Last year, we decided that rather than cooking and hosting Thanksgiving at our homes, we all would celebrate the holiday with our family at a resort. We chose the Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa in New Hampshire. Here are some of the reason we love this resort and decided to go again this year.
1) Beautiful Property:
2) Thanksgiving Dinner:
After driving for seven hours, we reached the hotel just in time to change and meet our family in the ballroom for Thanksgiving dinner. (We made a reservation in advance.) The buffet included a turkey-carving station with a choice of dark and white meat, pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon, prime rib, vegetables, mashed potatoes, seafood, and a salad bar. There was also a colossal bread, cheese, and fruit table and a fantastic dessert table (which was the kids’ favorite). We enjoyed dinner — almost as much as the company of our family — and no one had to worry about hosting or cooking. This is a family tradition that we hope to continue.
3) Mountaineering Club:
My kids loved the Mountaineering Club. What’s not to love? They made crafts — sock snowmen, Christmas ornaments, and gingerbread men — and played games with an excellent staff. The club is open most afternoons from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and is free during those times. The club is also open on some evenings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. by reservation only. On these evenings, the club costs $20 per child, which includes dinner for the kids. My kids had hot cocoa, ate dinner, and watched a magic show. While the kids were enjoying the club, we were enjoying the 1865 Wine Cellar Restaurant.
4) Wine Cellar Restaurant:
While my kids were at the Mountaineering Club, we enjoyed a fine dining experience at the 1865 Wine Cellar Restaurant. (Once again, we made a reservation in advance.) We loved this restaurant — where wines and candlelight surrounded us — and received fantastic service. The restaurant offered a three-course prix fixe meal with wine pairings. My first course was scallops; my second course was Truffled Mushroom Ravioli, and my third course was Skate du Paris. Other recommended dishes were Ribeye and Fall Chicken. Each course was paired perfectly with wine. For dessert, I ate a Burnt Campfire — dark chocolate, toasted meringue, and cotton candy…. yum! Though our dessert took a while to come, the restaurant manager offered us dessert wine and champagne. What a fantastic dining experience! We spent three hours at the restaurant and enjoyed every bit of our time there.
Tip: The wine cellar is usually cold, so dress accordingly.
5) Movie Theater:
The resort has an adorable movie room that plays various movies throughout the day and serves warm popcorn. We stayed there for a bit to watch The Polar Express and grabbed a box of popcorn. During a less busy season, you could pick a movie from the huge list for private viewing; but my kids were too distracted by the game room right opposite it. What’s better than playing foosball while eating fresh popcorn?
6) Game Room:
One of our favorite rooms at the resort was the game room. My kids loved playing foosball, air hockey, and ping pong. There is also pool tables for both kids and grown-ups. My favorite sport is ping pong (although my husband might disagree as to whether it is, in fact, a sport). I had so much fun playing competitive games with other hotel guests. In addition, upstairs on the main level, there is a room with lots of board games for guests — chess, checkers, Jenga, and many more. The resort hosts bingo every afternoon, which we all loved playing. My kids, especially, get competitive playing bingo.
7) Outdoor Playground:
On warmer days, my kids loved exploring this outdoor playground. With its towers, slide, and tons of open field for running around, this tiny playground is the perfect way for young children to let off steam.
From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., s’mores were offered by a campfire right outside of the main building. We reached there at 4 p.m. sharp to beat the crowd. The hotel staff was there with boxes of Hershey’s chocolate, graham crackers, marshmallows, and long wooden sticks to roast them. There were plenty of chairs to sit and enjoy these sweet treats. We got lucky and experienced the most beautiful sunset on a not-so-cold day. We also lost track of how many s’mores we ate… But who is counting?
9) Winter Wonderland Gala:
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the resort hosts the Winter Wonderland Gala from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Gala featured a buffet dinner, a photo booth, games (like musical chairs and limbo), dancing, and a visit from Santa and the elves. It is a fun event for families with small children. My kids loved the event — especially the photo booth where they took dozens of pictures (seriously!). It was a minor miracle that no one got into trouble.
