When George and Susan Craig saw a for-rent ad in the New York Post featuring an idyllic island off the southern coast of Maine, they decided to give Fisherman Island and its seven-bedroom stone house a try. George, a bond trader, Susan, a former attorney, and their three children fell in love with all 68 acres of the private retreat -- from the richly appointed home to a 300-year-old cottage thought to be one of the oldest still-standing structures in Maine to the patches of wild berries waiting to be picked. Two years later, in 1997, the Craigs bought the island for just over $2 million from a businessman who had restored the home and island a few years earlier, after it had long been used as a religious retreat.
The family treks to Fisherman Island from southern Connecticut two or three times a year, staying up to two weeks at a time. But most of the year you can rent it through Hamburg, Germany-based Vladi Private Islands (vladi-private-islands.de; Tel. 49 40 33 89 89) -- just be sure to book early for prime summer slots. For $19,200 a week, you and up to nine guests get use of the entire island. In addition to the 5,000-plus-square-foot main house, the property features a heated saltwater pool, a sauna, and deck hammocks. A chef is on hand to prepare all your meals (he'll contact you before you arrive to cull a list of your favorite foods). There's full maid service, and your own personal boat captain stands ready to take you fishing or ferry you to the picturesque town of Boothbay Harbor on one of the island's three boats -- including a 34-foot cabin cruiser. Since even in summer, temperatures can dip into the 50s, you can light two massive stone fireplaces in the 60-foot-long great room (complete with pool table, several couches, and a foosball table). From every window, you'll have water views.
Fisherman Island appeals to families -- often extended families -- who return year after year. But the quiet island isn't for everyone, says Susan Craig. If you're looking for spa treatments or constant entertainment, you might not like the low-key environment. "This is a sweatshirt-and-cutoffs kind of place, a get-a-bucket-and-walk-around-for-two-hours-picking-berries-or-finding-seaglass-with-your-kids kind of place," she says. If that's your scene, you will probably agree with Susan Craig: "When I'm here," she says, "I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world."
By Jennifer Merritt