Point of View

Mprominent peak in the Eastern U.S., is located in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains. Located at the base of the 6,288-foot mountain is the expansive Mount Washington Resort (Bretton Woods, NH), which is surrounded by nearly 800,000 acres of the White Mountain National Forest.

The resort offers local New Englanders and travelers breathtaking views of the highest peak in the Eastern U.S.
The resort offers local New Englanders and travelers breathtaking views of the highest peak in the Eastern U.S.

The 107-year-old resort is steeped in history, from the notable guests it has hosted, including Thomas Edison, Babe Ruth, and several U.S. presidents, to The Cave, which was originally a speakeasy during Prohibition and now serves as a nightclub featuring daily live entertainment. In 1944, the resort also hosted the Bretton Woods International Monetary Conference, during which delegates from 44 nations convened to establish the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. To add to the resort's storied life, it recently underwent an extensive $50 million renovation, which included the addition of a Presidential Wing housing a conference center, an outdoor pool complex, a landscaped rooftop, and the 25,000-square-foot Spa at Mount Washington Resort.

Helping guests relax and connect with the healing nature of the surrounding mountains and forest is the main focus of the spa. The resort's history and its environment also served as inspiration for the spa's design. "Our goal was to unite the two in a way that upheld the importance of both," says interior designer Amy Beaty of the Richmond, VA-based interior design firm Beaty & Brown. "We knew right away that this spa was not going to be a sweet, dainty place. It was going to be about man's existence and relationship with the earth. We also wanted it to be about the appreciation of a historical site, where age is respected and the beautiful elements of the resort are enhanced, not ignored."

The spa is located on the lower level of the resort's new Presidential Wing.
The spa is located on the lower level of the resort's new Presidential Wing.

Photographs of local botanicals taken on the resort's property by photographer Ansel Olson can be found throughout the spa, and the furnishings were chosen to create an ambience that reflects the simple beauty of nature while preserving the uniqueness of the resort. Most of the 13 treatment rooms feature windows offering breathtaking views of the mountains. In order to enhance this quality, not detract from it, Beaty wanted to keep the rooms simple, with wooden cabinets painted a robin's egg blue shade and wallpaper-covered ceilings.

The spa's atmosphere allows guests to feel at one with nature. However, those who don't want to settle for just the feeling of being outdoors can relax in the spa's outdoor garden lounge, which includes a whirlpool and offers panoramic views of the mountains. In addition, guests are invited to enjoy the spa's indoor amenities, including a co-ed lounge and separate women's and men's relaxation lounges, locker rooms, steam rooms, and saunas.

Most treatment rooms feature views  of the Presidential Range.
Most treatment rooms feature views of the Presidential Range.

Similar to the decor, simplicity is a word that can also be used to describe the spa's menu of services. "When we were coming up with the menu, we aimed to keep it as simple as possible," says spa director Libby Staples. "Guests get overwhelmed when they see a really complicated menu." The spa's 30 employees are all well-versed in the spa's offerings, including, and perhaps most importantly, the reservation staff who walks guests through the menu to choose the most appropriate service for their needs.

While guests can choose from a variety of face, body, hair, and nail treatments, massage tops the list as the most requested service. "It seems that when people go on vacation, they just really want a massage," says Staples. "While most people are usually tied to their hairstylist at home and already have an esthetician to treat their skin, massage is something with which many guests experiment." The Mount Washington Customized Massage ($105, 50 minutes; $140, 75 minutes) is highly requested, as it can be tailored to fit each individual client's needs, but because many of the guests take advantage of the resort's outdoor activities, such as skiing and hiking, the Adventurer's Massage ($105, 50 minutes) is also popular. This treatment relieves muscular tension, pain, and discomfort while increasing flexibility and circulation. It is perfect as an après-skiing or -hiking treat.

Guests can ease their post-skiing or -hiking muscles with a relaxing massage or body scrub.
Guests can ease their post-skiing or -hiking muscles with a relaxing massage or body scrub.

The spa also offers two signature treatments, which incorporate its line of signature products developed using local healing botanicals and aptly named Mountain Mist because its scent is reminiscent of the outdoors. "We wanted something that would remind people of a hike in the woods," says Staples. Such treatments include the Alpine Body Glo ($105, 50 minutes), which is a deep-cleansing, nourishing treatment that includes an exfoliation, a hydrotherapy massage shower, and an application of lotion, and the Mount Washington Signature Body Ritual ($140, 75 minutes), which is a hydrating treatment that conditions, moisturizes, and eases stress from the body.

"Our signature treatments are popular, but our body treatments are the hardest to get people to try," says Staples. She hopes to attract guests to the body treatments by offering them at special prices and also creating new treatments based on the time of the year. For example, during mud season, which is a term New Englanders use to describe the time period between late winter and early spring when roads and hiking trails become muddy from melting snow and rain, a body treatment incorporating mud will be created. "Mud season at the resort is usually the slowest time of the year," says Staples. "We want to give guests an even bigger reason for coming here during that time, making the resort a true four-season destination."

Female guests are encouraged to visit the women's relaxation room pre- and post-treatments.
Female guests are encouraged to visit the women's relaxation room pre- and post-treatments.

According to Staples, visitors to the resort have fully embraced the new spa. "Travelers these days expect a resort to have a spa," she says. "It is not something extra anymore, it is required. Our spa guests come here to get away for awhile and be pampered." While attracting resort guests to the spa has not been much of a challenge, attracting locals has proved to be a more difficult task. In the months ahead, Staples hopes to increase the spa's local business. "The local history is so tied to the resort that a lot of locals feel pride and ownership," says Staples. "There is not a big spa scene in the area, so it is hard to get locals to spend money on themselves on something many of them consider a luxury. We are really trying to change that by making everyone feel like The Spa at Mount Washington Resort is for them."

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