10) Tower Spa:
I must confess that I have not tried the spa at the resort yet, but I took the spa tour on this trip. The soaking tub in the clock tower had a spectacular 360-degree view of the Presidents Range, with peaks named for Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Pierce, and Eisenhower (something I just learned). The spa also had a manicure and pedicure room, a bridal room, men’s and women’s lounges, and plenty of treatment and massage rooms. I regret not booking a soaking bath and a couple’s massage, both of which were sold out for the weekend. Maybe we will take a romantic trip without the kids and enjoy the spa one day. Wink, wink, hubby.
11) The Pool:
The indoor pool is a great place to spend fun time with kids during cold days. Kids enjoyed playing with new friends and spending time in the hot tub.
12) Mountain View Farm:
The barn at the resort features animals like sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits, llamas, and alpacas. Kids 5 and older can collect eggs in the morning and get to know the animals. The resort also hosts seasonal craft activities for kids and parents alike in the barn.
During holidays and Christmas time, the resort has many winter activities like snow tubing, sledding, ice skating, dog sledding, snowshoeing, and more. In the summer you can enjoy biking, fishing, an outdoor camp for kids, hiking, the outdoor pool, tennis, and more. Whatever time of the year to decide to visit, I guarantee you that you will not run out of things to do whether you are an adult or a kid.
All this is not to mention the cool things to do around the resort!
Things To Do Around The Resort
Santa’s Village is a magical place to visit — especially during the holiday season. It is just 15 minutes from the resort and receives visitors from all over New England. The hotel offers various Santa’s Village packages during the winter season. We decided to visit the park with our kids. They loved the huge Christmas tree, the decorations, the Santa Express train, the Sky Way Sleigh ride, and the Little Elves Flying School ride. They also enjoyed visiting Santa’s home, meeting Santa’s reindeer, feeding the reindeer carrots, and getting rings from The Reindeer Shoe Store Blacksmith Shop. The trip made for a magical holiday experience. The park was a hit with their grandparents, too.
My favorite part of the park was the Christmas light show — where Christmas trees, lamp posts, and just about everything else was covered in lights — which was choreographed to Christmas songs, a lively spectacle that took our breath away.
Santa’s Village is open throughout the year (with waterpark rides in the summer).
Polly’s Pancake Parlor
Just 30 minutes from the resort is Polly’s Pancake Parlor. This pancake institution is worth a try. It is known for its homemade pancakes and New Hampshire maple syrup. There is usually a long wait to get seated so call ahead to put your name on the waiting list. We reached the restaurant at noon so the breakfast rush was over, but we were ready for brunch.
The menu had eggs, sandwiches, muffins, french toast, and extensive pancake and waffle choices — buckwheat, cornmeal, oatmeal buttermilk, whole wheat, gingerbread (seasonal), and carrot cake (daily special) with toppings including blueberries, walnuts, coconut, chocolate chips, etc. They all sounded yummy. The server recommended his favorite combinations, and we decided to try them all. A unique thing about the restaurant is that your server is the one who makes your pancakes and you get to see them being made. It was an exciting and engaging experience for the kids and us. Homemade maple syrup, granulated maple sugar, and maple spread were served with the pancakes. All the pancakes were delicious…is there such a thing as too delicious? We also liked the biscuits with maple and bacon, another house special. The hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles was great, too. We over-ate, and so did the kids, who blamed their fullness on us. Really?
Bretton Woods Ski
Offering spectacular views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range, this ski resort is consistently ranked as one of the best in the east. It’s a great way to spend your day while you visit the Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa! Bretton Woods offers skiing for all ages and has a great ski program for kids. The ski instructors are super friendly, and the food isn’t bad either. If you visit in the summer, they offer zip lining, biking, and hiking for families of all ages.
Overall, my family had a wonderful experience at the Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa. We are excited to visit again, and definitely recommend it to any families looking to try something a bit different this holiday season.