It didn't exactly start out that way as these scenes taken on May 16 show. yes, this was snow seen as we traveled a 2-hour road trip from Nashua to Whitefield, NH.
That's what we had a couple of weeks ago when we celebrated the 19th anniversary of our 1st date (yes, we do celebrate those odd anniversaries) at one of the grand old (and historic) hotels in the state.
Even its name is grand — The Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa.
A grand hotel is defined as a large and luxurious hotel, especially one built in a traditional architectural style. Other NH grand hotels include the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, The Balsams Wilderness in Dixville Notch, and the Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle. Over a century ago, many grand resort hotels were developed in large part because of the railroad which would transport families from cities in the East Coast and Canada to the cooler mountains for summer, many staying at these hotels for the entire season. There were many hotels, inns and boarding house and about 20 grand hotels that offered guests amenities including fine dining, riding stables, game areas, post and telegraph offices as well as a variety of outdoor activities.
The MVG majestically overlooks the White Mountains. It was originally called The Mountain View House by its owners, William and Mary Jane Dodge.
The story told at a history tour of the MVG is that two weary travelers were taken in for the night when their stagecoach overturned on the way from Montreal to Boston. The driver directed them to a nearby farmhouse where the Dodges offered them lodgings. The travelers haste to reach Boston faded when they saw the views of the White Mountains and received a home-cooked breakfast. They decided to stay an entire week.
The Dodges, recognizing this business opportunity, accepted their first boarders in 1865 and the next year officially opened The Mountain View House inn. Additions were put on over the next few years and by 1884, the inn could hold over 100 guests. By 1911, facilities were expanded to accommodate over 200 guests. The iconic tower was added in 1912 to take advantage of the scenic view.
Sadly, the new owners weren't successful; the inn closed in 1986 after 22 seasons and went into foreclosure, the furnishings were auctioned in 1989. The golf course remained in use, but the hotel never reopened and fell into disrepair. In 1998, it was purchased by a Massachusetts contractor who got the entire complex for $1.3 M. A $20 million restoration added a new hotel kitchen, tower spa, tennis courts, landscaping and scaled down the guest rooms to 145. The hotel reopened in May 2002 under its current name.
The MVG was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The hotel and 4,000 nearby acres were purchased in 2005 by American Financial Group which owns and operates historic luxury hotels in four other U.S. states.
The MVG has a formal dining room, restored ballroom, exercise room, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, Jacuzzis, a tower spa with panoramic views, 17-seat theater and wine cellar. Seasonal activities include golf, tennis, riding, dogsled adventures, evening campfires and axe throwing (no kidding) — Grenville captured 3rd place!
The hotel features the oldest operating elevator in the state of NH; operated by one of the hotel staff (no self service due to its age). There's a "working" farm with sheep, goats, chickens, Scottish Highland cattle, Angora rabbits, and llamas; fine dining in an actual wine cellar — dress nicely and bring extra $ for this experience (we passed this up). You can also play chess on this oversize lawn set. During the onsite history tour, we learned that U.S. President Eisenhower was a frequent guest who visited the reading room so often that it's now named for him.
During our 3-day trip, we visited another "grand" NH hotel, The Mount Washington Hotel where we had lunch and enjoyed spectacular views (more on this visit in a future post).
Did we have a GREAT trip?
In a single word —Yes!
Hands down, this was one of the best anniversary trips we've taken in recent years. Our stay was during the "off" season, which we would highly recommend when folks consider traveling if time isn't a factor. Why? rates are usually lower, there's fewer guests, and more attentive service. And, there's no jostling for the comfiest seat on the front porch or in the lounge.
That said, we're already planning a return visit for the next "off" season which we were told would be late October to early November (right before the holiday rush).