BRETTON WOODS, N.H. -- About 150 miles north of Boston in the White Mountains of New Hampshire is the famous Omni Mount Washington Resort. Known more for the last century or so for its winter sports perhaps, it really is a resort for all seasons.
Especially for us golfers. Summers in New Hampshire, with their cool nights and sunny, warm days are hard to beat. Unless you're talking about the fall. That's when autumn reaches full glory in New England, providing a colorful backdrop to soaring tee shots off elevated tees.
The resort actually goes back to 1876 when the Mount Pleasant House was constructed next to what would become the famous Mount Washington Hotel, which was built in 1902. By this time, there were already nine holes at the resort and 18 more holes would come just 13 years later.
So for the past century, golfers and non-golfers have enjoyed the summers and falls at what is now the Omni Mount Washington Resort, which includes several hotels, an equestrian center and miles of hiking trails.
Here are five reasons visitors love coming here before and after the snowfalls.
1. Donald Ross golf, plus nine
The star of this show, of course, is the Donald Ross-designed Mount Washington Course. Anytime you can play a Ross course, you should take the opportunity, and this is Ross for the masses (most are private).
The 7,004-yard, par-72 course, which is surrounded by Mount Washington, the Presidential Mountain Range, Crawford Notch and the historic Omni Mount Washington Resort, was meticulously restored by architect Brian Silva with the re-discovery of fairway bunkers and the original greens complexes. With more elevation on the back nine, Silva also removed trees to restore the meadowlands look through the front nine and parts of the back nine.
Golfers, however, should definitely also play the Mount Pleasant Course, which first opened in 1895. The 3,215-yard par 35 runs alongside the Ammonoosuc River. A little tighter than the Mount Washington Course, it was restored and upgraded by Cornish & Silva Golf Course Architects in 1989.
2. Hotel setting like few others
There are several accommodation options, including the 1896 Omni Bretton Arms, but the grand Mount Washington Hotel -- where three presidents and Thomas Edison, just to name a few, have been counted among the guests -- is the one on the postcards.
The magnificent structure, a masterpiece of Spanish Renaissance architecture, is visible from nearly all parts of the golf courses and the perfect backdrop for many selfies. The most luxurious hotel of its day, The Mount Washington catered to wealthy guests from Boston, New York and Philadelphia. As many as 50 trains a day stopped at Bretton Woods' three railroad stations. One of these stations, Fabyan's, is now one of the Resort's dining establishments.
In 1944, the Mount Washington hosted the Bretton Woods International Monetary Conference. Delegates from 44 nations convened, establishing the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, setting the gold standard at $35 an ounce and designating the United States dollar as the backbone of international exchange. The signing of the formal documents took place in the Gold Room, located off the Hotel Lobby and now preserved as an historic site.
The 200-room National Historic Landmark was restored in 1990 and purchased by New Hampshire natives that include the Bedor and Presby families (owners of the Mount Washington Cog Railway) and the Clement and Eames families in 1991. While the rooms have all the modern amenities, the old world charm of this hotel is evident throughout, whether it’s the expansive veranda where guests take in daily sunsets, the majestic staircases or the old elevator that still manned by an operator.
3. $80-million renovation includes terrific spa
The resort recently completed an $80-million renovation that included updated guest rooms and public spaces, a 20,000-square-foot conference center and a 25,000-square-foot spa, which is a great place to recuperate from golf, tennis or horseback riding.
The spa's custom-made Mountain Mist products, used in its Signature spa treatments, are infused with such local botanicals as Candytuft, Nettle and Rosemary -- ingredients used since ancient times to soothe muscles, smooth and protect the skin and reduce inflammation. Like the mountains that embrace it, The Spa will open your mind, rejuvenate your body and soothe your spirit. We invite you to experience it for yourself.
4. Wide variety of places to eat
The nice thing about a large resort like the Omni Mount Washington is you don't have to leave to get plenty of dining options. From the breakfast buffet, to the main dining room, there's plenty of variety.
The best, however, might be reserved for the Stickney's Restaurant, open for lunch and dinner. From appetizers and soups like the area's famous clam chowder, to the signature steaks and lamb chops, it's fine dining in an elegant atmosphere. There's also the elegant Rosebrook Bar next door, but for a real special experience, guests should check out late-night entertainment in The Cave, a prohibition-era speakeasy with stone walls featuring live music and televised sporting events on select evenings.
5. Plenty of other things to do
You can spend most of your time on the golf courses, of course, but there's plenty of other things to do. Red-clay tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools, hiking, fly-fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, canopy tours, archery, disc golf or simply taking a historical tour of the grounds are all worthy.
One of the most scenic attractions is taking the free ski lift (during non-ski season), the Bethlehem Express Quad chairlift, for a relaxing ride to the Latitude 44° Restaurant. You can even attach a mountain bike to take back down the mountain. Finally, there's the Mount Washington Cog Railway, which goes back to 1868 and still takes tourists to the top of Mount Washington and back.