Destination I Do

New Hampshire Destination Wedding

Words by Courtney Kellar

Having a destination wedding doesn’t have to mean traveling thousands of miles with a shiny new passport. Your dream location may be within driving distance. Destination I Do looked to one U.S. destination which has been a place of refuge for New Englanders for over a century – the Omni Mount Washington Resort.

Located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, this National Historic Landmark was opened in 1902 as the most modern “grand hotel” of the era. The Mount Washington Resort was an instant success with all the modern amenities, including a Thomas Edison-designed electrical system. Edison himself made the first toast to mark the hotel’s grand opening.

Much like back in 1902, guests today will enjoy modern amenities, but with the history of decades past. For example, the rooms aren’t large based on today’s standards, but they’re made comfortable with vintage bathroom fixtures, cozy fireplaces and plush linens. The architecture and layout pay homage to the time in which the property was built. In the early years of the hotel, guests traveled from Boston or New York City to see-and-be-seen, not to spend time in their rooms. 

The main staircase in the Great Hall was built to accommodate women with wide-sweeping hoop skirts and to provide a view of the hotel’s lobby – all the better to scope out the competition for “best dressed.” A tour of the property plays out much like a lesson in history: high tea in the Princess Dining Room, live music in the Conservatory and a fresh beer in the Prohibition-era speakeasy located in the basement.

The Omni Mount Washington Resort was the original weekend getaway for the privileged of New England. Thankfully, guests no longer have to travel by train or horse-drawn carriage to reach this retreat – it’s a six hour drive from New York City and an easy three hour drive from Boston.

You and your destination wedding guests could stay a month and not experience all the Omni Mount Washington Resort has to offer. During winter, activities include ice skating on top of the Jewel Terrace, Nordic cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, dog sledding, snow tubing, horse-drawn carriage rides and a canopy tour through the White Mountains – to name a few. After a long day enjoying the hotel’s impossibly spacious grounds, head over to the Bretton Arms for a wonderful culinary experience. What is now a charming B&B boasting a renowned restaurant once served as the private residence for the hotel’s founder, Joseph Stickney.

The hotel’s new 25,000 square-foot spa is the only major add-on since the property was built back in the early 1900s. Needless to say it’s a welcome addition with meticulous decoration, sprawling relaxation areas and, of course, an outdoor hot tub with a view of the mountains. During my stay I found myself spending more time in this retreat than in my room – I kept finding a reason to go back.

That seems to be a trend at the Omni Mount Washington Resort as it’s not hard to find loyal return-guests. I ran into a group of 11 couples who have come back on the same weekend for the last 16 years! The guests and staff have found a harmonious balance of honoring the past while making new memories which will last a lifetime. Good food, family fun and beautiful surroundings – what worked back then, works just as well now. After all, why mess with a good thing?

The image above is courtesy of the Omni Mount Washington Resort. This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Fall/Winter 2012 issue.

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