March 13, 2020
In any corporate event, the experience matters just as much as the work and relaxation to be done. And nowhere in Maine offers an ambiance quite like Sky Lodge.
Sky Lodge is a rustic getaway that invokes the call of the wild. Tucked in Moose River Valley, it encompasses over 150 acres. The outdoor oasis welcomes groups to escape the office, experience unforgettable adventures and reconnect with nature.
Sky Lodge is owned and operated by Unity College, a higher education institution with a unique emphasis on environmental stewardship. The resort is two hours from the main college campus and 25 miles from the Canadian border.
Groups seeking a Western retreat experience—without the often-high price tag—can satisfy both desires at Sky Lodge. Unity College President Melik Khoury says, “If you look at pricing of similar places in Wyoming and Montana, for example, we are about half the price.”
Khoury says that Sky Lodge enhances Unity College’s revenue stream as a full-service resort, in addition to being woven into the student curriculum. It’s just one example of how higher education organizations are using their venues in a more entrepreneurial way.
“We use Sky Lodge for educational endeavors, like our sustainable business and eco-tourism programs, freshman experiences and community-based learning,” Khoury said. “It’s part of the college, and students have access to it. But it also further enhances the revenue stream. It’s a dual operating system.”
This isn’t uncommon anymore—various higher education organizations are creating revenue in similar fashions: Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They, for example, own The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, which is a luxury hotel open to the public and operated by students in its hospitality program.
Similarly, Unity College students will have a hand in the operations of Sky Lodge.
“We see Sky Lodge as a significant opportunity for all students in all majors, but especially those in our newest major, Sustainable Business Enterprise. Students will not only study how to run a business, but they will actually get to do it,” explained Khoury in a release in 2018 following the donation of Sky Lodge to Unity College.
Outdoor enthusiasts will revel in the expanse of offerings at Sky Lodge. The property is home to museums and trails for hiking, skiing and a plethora of outdoor activities.
“We do snowmobiling, white-water rafting and hiking,” Khoury said, naming off just a few of the unique teambuilding options available on the property. “We have an adventure program so we can teach cross-country skiing and fly-fishing.”
Additionally, Sky Lodge is near to mountain hiking trails, golf courses and Moxie Falls—one of the highest falls in New England. The staff can help arrange activities like hunting, guided hikes, horseback riding and scenic float plane excursions with local partners.
For attendees that would rather relax with co-workers over a meal, Sky Lodge opened its restaurant—The Mountain View Dining Room—in January 2020. The venue is open for dinner Thursday-Saturday and for brunch on the weekends.
The Bar & Lounge is open until 9 p.m. Thursday-Sunday as well. Parties of up to 25 people can reserve the private dining room, and banquet and catering services can be arranged.
Sky Lodge includes a Prohibition-era former huntsman and fishing cabin, as well as a 7,500-square-foot lodge.
The entire property can host 112 people in the summer and 80 people during fall, winter and spring. For larger groups, Khoury says Sky Lodge can partner with other lodging providers in the area.
For meetings groups, the property features four conference space options. The following capacities are quoted for board room style:
Additionally, Khoury pointed to a unique space on the property. “There’s an old runway that’s been transformed into a beautiful green space.” He added that it can be used for outdoor adventure and teambuilding programs, tented events and wedding ceremonies.
For overnight groups, up to 28 guests can comfortably stay at the lodge. Private groups of eight or more can reserve the lodge. There are a variety of accommodations on the property to choose from:
Sky Lodge is also about 20-minute drive from the Canadian border, located in the town of Moose River, Maine. The resort is 54 miles from the main Unity College campus—a two-hour drive.
Bangor International Airport is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive. Portland and New Gloucester, Maine, are also drivable, roughly three hours away.
Khoury recommends a three-month advance notice for corporate groups or large bookings of more than 20 people. Weddings should book at least one year out.
High season varies widely across the different types of groups. Khoury notes that after Sky Lodge’s first year open to corporate groups under Unity College, intrigue has already doubled.
Corporate groups can book the lodge year-round. Availability of some teambuilding activities is weather dependent, such as snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.
Sky Lodge was gifted to Unity College in 2017, and officially took over the property July 1, 2018. The multimillion-dollar gift came from the Couri Foundation, and is one of the largest in Unity College’s history.
Prior to its donation, Sky Lodge was owned and operated by Elaine and John Couri of the Couri Foundation. The couple established the foundation in 1988 and used Sky Lodge for programs to help deserving children get connected to nature, programs for seniors, seminars for graduate students and other services.
Sky Lodge’s story dates to the early 20th century though, built in 1929 as a sporting getaway for a New York executive, and then purchased and renamed “Sky Lodge” by two former World War II airmen in the 1940s.
The main lodge has been restored over the past decade to its original state and giving it the makings for memorable corporate and executive retreats. This while still maintaining its outdoor sporting legacy that has kept it beloved by adventurists through the years.
For New England-based groups looking for a corporate retreat in some of Maine’s most expansive inland wilderness—without sacrificing meetings amenities—Sky Lodge is worth a look.
Connect with Unity College’s Sky Lodge: