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Photo of Omni Mount Washington  Resort, Bretton Woods, NH
Courtesy Omni Mount Washington Resortt

The Omni Mount Washington Resort

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

The Mount Washington Resort in New Hampshire's White Mountains dates to 1902. Pennsylvania coal and rail magnate Joseph Stickney built the stately white hotel, employing some 250 Italian artisans to create, among other things, the exceptionally ornate plasterwork that still decorates the lobby, ballroom, and octagonal dining room. Renovated now after falling on hard times, the National Historic Landmark once again lures guests with its 900-foot wraparound veranda, delectable dinners, and full suite of resort facilities, including an 18-hole Donald Ross golf course, swimming pools, horseback riding, tennis, and hiking trails.

The resort sits on 2,500 acres in the White Mountain National Forest in a ring of forested peaks. The tallest of these is 6,288-foot Mt. Washington, New England's loftiest. It is renowned for its windy summit where conditions are more arctic than temperate. The Ammonoosuc River flows past the hotel separating the knoll it sits on from the meadow beyond.

In 1944, the hotel made history when the representatives of 44 nations met there for the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference. Known as the Bretton Woods Conference, this historic meeting established the American dollar as the backbone or benchmark of international exchange, pegging it to gold at $35/ounce. The Gold Room where they met is now cordoned off and except for new carpet looks much as it did then. That conference also led to the establishment of the International Monetary Fund. During that historic summer, the hotel never opened to outside guests, the U.S. Government having taken it over for the entire season (only one other summer since 1902 has the hotel not opened and that was following the Depression).


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Tennis Features

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Tennis was part of the resort experience when the hotel first opened, but it reached a crescendo in 1972 when what were then 12 red-clay courts became the venue for the inaugural Volvo International Tournament. The event subsequently moved on, but its legacy survives in rooms that bear the names of such former competitors as as Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, and Roy Emerson, all of whom played in the Volvo event.

Tragically, those courts have disappeared, replaced by a spa and conference center. Four new red-clay courts were constructed off to the east, but that hardly compensates for the loss of history. The hotel's solid tennis pro, Tom Over, continues to spend his summers at the hotel. After playing satellite events, Over went to work for Laver-Emerson Tennis Holidays at what was then their site at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort on South Carolina's Hilton Head Island.

Tennis Programs. Over runs basic 1-hour clinics daily for adults and others for juniors, supplementing those with private lessons and sessions for stronger juniors (like those on high school teams), sometimes bringing in local junior players as well. "There are so many things to do here that people come up, play some tennis, and then go off to take advantage of the other activities," notes Over. "We do some round robins in late July and August when there are more players. We also set up matches, using employees and other guests. People like it up here. It's nice and relaxed." Court time is complimentary for guests.

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Other Recreation

Golf Courses. The resort has 27 holes of golf altogether, 18 of them designed by Donald Ross and later renovated using Ross's original plans. Its front nine is relatively level and open, while the back 9 is hillier and more exacting. The 2nd and 18th holes cross the Ammonoosuc River. Par 71. Length: 6,543 yards from the championship tees. There is also the challenging Mt. Pleasant 9-hole course.

And ... The hotel has two swimming pools, one indoor and heated, the other outdoor which is open year-round. A full-service Spa features 13 treatment rooms plus full salon services. There is also a whirlpool near the indoor pool, an equestrian center, carriage rides, guided hikes, bike rentals (and guided mountain-bike trips), historical tours of the hotel and property, fishing, and a video arcade and game room. Come winter, guests enjoy alpine and Nordic skiing at Bretton Woods, sleigh rides, tubing, and other favorite winter pastimes. The hotel is a short drive from historic Mt. Washington Cog Railway, which rubs to the top of Mt. Washington.

Children's Programs

The resort is a popular family destination, and children are encouraged to take part in a variety of activities. The hotel runs a seasonal Kids Club supervised program for those ages 5-12. Other daily activities include nature programs, arts & crafts, outdoor lawn games, and evening movies.

Restaurants

Guests have the option of dining in the 1902 Main Dining Room, renovated to infuse a modern twist into the century-old classic. Guests enjoy a seasonal New England-inspired menu, extensive wine list, and a unique 18x18' white marble bar with casual seating areas and craft cocktails. Other dining venues include the popular Stickney's Restaurant & Bar featuring prime steaks and chops, Rosebrook Bar with lighter fare for lunch and dinner, and the seasonal outdoor Observatory Bar with sharable plates. In addition there are six lounges, the most alluring of them The Cave, an authentic former speakeasy.

Afterward, there is entertainment in The Cave, an old speakeasy, which is one of six lounges. Kids and families can head for the Cranberry Creamery, an ice cream shop.

See Also

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Rates and Reservations

The Omni Mount Washington Resort

Route 302
Bretton Woods, NH 03575

Travel Essentials

Seasons. Although the hotel is open year-round, tennis season runs roughly from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, with activity reaching a peak from July into September.

Travel Instructions. The nearest airport is Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT) in Manchester, NH, 82 miles to the south. Other options are Portland International Jetport (PWM) in Portland, ME, 89 miles to the southeast, Burlington International Airport, 113 miles to the west or Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), 170 miles to the south.

General Tourist Information. Visit the New Hampshire Office of Travel & Tourism website.