Tucked in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Mountain View Grand Resort waits as a classic place to slow down.
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, New Hampshire.
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’s Tower Spa with its panoramic view of the mountains, one of the many amenities that has resulted in the resort being award the AAA Four Diamond status since 2002.
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.
>> Mountain View Road, Whitefield, N.H., 866-484-3843, mountainviewgrand.com
Depending Upon the Season
Fall | When the 1,700 acres of rolling hills become a confetti of jewel colors, saddle up for a guided trail ride on horseback.
Winter | Become a musher as snow blankets the pine forests, or travel like days of yore in a horse-driven sleigh.
Spring | As the sap rises in the spring, learn about tapping trees and making maple syrup, one of the agricultural programs.
Summer | Head out on the property to search for moose with an experienced guide as dusk falls on a soft evening.
If It Was Good Enough for P.T.
Travel to the top of the mountain the old-fashioned way aboard The Mount Washington Cog Railway, the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the world. “The Second Greatest Show on Earth!” proclaimed P.T. Barnum who rode to the highest point in the Northeast in 1869 when it first opened.
Close By and Not to Be Missed
Voted one of the America’s Best Little Small Town, Littleton, located on the banks of the Ammonoosuc River, is a delight of history, trendy shops, great green spaces, and public art as well as lots of walking paths within town including its River District, along the Ammonoosuc of course, that encompasses the multi modal bridge on Bridge Street through the Apthorp District on Union Street and beyond into Bethlehem via the Rail Trail. Eleanor Porter, author of Pollyanna, lived here and a statue of her title character celebrates her books and the joy of always looking on the good side of life–making Littleton a happy city.
The Littleton Grist Mill, established at the end of 1700s, is now home to Schilling Beer Co. Located right on the flowing river, it’s a step back into history.
While walking through the historic downtown, make sure to take time to check out Thayer’s Inn, built in 1850 and located on Main Street. Candy lovers will love Chutters, a candy store dating back to the late 1800s with the original 112 feet of the original Guinness World Record candy counter.
Dinner is Served
Considered to be one of the most popular menu items at the Mountain View Grand. This recipe serves 6 people.
Ingredients for the Beef Ribs
- 12 lbs of bone-in beef short ribs, cut between the bones into 6 ribs
- 4 tbsp Kosher Salt
- 4 tbsp ground black pepper
- 2 cups blended olive oil
Preheat oven to 375*F. Heat oil in a large sauté pan until shimmering. Season beef ribs heavily with salt and black pepper and sear ribs, one or two at a time, on all four sides until well browned. Arrange ribs evenly in a deep oven proof pan.
Ingredients for the Braising Liquid:
- 46 oz V-8 juice
- 20 oz tomato juice
- 32 oz beef broth
- 12 oz tomato paste
- 4 cups of cabernet sauvignon wine
- ½ cup cornstarch mixed with cold water
- ¼ cup chopped garlic
- 1 Spanish onion, cut into chunks
- ½ bunch of celery, cut into chunks
- 2 carrots, cut into chunks
- 4 bay leaves
- ½ oz fresh thyme
Combine the liquids into a large stockpot with a wire whisk. Add the cornstarch slurry and the chopped garlic, along with the tomato paste and mix well. Pour over the beef ribs, until they are almost covered. Any extra liquid can be reserved for later. Top the rib mixture with the chopped vegetables, bay leaves and fresh thyme. Add a sheet of parchment paper to the top of the ribs and wrap with aluminum foil. Place in preheated oven for approximately 3 hours. Check ribs with a pair of tongs. The meat attached to the ribs should be almost falling off the bones and very tender to the touch. Remove beef ribs to a platter and keep warm.
To make the sauce; strain the liquid through a sieve or colander lined with cheese cloth, pressing down on the vegetables to extract as much flavor as possible (you can discard vegetables, or eat them, they too are delicious!). Heat the sauce with any reserved braising liquid in a saucepan on the stove and reduce until the sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Season to taste with additional salt and black pepper as needed.
Ingredients for the Red Onion Straws
- 1 large red onion, thinly julienned
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 1 ½ cups of flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp paprika
- 3 cups vegetable oil for frying
Slice red onions thinly and soak in buttermilk for at least 1 hour (this step can be done a day before you need them).
To fry onions, heat oil to 350*F on the stove with a frying thermometer. Combine flour, salt, black pepper, and paprika in a bowl until well combined. Flour should have a pinkish hue to it (if not, add more paprika). Drain red onions and add to flour and mix well. Sift carefully and add to the hot oil in small batches. Remove golden brown onions with a wire skimmer and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat the process until you have fried all the onions.
To serve the beef ribs, set up warm plates with your choice of starch and vegetables. Top each plate with a hot beef rib, cover with the cabernet sauce and top with onion straws. For some color you can garnish with your choice of parsley, rosemary, thyme, or pea tendrils.