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Bretton Woods, New Hampsire Hot

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Tucked snugly against the majestic backdrop of Mount Washington, Bretton Woods Ski Resort provides an intimate ambiance with a distinctively different attitude. The hamlet-style resort is set in the valley between Crawford Notch, Mount Washington and the Presidential range.

From its sleepy beginnings back in 1973, Bretton Woods Ski Resort has come into its own. As part of the iconic Mount Washington Hotel Resort, Bretton Woods has grown to become New Hampshire’s largest ski area. In fact, the past decade has brought significant growth to the resort in both size and appeal. In 1999 the century-old hotel opened for the first time to winter guests. This helped change the complexion of the winter side of the resort, bringing in a whole new crop of visitors.

mwr_carraige_hiWith that influx of fresh new vacationers came plans for considerable expansion. “We doubled the size of the terrain,” says Chris Ellms, the Director of Ski Operations. “We went from 200, you know, 225 acres or whatever up to 434 acres and developed an entire mountain.” The new, wide-open spaces offer panoramic views and a feeling of uncrowded, Western-style skiing.

The development of the mountain has included the addition of many amenities and programs that attract a wide array of interests. More than 100 trails and glades and 4 terrain parks are serviced by 10 lifts including 4 high-speed quads. With so much going on, the choices for things to see and do will keep you busy.

Well known for its family friendly atmosphere, Bretton Woods offers a range of activities where families can explore the surroundings on snowshoe nature walks or learn culinary secrets from top chefs.

mwr_dogsled_hiThere’s even a ski school where kids can learn to become the next Lindsey Vonn or Shaun White. The Hobbit Ski and Snowboard School offers skiing and snowboard instruction for children aged 4-12-yearsold. And for the little ones not yet ready to take on the slopes, the nursery has a daycare program for children from 2 months to 5-years-old. While the kids are happily occupied, parents can head off on a ski adventure of their own or just sit by the fireplace over in the Hotel lobby.

Fledgling skiers young and old can access the Learning Center quad. There they will learn to ski safely and securely while having fun and building confidence. “The ski area itself is blessed with wonderful intermediate and beginning terrain. We’re known as an intermediate seven.”

While Bretton Woods is primarily seen as perfect for the beginning and intermediate skier, at least 9% of the trails are designated for the experts. So more the advanced skiers in the family can also find a challenge.

mwr_nordic_skiing_hiBreathtaking views stretch across cool, pearlescent slopes making it a favorite destination during ski season. In fact, Bretton Woods typically receives an average of more than 200 inches of snowfall a year. No snow? No problem. The resort can make snow on 92% of their trails.

In recent years, Bretton Woods has gained national acclaim. SKI Magazine rated it one of the Top Ten resorts in the East.

It has also been ranked in the Top Five in the East for grooming, family programs, and scenery, not to mention weather, lodging, snow, and on-mountain food.

Much of the credit for the fine food goes to Chef Calvin Belknap and his staff of more than 200 folks. Belknap is the Executive Director of Food and Beverage for 14 of the area’s dining facilities including The Slopeside Restaurant and Pub, Lucy Crawford’s Food Court, and The Top O’ Quad restaurant. “The deck of that restaurant actually faces the resort, the Omni Mount Washington Resort hotel as it’s at sort of the base of Mount Washington which is kind of just breathtaking.” Bellknap confides. “ The view is just spectacular.”

mwr_orangeskier_hiLike the story of that proverbial duck on the pond – cool and calm on top but paddling like the dickens underwater, Belknap acknowledges there are plenty of considerations that make the job challenging. “You know, we are remote property so planning is very, very key,” he says. “The challenge for us is making sure that even with 14 outlets we continue to have wonderful variety for all of our guests who frequent our resort.” That variety, he notes, makes it possible for visitors to stay as much or as long as they want without getting bored.

Chef Belknap has received some pretty impressive recognition for his efforts over the years including the Four Diamonds Award, the Wine Spectator Award, and the DiRoNA Award; offered to distinguished restaurants of North America.

What makes Bretton Woods Resort so unique is its yearround presence on the list for downtime destinations. Once the snow disappears, those wanting to really know what all the “green” fuss is about can find a complete range of activities that will get and keep you closer to nature. “We have 27 holes of golf, we have a world class canopy tour, we have all these amenities that make a world-class resort,” says Ellms. “There’s backpacking, Nordic skiing, mountain biking, and all set within two-and-a half hours of Boston.”

The resort compound is on the grounds of the 800,000 acre White Mountain National Forest where a network of 100 km trails snake through dense evergreen woods and around calming ponds and mountain streams.

food5Planning for a stay at the resort includes a long list of lodging options. Guests can choose to stay at the Omni Mount Washington Hotel, The Lodge, or the Omi Bretton Arms Inn. The Townhomes and condominium also provide a great option for families with young children, who may need more of a feeling of home. Each is fully furnished and within walking distance of resort facilities. A convenient shuttle service is also provided.

The location provides the best of both worlds when it comes to planning a quick getaway. It’s just a straight shot right up Interstate 93 - so in two hours, twenty minutes from Boston, you can find yourself gliding down the slopes or relaxing in a heated Jacuzzi. “It’s an amazing resort,” Chris says.

Daytrippers and vacationers aren’t the only ones finding their way to Bretton Woods. Ellms says recent years have seen a steady flow of visitors from across the pond who have discovered the beauty of the area as well. “We’re getting an international flavor,” Ellms jokes.

First-class amenities in an out-of-this-world setting are just part of the Bretton Woods package. According to Belknap, creating an all-around experience for the customer is something they also want to put high on their agenda. “Well, I think it’s important to know that the service aspect of the resort is the most important,” he says.

Belknap believes it’s not enough to have great views and surroundings. He says that’s the easy part. “Those are all taken care of for us. The services are all up to us and it’s really, you know, preserving the past and creating the future. For more information log onto www.brettonwoods.com.

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