we seat on our fully screened, lakeview wraparound porch as well. Our waitstaff prepares the dining room each evening based on the final configuration of that night’s reservations. As such, we’re happy to note any requests made at booking, but cannot always guarantee a particular table.

Is there a dress code?

Many of our guests do “dress” for dinner, but jacket and tie are never required. We do ask that guests not wear cut-off jeans or tank tops. While we’ve even had arrivals in tuxedos and prom gowns, the most common dress style is “business casual” … khakis or chinos and collared button-down or golf shirts.