|Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa in Whitefield, New Hampshire|
Update 11-26-03: Since the time of my visit, the Tower Spa has outfitted every one of their 15 treatments rooms for dual services, and each of their 60+ treatments can be enjoyed by two people at the same time.
An exclusive summer retreat since 1865 for presidents and Hollywood stars, it fell into disrepair over the years and eventually closed in 1986. The Mountain View House was purchased in 1998 by Kevin Craffey, an entrepreneur who invested $20 million in an historic restoration to re-create the splendor of earlier times. The renovation saw 937 windows removed, 5,622 panes re-glazed, 78 miles of 135 year-old exterior cedar siding restored and painted, 38 miles of old mechanical piping replaced and 2,520,000 square-feet of wallpaper removed. The renewed Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa opened its doors again in May 2002. The Colonial Revival style resort now offers 145 guest rooms (larger and more comfortable than the original 200), each with mountain views - to the east is the Presidential Range, to the south are Lafayette and Cannon Mountains, to the west are Vermont's Green Mountains, and to the north is the Kilkenny Range. Additionally, the resort offers a golf course, conference center, equestrian center, tennis courts, pools, fitness center and a modern spa.
The 15-treatment-room Tower Spa is located on the fourth floor of the hotel. It currently has a wet room with Vichy Shower, a Chromatub room, four couples treatment rooms (some with a fireplace and one in the tower), multi-purpose treatment rooms and The Salon with manicure, pedicure, and hair stations. As large as the spa is, the entire fourth floor has been set aside for its current configuration and room to grow (which is currently being considered). The spa's most unusual feature is the 80-foot-high observation tower that sits over the hotel's main entrance and contains a couple's treatment room and a Japanese-style Ofuro tub (more about this later!).
On my drive to Maine this year, I stopped for a couple of days at the Mountain View Grand. It was June, and the lilacs, New Hampshire's state flower, were in bloom. The weather was pleasant, and the mountains still soggy from the Spring rains. My spacious room was located on the second floor and had a fabulous view. Amenities included a fluffy robe, TV, window air conditioner, ceiling fan and bath amenities. Nighttime turndown included a little stress-relief aromatherapy packet to help me get to sleep (in case the fresh mountain air wasn't enough!).
I took the opportunity to visit The Tower Spa on each day of my stay. On the first day, I climbed stairs to the fourth floor and checked in at the reception desk. The area, like the rest of the spa, was bright and cheery - pale yellow walls and blond wood floors. The spa is tucked under the rafters adding to the safe, comfy atmosphere and giving the treatment rooms unique shapes with sloping ceilings and gable windows offering panoramic views.
I was escorted to the Women's Lounge and exchanged my clothes for a robe and slippers. I helped myself to tea and relaxed until I was collected for my first treatment - a soak in the Japanese-style Ofuro hot tub at the top of The Tower. At the appointed time, I was escorted out of the lounge. We climbed one set of stairs and arrived in a room with two massage tables used for couples treatments in conjunction with the Ofuro tub. We climbed another set of stairs and emerged on the top floor of The Tower. Sitting in the middle of the space was a cedar Ofuro tub with high walls, aromatic from the essential oils added to it. The 360 degree view spanned tens of thousands of unspoiled acres and 57 mountain peaks. The space was protected from the breeze with sheets of plexiglass. I was left to disrobe and enter the tub on my own.
SPATIP: During my visit, spa staff did not stay in the room while I entered or exited tubs of water. Be extra careful getting in the water and even more so getting out of the water. Dripping water can be slippery, and you can be extra relaxed (and possibly less attentive) from the soak!
I climbed in the tub and enjoyed the whirlpool. I could not settle in any one spot, though. I constantly slid around the tub's circular bench admiring the views. This would be a fantastic place to be to enjoy the Fall foliage, or a sunrise, or sunset. It would be even more fantastic to share it with my husband. What a romantic spot!
After about 20 minutes, a voice on the intercom let me know that it was time to get out, dry off and meet my therapist at the bottom of the stairs. Pepper escorted me to a cozy treatment room for my Majestic Mountain View Body Wrap, the Tower Spa's signature treatment featuring New Hampshire's state flower, the lilac. It began with a dry exfoliation with rough, exfoliating gloves. It was followed by a spray of lilac to calm the senses. Lilac body lotion was then massaged into my skin and my body wrapped to give the skin a chance to absorb the lotion. While wrapped, Pepper gave me a scalp, face, neck and shoulder massage. Very relaxing! When the treatment was over, I returned to the lounge with smooth, soft skin and got ready for dinner at Juliet's Restaurant where I enjoyed a delicious spa cuisine dinner. I borrowed a book from the Eisenhower Library that evening and read myself to sleep. The library was named after President Eisenhower - a frequent guest.
