In 1881, a group of American businessmen (called themselves the Campobello Company) purchased most of Campobello Island. In an era of summer-long vacations and great summer resorts, the company hoped, by promoting Campobello's charms, to attract, well-to-do people with extensive leisure time to its hotels. Both the Canadian and American press promoted Campobello as a summer resort.
Built in 1881 on the northern end of Friar's Bay, the Owen was the first and most luxurious of the company's three hotels and could accommodate 400 guests. It was followed by the Tyn-y-Coed (Welsh for house in the woods) in 1882. An Owen brochure noted, "You can hardly tell where your friends are staying. If they breakfast at the Owen, they dine at the Tyn-y-Coed. On the Owen grounds were a casino with a spacious ball room and excellent dancing floor. A steamer and wagonette ran regularly between them, and calls (visits to friends) can be made and returned the same day."
The Company built its third hotel, the Tyn-y-Maes (house in the field), in 1883.
A former Tyn-y-Coed bellboy recalled: "There was enough of entertainment, even then, with the island for a base, to take up one's whole time....Each day had its thrills and new experiences. There was the driving about the circled roadways in traps and buckboards; billiards and bowling; games (tennis, croquet) on the lawn. Of course fishing, boating and bathing predominated. The (Passamaquoddy) Indians came from their reservation and sailed our guests in their birches (canoes)....One could sit for hours watching the changes of the sea, the fishing craft, a school of fish, the plying of boats..."
Inside the hotels, guests enjoyed billiards, card parties, sewing and embroidery, plays, musical presentations, reading, and socializing with other quests. On the hotel's grounds, guests took leisurely strolls, played tennis, bowled at the Tyn-y-Coed's alleys, and played golf on the small nine-hole course shared with the summer cottage owners.
Campobello's hotel era lasted about thirty years. The Tyn-y-Coed and Tyn-y=Maes hotels are believed to have closed after the 1907 season. the Owen, which closed and later reopened under new owners as The Inn, closed just before or after 1917; it was torn down before 1920.
James and Sara Roosevelt and their one-year-old Franklin stayed at the Tyn-y-Coed in 1883. They enjoyed their vacation so much that they purchased land a=on which to build a summer home.