Cyndi Robbins is part of the history of Poland Spring Resort

Poland Spring Resort has been a predominant part of Cyndi Robbins’ life for 40 years.

Robbins, proprietress of the Poland Spring Resort, was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her father, Bill Seivert, was a salesman who specialized in plastics. This occupation took the Seivert family from Chicago to New York, then back to Chicago via the south. Ultimately, he was hired by Pioneer Plastics in Auburn, Maine, where he stayed until his retirement. Her mother, Margaret, was an accountant whose job skills were easily transferable and in demand wherever they went. Having two professionals for parents had a significant impact on Robbins’ work ethic and helped her develop her talents as a businesswoman.

The Seivert family purchased a summer home on Middle Range Pond in Poland and when Robbins was 17 her parents encouraged her to seek her first job. In 1971, at the age of 17, she began working at the Poland Spring Inn. At that time, the Inn was owned by Saul Feldman, who was looking to sell it.

Robbins recalled the night of the Grand Opening in the summer of 1971. It was her first night as a waitress in the dining room at the Maine Inn, and “The Ink Spots” were hired to entertain the guests. Unfortunately, that first night was a disaster, and “some of my table left without paying.” Feldman wanted to fire her, but Herbie Spitzer, the head cook, shouldered the blame for the slow service “and convinced him to keep me on.” Shortly thereafter, Horace Burns leased the Maine Inn and Robbins worked for him.

At that time, the Inn was open year round and the Motor Court Inn on Rt. 26 wasn’t just a motel. “There were locker rooms and a full restaurant upstairs.” Downstairs had a snack bar, a bar and a pro shop. Robbins became the short order cook at the Motor Inn.

When Mel Robbins took over the lease at the Maine Inn the following year, she “worked 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Motor Inn and Friday and Saturday nights as a waitress for Mel” in the big dining room, and in 1973, at the age of 18, she became the food and beverage manager of the Poland Spring Inn.

Mel Robbins had come to Poland Spring to make a land development on the site of the decaying inn, but ended up falling in love with the place and the history and decided to preserve it. As it turned out, he also fell in love with a young lady named Cyndi Seivert.

Cyndi and Mel were married on May 4, 1975, a year that turned out to be as bitter as it was sweet for the newlyweds. Although they leased the Maine Inn, Feldman retained control of the Poland Spring House, a 100-year-old grand hotel that stood on the property. On July 4, 1975, the Poland Spring House burned to the ground. Then, on the Friday before Labor Day weekend, Cyndi Robbins was diagnosed with melanoma, skin cancer. Today, she is cancer-free, although the scars of her treatment still linger.

Soon after they married, they began purchasing the various building that stood on the grounds of the Resort. In 1976, they “took over the golf course, with its six members” and by 1982, they had purchased the entire property and all of its buildings.

Robbins recalled, “In 1978 we found that keeping the Inn open in the winter didn’t make any sense.” During those five months off, Cyndi and Mel traveled. Together, they saw the world several times over and every year brought a new adventure. “Mel was a wonderful companion, friend and husband,” and they continued to travel together until Mel became too sick to leave his home in Poland Spring. “My greatest teacher was Mel Robbins.”

Mel Robbins passed away in November 2007. Since that time, Cyndi Robbins has “tried to follow in Mel’s footsteps,” but she is also making some big changes.

Several years ago she purchased the restaurant, docks and boat launch near the causeway on Rt. 26, at the bottom of the hill. Since then, “Cyndi’s Dockside” has flourished and has, according to Robbins, “been a very different experience, not at all like running the resort.” She has made significant improvements in the kitchen and has winterized the downstairs dining room, adding a large and beautiful field stone fireplace. Upstairs, a gas stove was added and Robbins has other plans that will make Cyndi’s Dockside a warm and welcoming four-season family eatery.

Meanwhile, back up on the hill at the Resort, Robbins has recently added a driving range to compliment the Donald Ross-designed golf course, grass tennis courts, swimming pool and miles of hiking trails. Other additions will include a playground and a game room to attract families with younger children. Robbins is particularly excited about the new miniature golf course that will feature the buildings that dot the landscape of the resort, as well as other Maine landmarks and points of interest.

Robbins, whose parents also worked at the Inn after they retired from their respective jobs, believes strongly in the concept of hiring locally and her employees include kids and adults who work summers, as well as others who work year-round.

Robbins’ attention to family and community does not stop with her new business ventures, her plans or her hiring practices. “The town of Poland has been a big part of why we have survived,” and she is grateful. She is proud to host charity golf tournaments, and every year provides the venue for the annual “Fire and Rescue” dance. She explained, “Poland Fire and Rescue has been here through fires and other problems,” and she wants to give back. According to Robbins, “Anything that helps my neighbors helps me.”

For more than 15 years, “I was the chef at the hotel, and served breakfast and dinner to 400 people every day. I’ve done every job except mow the grass.” Cyndi Robbins, whose tenacity has helped her learn the ropes of running a resort, is proud of what she has accomplished and is looking forward to the many changes that the next few years will bring.

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