– By HEATHER BURKE

Special to Maine Sunday Telegram

Martha Stewart is no Mainer. She doesn’t endure mud season or January’s deep freeze, and I doubt she shops at Marden’s, but she does savor the best of Maine by vacationing on Mount Desert Island. You don’t need Martha Stewart’s mega wealth, or Rockefeller relatives, to enjoy the very best of Bar Harbor.

For the first time in the history of Mount Desert Island, the exclusive Bar Harbor Club, built by J.P. Morgan in 1930 for his wealthy friends, socialites and celebs, is available to guests staying at the four-diamond Harborside Hotel.

Read a book by the gorgeous seaside pool on deep cushioned chaises, play tennis on the clay courts, and sip cocktails at the Mahogany Wine Bar in the sophisticated Pool House while the attentive Bar Harbor Club staff sees to your every whim.

For added amusement, watch the tourists walk across the sand bar during low tide to Bar Island, the harbor’s namesake, and see if any of them neglect to get back (or worse leave their car on the sand bar) as the tide returns with 11 feet of sea water.

It’s hard to fathom that the impressive, iconic Bar Harbor Club closed in 1980 due to waning membership. Tom Walsh of Ocean Properties saw the potential, bought the Club in 2000 and restored it to its previous grandeur while enhancing the spectacular oceanfront setting with an elegant pool house, a swank spa, fitness facilities, and an upgraded oversize ocean-front pool and hot tub encircled in granite.

The best things in life aren’t free (even Martha Stewart would agree), and Harborside Hotel guests do pay a $25 resort club fee for the Bar Harbor Club on top of the room rate, which start at $149 per night on a fall special. The resort club fee also includes WiFi, valet parking, and turndown service in the hotel, plus a $15 discount on boat tours with Bar Harbor Whale Company on your choice of whale, puffin or lighthouse boat tours.

Back in Bar Harbor’s heyday, 1880-1930s, socialites from the cities would flock to Acadia. They came for clean air, ocean breezes, to tour the island.

A major attraction was the new National Park, originally established as Lafayette National Park in 1919, renamed Acadia in 1929. Most of all, they came to play and party. Bar Harbor was anything but dry during prohibition as millionaires and billionaires, J.P. Morgan, the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Tiffany and Pulitzers, threw big bashes in their lavish “summer cottages” and at The Club.

Ironically, when cars brought tourists to Bar Harbor in the 1940s, the elite Fords and Rockefellers moved farther out on the island to Seal Harbor, away from the riffraff.

Martha Stewart now owns Edsel Ford’s 1925 mansion. It is in this 35,000-square foot “Skylands,” with a pink granite driveway that Martha discovered historic maps of Maine and Mount Desert Island, which prompted her chronological collection, “Charting a Story: Martha Stewart’s Maine Map Collection.” Clearly this compilation of Maine maps shows Stewart’s passion for Maine and her impeccable organizational skills; her maps were on display at Bar Harbor’s College of the Atlantic earlier this summer.

You can map out your own Acadia adventure on more than 45 miles of carriage roads, designed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and built from 1913 to 1940, perfect for walking and biking through the park this fall. Enjoy a sail around Frenchman’s Bay or a boat trip to view five lighthouses, the gorgeous granite shores and mountains of Acadia. Or just luxuriate at the Bar Harbor Club with a cocktail. In the late afternoon when the cruise ships head out to sea, you can stroll into town for that lobster roll or Bah Habah T-shirt, then ease back into your posh resort setting and Harborside room.

In Sherman’s Guide to Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island of 1892, W.H. Sherman wrote, “it will cost you from $250 per season, according to the style of the house you wish to live in. The cottages let at still higher figures if you wish to go for style. What we wish to impress upon people is that they can live as cheaply and as well at Bar Harbor as they can anywhere!”

Well, those $250 rates are nightly now at the Harborside, not for the season, but that includes a spa credit and breakfast for two. The Harborside Hotel is very stylish, and with membership at Bar Harbor Club, you will be hobnobbing like Martha the homemaker maven, rolling like a rock star, or in this case — a Rockefeller.

Heather Burke is a freelance travel writer from Kennebunk.