One of the best things about a midwinter getaway is the perks after a day of skiing or sliding. One retreats to a luxe resort to soothe the soul and stiff muscles. Three rewards top the list: a full spa with abundant treatment options, a chef who combines hearty with inventive, and a fireside around which to gather with friends or family. Here are three great choices of perk-laden resorts.
Photographs courtesy of Omni Mount Washington Resort
The Omni Mount Washington Hotel at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, is like an ocean liner anchored in the rugged White Mountains, casting back to an era of elegance and ease. Built in 1902, the hotel most notably hosted the 1944 United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, which built the bones of a post–World War II economy.
Ballast against winter winds and blizzards—which bring great skiing—includes a sweeping lobby with 23-foot-high ceilings and easy chairs in nooks to tuck into with a Kindle and tea (served in the afternoon). Long halls with muffled carpeting lead to snug rooms with classic décor plus flat-screen TVs and WiFi.
Across the street, the Bretton Woods ski resort, the largest in New Hampshire, yields the best type of New England skiing, featuring wide-open manicured slopes and hardpack with enough surface snow to grip, thanks to 92 percent snowmaking.
Some say Bretton Woods is more protected from the weather than other areas. You can always look across at storm clouds unfurling off Mt. Washington (the Northeast’s highest summit, at 6,288 feet) and be happy that at least you’re not up there.
New this year is the state’s first eight-passenger gondola, which whisks you from the base to Mt. Rosebrook in five minutes. Or stretch out on the 62 miles of impeccably groomed XC trails, some of which are also open to snowshoeing and fat tire bike riding.
The hotel has an indoor heated pool, hot tub, and 25,000-square-foot spa—try the Ultimate Journey Massage with a full-body exfoliation, shea butter application, body wrap, and hot oil massage scalp treatment, followed by your choice of a Swedish, deep tissue, or hot stone massage. Take part in restorative yoga after a day on the trails. Your body will thank you for it.
At twilight, take in the views of Mt. Washington from the Rosebrook Lounge while nursing a cold Mount Washington 1944 Golden Ale before you dine in luxury at the main hotel dining room; maybe select the cranberry pistachio Bay of Fundy Salmon.
Topnotch Resort at Stowe
Set in its own 120-acre woodland off the busy Mountain Road, Topnotch Resort, a AAA Four-Diamond resort in Stowe, Vermont, offers stunning views of the Green Mountains. Furnishings tend toward the minimalist so you can focus on the serene surroundings. A 60-foot solarium indoor pool (good for stretching-out laps) with sauna and steam room and a hot tub with cascading waterfall offer endless ways to relax body and mind after a hard day of skiing. An outdoor pool and Jacuzzi are open to the stars.
You can also relax outside amid fire pits and lamps in a cozy, glowing atmosphere. Dogs are welcome; pamper your pet with an in-room 25-minute Rover Reiki and Massage session.
Stay in one of the 68 recently renovated rooms or a choice of 17 resort homes to accommodate families. The food at both restaurants—the Roost and the Flannel—is tasty and fresh, based on local ingredients.
One friend enjoys stays here because of the full calendar of activities offered daily. You can snowshoe, hike with a guide, do yoga, or rent fat bikes from on-site Mountain Ops Outdoor Gear (follow the 5.3-mile Stowe Recreation Path). You can also play tennis on four indoor tennis courts in winter; a pro is available for lessons. Another option: Spend the day on a Topnotch Brewery Tour.
Topnotch has no fewer than 52 spa services; popular in winter is the body exfoliation for dry skin, followed by deep hydration and a massage—Swedish, hot stone, or deep muscle. Services include personal training and fitness classes. All of this is on top of the legendary skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort.
Take the free resort shuttle to the mountain. Then do what the locals do and follow the sun. Start at the Mt. Mansfield base on the swift Forerunner Quad for runs of 2,200 vertical feet, move over to Gondola for friendly cruisers, have lunch at the Cliff House Restaurant on top of Vermont’s highest peak, and then move to the sunny slopes at Spruce Peak, anchored by the stunning Spruce Peak Village.
After a full day of skiing, the hot tub awaits.
Jordan Hotel at Sunday River
The Jordan Hotel at Sunday River, Maine, is a bit like going to your own private resort. Five miles and change past the turnoff for Sunday River Ski Resort, you reach a rise where the rambling hotel greets you. Just above is Jordan Peak, the eastern most peak in the line of the peaks that march three miles across this ridge making up the Sunday River Resort. Ski in, ski out.
Sunday River offers a healthy dose of long scenic cruisers. With trails spread over 870 acres and 16 lifts, you may have a trail completely to yourself. To ski back to the hotel, be sure you get yourself back to the bottom of the Jordan Bowl Express before closing time. You can also take the free shuttle.
Once back, ease tight muscles via several options. There’s an outdoor pool and hot tub, plus a sauna and steam room. Enjoy one of the spa’s special treatments: Toasted Marshmallow Body Treatment, Snowflake Escape, or Winter Wind Down Massage. The spa supervisor is the very knowledgeable Meghan Clark from Brunswick.
New this year are CBD treatments to ease joint inflammation. The goal is to get you back on the slopes feeling great again. Be sure to book two weeks in advance.
You don’t have to leave the Jordan mountain retreat, with its spectacular views of the Mahoosuc Range, but you would be remiss not to visit Bethel to admire its mid-19th-century architecture such as Greek Revival houses with large attached barns topped by cupolas. Eat at several choices of restaurants—22 Broad Street, Brian’s, and the Sudbury Inn are favorites—and stroll down Main Street for shops and galleries, or check out the Ski Museum of Maine or the new Mineral Museum. Bethel is the real thing. If you like hardware stores, be sure to visit Brooks Brothers, even if you don’t need a new snow shovel.