Omni Mount Washington Resort
When industrialist Joseph Stickney commissioned 250 Italian craftsmen to build his Spanish Renaissance-style hotel in the heart of Bretton Woods, his aspiration was to create a resplendent New Hampshire retreat where guests could summer, escaping the balmy heat of the cities in the early 1900s. But over the last hundred years, those summer vacations have morphed into something so much more — four-season family fun. Flaunting a historic grand hotel, a beautiful country inn and an iconic mountain lodge in the White Mountain National Forest, Omni Mount Washington Resort gives new meaning to family vacation.
With a ski resort, canopy tour, golf courses and more, here’s a look at four-season fun at Omni Mount Washington Resort. (Keep in mind many of these activities can be enjoyed all year long.)
A New Hampshire winter wonderland
New Hampshire’s largest ski area, Bretton Woods, has 464 pristine acres of skiing and snowboarding, flaunting 62 trails, 35 glades, 10 lifts and three freestyle terrain parks. With so many diverse runs, there’s fun for every level, and because Omni Mount Washington Resort prides itself on being family friendly, Bretton Woods offers an interchangeable lift ticket so parents can swap time with their kids at the lodge, as well as “Stay Here, Ski Free” lodging packages that include two complimentary ski tickets per room per night.
Omni Mount Washington Resort is also home to the Bretton Woods Nordic Center, one of the largest cross-country areas in the East with 100 kilometers of Nordic skiing trails that meander through open fields and wooded terrain. Beaver ponds, mountain streams and a warming yurt are among the mountain’s hidden treasures, along with lift-serviced high country terrain and 11 kilometers of dog-friendly trails. Bretton Woods plays host to several elite racing competitions, including the Nordic Marathon, the Geschmossel Race and the Mount Washington Cup.
A family winter wonderland, Omni Mount Washington Resort also offers snowmobiling, dogsledding, snow tubing, ice skating and sleigh rides. In New Hampshire, snowmobiling has become a North Country pastime — an exhilarating ride across blankets of snow. And believe it or not, this adventure isn’t just for adults. The resort features a Kids Snowmobile Park with pint-sized Polaris snowmobiles so youngsters (at least 44 inches tall and under 110 pounds) can get in on the action. During the summer, there’s even a Kids Go Kart Park.
Spring in the White Mountains
The ski season carries on into spring, ending April 20 with a Patriot’s Day special that marks the last day of skiing; tickets are just $17.76 for ages 5 and up, including a return voucher to kick off the 2015-16 season (with the return voucher being good through Dec. 18, 2015). Once the snow begins to melt, golf clubs hedge out ski poles with the resort boasting 27 holes of championship golf. Architect Donald Ross designed the 18-hole Mount Washington Course. Here, the Presidential Mountain Range adds a backdrop like no other as the resort celebrates the course’s 100-year anniversary. For families looking to hit the greens, the nine-hole, par-35 Mount Pleasant Course is the perfect place for kids to master the etiquette and sport of golf during the resort’s youth clinics. Kids 12-and-under golf free at Mount Pleasant.
Spring also marks New Hampshire’s popular maple sugar season. Families can watch the harvesting of sap, taking in perennial attractions at the area’s sugar shacks and maple museums. During this time of year, Omni Mount Washington Resort whips up maple creations to the delight of its guests. Easter is also another big celebration at Omni Mount Washington as the Mad Hatter tea party gets under way in the Grand Ballroom, where a lavish table is set like a scene out of “Alice in Wonderland.” Its grand Easter Sunday Brunch features culinary delights that Peter Rabbit himself would relish, and often the purchase of Easter Brunch includes a free day of skiing at Bretton Woods.
As the forest greens deepen with springtime color, it’s the perfect time to experience one of New England’s longest zip line canopy tours — nestled right on resort property. Descending over 1,000 feet of elevation, the tour takes nature lovers and thrill seekers across nine zip lines, two sky bridges and three rappelling stages with a bird’s-eye view of scenic Rosebrook Canyon. In the warmer months, the adventure concludes with the Williwaw Racing Zip, a side-by-side dual line that leads right into the Bretton Woods base area. But guests don’t need to feel like they have to cram their zip lining fun into the spring season; the canopy tour is open year-round (even in the winter), giving the treetop views a new look each season.
Best family summer vacations
Like most mountain resorts, Omni Mount Washington Resort offers biking, hiking and climbing, but few can boast a rock climbing experience like the one available here The West Wall Guided Rock Climb at the Bretton Woods Adventure Center features a six-rope course or a more challenging rock scramble up the southwest face of Mount Oscar, landing guests views of the untouched Pemigewasset Wilderness and Zealand Valley from the climb’s 3,000-foot elevation.
Summer is a favorite time for anglers to visit Omni Mount Washington Resort. With the Ammonoosuc River running through the property, the resort is one of New Hampshire’s pristine fly fishing destinations. In front of the property’s grand hotel, a fully stocked fishing pond offers catch-and-release fun for little anglers. This year, Omni Mount Washington Resort has added a new Ammonoosuc River activity — a natural lazy river adventure. A new bridge over the Ammonoosuc connects the mountain’s base lodge to Fabyan Fields, the start of the resort’s added tubing adventure. After drifting down stream, tubers are greeted by all-terrain vehicles with six seats that transport guests back to Fabyan Fields.
The Bretton Woods Stables offer equestrian activities for all levels, including pony rides, trail rides and carriage rides. And of course, as a four-season resort, you can find sleigh rides in the winter. The Barn Buddies program provides families with a hands-on stable visit, where kids can help the staff care for the horses.
New Hampshire fall foliage
The trail rides continue into autumn, an idyllic way to see the Bretton Woods fall foliage. A splendid sight, the forest wasn’t always as it appears today, though. More than 100 years ago, loggers stripped the trees from the White Mountains Region, eroding the hillsides and creating other disastrous effects. Massachusetts Congressman John W. Weeks saw to it that the Weeks Act was passed, creating the White Mountain National Forest. Out of something bad, came the good — over time, maples sprung up where the dense forest once existed. Now, in autumn, Bretton Woods is a visual wonder. The fall foliage season, which usually lasts six weeks, starts in early September with fiery reds and deep oranges, turning an exuberant yellow by the end.
The nearby Mount Washington Cog Railway is a great way to see the foliage. The three-hour train ride takes visitors to the highest peak in the Northeast, once thought an impossible feat because of the 6,288-foot summit. The train’s unique cog design made the trek possible, and in 1976, the 146-year-old Cog Railway was named a National Historic Engineering Landmark.
Back at Omni Mount Washington Resort, autumn foliage gives new meaning to “a room with a view.” While Bretton Woods surrounds the hotel from every angle, the most colorful views are on the front side of the hotel, looking toward the ski slope, instead of the Presidential Mountain Range, as some might expect. But for those who want a truly unique stay, check into the room of former Princess Carolyn. Carolyn, the widowed wife of Joseph Stickney, became known as “the Princess” after marrying French Prince Jean Baptiste Marie de Faucigny Lucinge. Guests can sleep in her original four-poster bed. During her travels, Carolyn’s bed would break down and fit into a velvet bag to be shipped overseas. At The Spa, daughters can enjoy the Princess Package in honor of Carolyn, complete with a crown and dazzling wand.
Then, once the fall colors fade away, a new season of family fun is upon Omni Mount Washington Resort, marking yet another year, decade and century that families have been escaping to New Hampshire.