Tucked in New Hampshire's White Mountains, the Mountain View Grand waits as a classic place to slow down. Jane Ammeson
When I was young, my family and I traveled along back roads that twisted through rolling hills and historic hamlets as we made our way to grand hotels dating back to the late 1800s. Once there, we'd swim, ride horses and play games such as horseshoes and croquet. But as I grew, these journeys to sprawling old resorts gave way to trips by airplane to big cities, sleek hotels, museums and shows.
And so those distant days seemed irretrievable, a way of vacationing that belonged to a different time. That is until I once again followed a winding country road through the small towns of the White Mountains and arrived at the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield, N.H.
In the late 1800s, the U.S. had more than 1,000 summer resorts, many like this wood-framed escape with its towers, porches and neatly clipped green lawns. Now the 144-room Mountain View Grand, where luminaries such as Mark Twain, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, and Babe Ruth stayed, is just one of a handful remaining.
Its luxury is based on old-fashioned style: the attendant-operated elevator, the uniformed bellmen, the arched doorways, the long veranda. Always supercharged, I grow at ease sitting there while I sip Apple Blossoms, fresh cider mixed with local honey, and watch the night mists gather over the mountains. It's easy to slow down among details that bespeak a time gone by.
The activities that attracted visitors long ago are still part of the resort's offerings as well. The nine-hole golf course was designed in 1900. The clubhouse was built in 1939. The heated pool was dug in 1946, and the tennis courts were added about the same time.
I opt for taking walks through the extensively landscaped gardens and kayaking on Martin Meadow Pond, where loons provide the day's soundtrack. And while on a trail ride through the hills, I look for wild turkey, deer, moose and black bears.
Before Mountain View Grand became a hotel in 1865, it was the Mountain View Farm. And even after the transition, the original owners still relied on their farm to feed guests. Harkening back to those days, the menus in the resort's four restaurants reflect what is raised here as well as from food producers nearby.
And in another throwback to the resort's farm heritage, wool is spun from the hair of Mountain View Barn's alpacas, goats and angora rabbits and sold at the front desk.
Although there's reverence for the past, there's respect for the present, too. A wind turbine supplies some of the resort's electricity. There's not one stoplight between here and the Canadian border an hour away, but my cell phone signal is strong.
Each day I order a latte, sit in the antique-filled lobby and tap away on my laptop while using the free Wi-Fi. And I get a deep-cleaning facial at the resort spa that appears in Condé Nast Traveler's 2008 Top 54 Spas.
On my last day as I drive down Mountain View Road, I turn for a final look at the expansive resort with its green shuttered windows that offers a way to span the centuries and feel at home all in one.