The next morning, I visited the breakfast buffet at Juliet's Restaurant, walked around the property and returned to the sunroom for a yoga class with Dawn Berg - a great way to start the day. I took another walk, and then it was time for me to head for the the equestrian center for a trail ride. The afternoon was again spent in the spa. This time I started with a Chroma Bath in the Chromatub, the only tub of its kind in the United States. I was led to the hydro tub room, showed how to start the program and left to climb into the tub by myself. I got in the water which had been scented with essential oils, started the program and reclined in the tub. The 252 air/water massage jets massaged the bottoms of my feet, moved up my legs, paused at the hips and got my back and shoulders, then repeated the pattern. While the water was soothing my body, submerged colored lights were changing the color of the water - blue, green, pink, white - to help realign the body's chakras. As the tub stimulated my senses of smell, sight and touch, my sense of hearing was being addressed by the tub's surround-sound speakers playing relaxing music. A soft knock on the door let me know that it was time for my next treatment. I carefully climbed out of the Chomatub, dried off, put my robe on and joined Nicholette, my therapist, outside the room. She escorted me across the hall to the wet treatment room for my Balinese Boreh Massage. I started on the wet table. My body was exfoliated with a mixture richly scented with ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg which was rinsed off under the Vichy shower. I then moved to a massage table where a soothing cream was rubbed into my skin. This treatment is said to be good for blood circulation and bringing warmth to the entire body. It certainly leaves the skin silky smooth!
The Tower Spa offers over 50 services include massage (Swedish, aromatherapy, Indian, deep tissue, four hand, stone, craniosacral, Balinese Boreh, Champaca Bali, Swiss Cascade, Egyptian, in-room, upper basic, reflexology), facials (custom European, gentleman's, deep pore cleansing, "C" & "Sea," rosacea and sensitive skin, seaweed, back, eye treatment), body wraps, hydrotherapy (Vichy shower, Japanese-style Ofuro tub, 252-jet Chromotub) manicures, pedicures, hair removal, make-up services and salon services (all hair services begin with a stress relieving neck and scalp massage).
The Tower Spa is particularly well-equipped to handle treatments for two - friends, couples, mothers and daughters - since it has a number of couples treatment rooms (some with fireplaces and one in the tower). In fact, the spas offers a number of spa packages for two:
The Best Friends Package
A chance to relax together while sharing the moments and memories that made you friends in the first place. A 50-minute massage each, plus either a European facial or a Deluxe manicure and pedicure followed by a delicious Spa Cuisine lunch.
Romantic Sunset View Package
Sip champagne while soaking in the Japanese-style Ofuro tub while watching the sun set on breathtaking views. The tub is followed by side-by-side massages and finishes with champagne and canapés in the intimacy of a private lounge, complete with a blazing fireplace.
The deluxe two-night package begins with a bottle of premium champagne for couples to sip while sharing a luxuriating soak in the Japanese-style Ofuro tub. The bath is followed by sensuous side-by-side aromatherapy massages and the afternoon finishes with champagne and canapés in the intimacy of a private lounge, complete with a blazing fireplace. Includes accommodations for two nights which includes a special nightly turndown service with massage oils and breakfast each morning. A casual meal in Nicky Finn's is available on check-in night and the following evening, a romantic dinner for two is offered in Juliet's.
Wedding events at the Mountain View Grand are very popular, and complete wedding packages are available. The resort offers a number of of unique on-site locations perfect for a wedding ceremony including a folly chapel and in front of an antique five-tiered water fountain with a backdrop of mountain views. To complement the weddings held at the resort, the spa offers special wedding packages:
The Mother and Daughter Package
Perfect for a bride-to-be and her mom, a Mothers Day treat or anytime mothers and daughters want share some relaxation and bonding. The package consists of two side-by-side aromatherapy massages, plus two facials or two deluxe pedicure/ manicure, followed by a Spa Cuisine lunch for two in Juliets.
The Wedding Day Bridal Package
All the attention a bride deserves to be perfectly prepared on her special day. An aromatherapy body polish for glowing skin, a lovely French manicure and a beautiful Updo with veil placement and wedding day make-up. This package can be broken up in two days.
The Bridal Party Package (For 4 people)
With all the hectic activity leading up to the wedding day, this is a perfect way for a bride to thank her wedding party and to share some relaxing time together. Aromatherapy body polish treatments followed by French manicures and a shared Spa Cuisine lunch. Additional wedding party members can be included for an additional charge.
The Tower Spa also has a teen program to help young people establish early healthy lifestyle habits. With a few basic cleansing and nutritional pointers, young people can learn to manage outbreaks and blemishes while integrating skin care habits that will benefit them throughout their lives. This informative full day package includes:
A Teen Facial with deep pore cleansing and a skin care lesson focusing on cleansing, exfoliating, toning and moisturizing plus the importance of incorporating sunscreen into daily regiment.
A Deluxe Nail Grooming Treatment with nail care instruction customized to target both young men and women. This includes a foot aromatherapy bath, reflexotherapy massage, nail trimming and foot mask, a treatment of the hands and nails, a hand massage and special nail nurturing lotion application.
Either a 30-minute Nutritional Consultation or a 30-minute Make-up Lesson.
A healthy Spa Lunch to help teens learn to incorporate healthy food intot he usual adolescent diet of soft drinks, pizza, burgers and fries.
Other children can have fun at the Northern Lights Children's Center while mom and dad are at the spa or enjoying a game of golf, riding horses, hiking or skiing.
Activities (other than the spa) include cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, snowmobiling, downhill skiing at Cannon Mountain and Bretton Woods in the winter and badminton, croquet, bocce ball, horseshoes, tennis, shuffleboard, swimming in the outdoor pool, relaxing in the outdoor whirlpool, golf, nature trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding and fishing, canoeing and boating in nearby rivers and lakes for warmer months. An indoor pool, whirlpool, fitness center, library and indoor games are available year-round.
Photos copyright 2003, Julie Register
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