Tradition and 'The Good Life' Is Alive and Well at The Balsams in Dixville Notch New Hampshire

September 7, 2009 | By | Reply More
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I’ve just returned from three wonderful ‘north woods’ days spent at The Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Notch New Hampshire.  You’re probably familiar with DIxville Notch from news broadcasts of  Presidential election campaigns, and the ‘first in the nation’ voting that takes place at the notch on the eve of every Presidential election.  As historic and intriguing as that event is,  there is far more to “the notch’ than heated politics.

Our journey began with a northerly drive through dramatic rock notches,  past sparkling lakes, traveling on serpentine roadways to our ultimate destination, Dixville Notch and the grand resort that has captured traveler’s imaginations since its construction in the Edwardian pre-WWI era.  The Balsams Resort stands proud, majestic and welcoming as you round the bend on Route 26.  This alluring resort has been enchanting guests since 1917 and today the charm still rings strong.

If you’re looking for an ultra luxury resort with travertine marble baths, rain forest shower heads, avaunt guard furnishings and nouveau cuisine, you’ve made the wrong turn.  If however you’re looking for an authentic turn-of-the-century grand inn experience, no one does it better.  The Balsams offers New England warmth and hospitality coupled with an almost endless array of outdoor activities that will keep every member of your family entertained. 

My first impression of The Balsams guestrooms was of a favorite Aunt’s country estate (if she had tons of money).  The resort has closer ties to an eclectic turn-of-the-century inn than a modern resort hotel.  Every guestroom has a different floor plan,  the plumbing is a bit quirky, and the flowered wallpaper and ruffled curtains could have come right out of your Grandmother’s New England country cottage.  The bedroom furniture is especially nostalgic with it’s light green aloe toned paint –  designed by the Ethan Allen furniture company for The Balsams Resort and steadfastly restored and maintained ever since.  There are no modern contraptions (like televisions or ipod docs in guestrooms) to spoil your immersion into the dramatic Notch lifestyle reminiscent of a by-gone era.  The Balsams Resort offers a perfect setting to reconnect with your family members.  The vision of The Balsams Grand Resort on a sunny day, surrounded by craggy notches, shimmering lake,  and vibrant gardens is likely to make your heart sing – to me it was definitely an experience not to be missed.

OK, so it’s a beautiful place….but what can you do there?  This is where the resort really shines – you’ll want to get out of your room and onto the grounds as quickly as possible.  Winter or summer, the resort keeps it’s guests active and engaged.  Summer’s focus is on the 18 hole Donald Ross 1912 Panorama course, coupled with Coashaukee, a scenic 9 hole course.  Golf clinics are offered daily and a delightful 18 hole putting course decorates the front lawn.  Tennis enthusiasts will be equally challenged on 6 professional courts.  Famed tennis coach Bob Greene is in residence throughout the summer to offer lessons and clinics for aspiring tennis champs.  (Bob coached the 2008 USA Olympic tennis team for the games in China).  The opportunity to meet Bob and take advantage of his considerable expertise is a true sports coup.  And of course there is a gorgeous lakefront pool and cafe for summer lounging.  Activities in summer are almost endless – here’s a sampling of complimentary pursuits:  mountain biking on 60 miles of trails, fly fishing on scenic lakes, kayaking, canoes, paddle boats, horse shoes, badminton, volleyball, boccie, shuffle board, basketball, pool side games, hiking and guided walking tours.  Horseback riding, moose safaris, zip lines and ropes courses are available at nearby facilities for additional fees.

The resort in winter is just as magical as the inn offers it’s own private ski mountain and lodge.  Mountain bike and hiking trails convert into groomed cross-country ski trails and snow shoe courses, and an ice rink invites all for festive skating parties.  I can almost taste the hot chocolate now!  And for the really adventurous, you’ll find the only New England dog sledding facility where you can learn to mush your own sled through back country trails.

The Balsams Resort is a place that should be shared with your entire family.  I can’t think of a better spot for a family reunion or a multi-generation vacation.  From the haute cuisine dining experience to the lively evening musical entertainment, to the elegant billiards room, to the fun kid’s cave and day-camp, to the multi-media gaming room and the magnificent setting –  every member of your family will find a corner to love.  Prices vary throughout the year with offerings from Bed and Breakfast stays for about $100 per person (and what a breakfast it is!!) to popular ‘Full Experience’ packages for considerably more.  The resort is closed from mid-October until ski season opens in mid-December.  Your best bet is to call for reservations 800-255-0600 so the helpful staff can assist you in choosing a room type to your liking.  There are various sports packages available as well as meal plans and special event series – lots to see and do – check out the website for all the details.

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Category: Family Vacations, Featured, New Hampshire Travel Tips, Trip Reports