Historic meets modernity: Mount Washington inn combines old and new
by Tony Chamberlain/
Most resorts grew up around their ski areas. But in the vast complex anchored by the soaring Mount Washington Hotel just west of the mountain it was named for, Bretton Woods alpine ski area is a newcomer. Indeed, this has been a sporting and vacation paradise for nearly two centuries.
The patina of history overlays almost all the activities in this valley, from mountaineering to golf, hunting, flyfishing and Nordic skiing. Downhill skiing, which now anchors the area, is less than 40 years old.
The spectacular Mount Washington Hotel itself is a resurrection from history, as is its smaller companion piece, the Omni Bretton Arms Inn, not far away on the same campus.
Built as a private home in 1896, and opened to guests in 1907, this is elegance couched in historic overtones, though the recent makeover of the Bretton Arms renders it thoroughly new and modern.
The focus on the first floor is the intimate dining room that, in summer, looks out on mature gardens. The woodwork is painstakingly restored, and the appointments around the interior are executed with the same loving care one feels throughout this restoration.
The Omni Bretton Arms offers 34 sizable guest rooms and suites, all with their private baths and indoor communications, in contrast to historic inns that share bathroom facilities. Each room has telephones with WiFi Internet access.
Dining in the Bretton Arms begins with a hearty big pre-ski breakfast, and gourmet dinners with an inclusive menu from light dishes to steaks and roasts. In the tradition of historic inns — especially like the Mount Washington itself — the Bretton Arms has one of those getaway parlors with fireplace and stuffed chairs and couches that are conducive to putting in some reading time.
Of course the Bretton Arms shares the same spectacular countryside as does the hotel and other lodging properties on campus. Where the golfing is a focal point in the warm season, the 100-kilometer cross-country trail network is a huge complex that stretches into the foothills of Mount Washington.
A short shuttle-bus ride carries skiers across the road to the Bretton Woods alpine area where the terrain — once flattish and billed as “no stress skiing” — now has been greatly expanded to offer any level of mountain challenge, along with complete modern accessories such as tubing and a canopy zipline.
At the inn, guests can arrange to be picked up in a horse-drawn sleigh or, for faster action, drive to a nearby snowmobile rental service that lets one access the deep back country of the Mount Washington region.
Of course, guests also are welcome to use the facilities in the hotel, which include 30,000 square feet of meeting space, a huge spa and salon and swimming pool open summer and winter. The hotel also features various shops along its lower floor, including a bakery and ice cream shop, and The Cave — an exotic hideaway bar deep in the bowels of the hotel.
The average per-person lodging cost at the Bretton Arms is $159.
Omni Bretton Arms Inn
173 Mt. Washington Road
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Thirty-four guest rooms and suites, many with views of Mount Washington
Both downhill and cross-country skiing, sleigh rides, full access to the Mount Washington Hotel that provides fine dining and 30,000 square feet of meeting space. Also offered is the 25,000 square feet pool and spa.
Omni Bretton Arms Inn is an elegant and historic hotel set on the sprawling resort west of Mount Washington. Bretton Woods’ alpine ski area has developed into one of the largest in New Hampshire, and the other amenities and activities give guests a full winter vacation in every way.
This article originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of New England Ski Journal.
Tony Chamberlain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org