Bob Jensen's Favorite New Hampshire Luxury Resorts
Including Some That are Gone and Some Still Open for Business

Bob Jensen at Trinity University 

The cruse ship disasters of 2012 might inspire some tourists to consider vacationing on dry land.
Therefore I will focus on some of the large and historic resorts in or near our White Mountains of New Hampshire

Probably the most famous hotel-resort open year-around for business in the White Mountains is the
Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire ---
The hotel is best known in history as the site where the famous Bretton Woods Agreement was negotiated
President Roosevelt insisted that the Big Four (United States, United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China)
participate in the Bretton Woods conference in 1944

Mt. Washington is 28 miles from our cottage and is visible from my desk
It's known as the windiest mountain (daily) in the world that has a manned weather station on top
It also has the earth's highest officially recorded mountain wind speed of 234 mph
Mt. Washington Winds ---

Even with my camera zoomed I cannot see the Mt. Washington Hotel or its skiers


My friend Wes Lavin took this picture of the main hotel  last autumn (2011)
The hotel and surrounding resort  facilities are open year around
On occasion when Erika and I have house guests we take them for a night at this hotel

Tourists in good health (no weak spines allowed) can get from the resort to the
top of the mountain on a herky jerky cog railroad

More Cog Railroad Photographs ---
Also see


The Mountain View Grand Hotel just north of Whitefield also has a "grand" view of Mt. Washington

On July 4 two years ago Erika and I spent a night with friends at the Mountain View Grand
It was a cold and rainy week end, but I managed to get some photographs of this resort
The shot below was taken from the deck of our room on the top floor

The Balsams Resort is further north (on 15,000 acres not far from the Quebec border).
Under new ownership this resort will be closed for a year or so for extensive  renovations

More photographs of The Balsams --- Click Here


Wentworth by the Sea (Atlantic Ocean) in Newcastle near Portsmouth, New Hampshire

1908 Postcard


Of course there are many other thriving (more or less) smaller scenic hotels and resorts in New Hampshire
Just down the road from us is the current Sunset Hill Hotel and Golf Course ---


All these historic old resorts in New Hampshire are old and inefficient to heat and cool
Some efforts have been made to economize
Some like the Sunset Hill House Hotel have solar heating supplements
The Mountain View Grand has its own windmill supplemental power source
But buildings that are well over 100 years old a very costly to maintain in cleanliness and luxury desired by their customers
I applaud their success and survival since before 1900

Down the road in the other direction (south) from our cottage is the historic Homestead Inn
This very old inn is still in operation but needs renovations
This site marks the beginning of our Sunset Hill Road passing to the left as shown below


On the grounds of The Homestead is the wonderful Sugar Hill Sampler that's currently a popular gift shop and museum

About four miles west of our cottage, in Lyman, is the Ammonoosuc Hotel and Resort
We like its restaurant and the views of its golf course


About five miles east of our cottage off of Exit 40 on I-93 is the historic Adair Country Inn
We sometimes go there for dinner


Alpine Inn in Muttersill at the base of Cannon Mountain Ski Resort
This hotel is only a few hundred feet from a chair lift to the top of the mountain


Most of the large historic resorts of New England no longer exist.
For example, the present-day Sunset Hill House Hotel
 is a restoration of a former resort's old Annex --- 

In our tiny village of Sugar Hill three large and luxurious resorts built before 1900 no longer exist.

Our cottage is one of the few standing remnants of the historic Sunset Hill House Resort
In 1973 the main hotel and most of the surrounding buildings (casino, bowling alley, etc.) were demolished

The oldest and perhaps best known historic resorts in our little village was called Pecketts-On-Sugar-Hill
One of the reasons it was well known is that it was the home of the first ski school in the United States
The Oscar winner Bette Davis owned nearby Butternut Farm and was supposedly "rescued"
by the manager of the Pecketts hotel who later became her husband (that she may have murdered)

Here is an old photograph of the flower gardens of Peckets-On-Sugar-Hill

Just up the hill from our cottage was once a luxury hotel known as the Lookoff Hotel

The "Spring House" springs provided water to both the Sunset Hill Hotel and Lookoff Hotel
This building was remodeled into a private residence that still stands up the road from our cottage

Just a few miles down the road from Sugar Hill was the Profile House that looked like this in 1901

Below are some pictures of old nearby hotels that no longer exist
For example, in the small village of Bethlehem about eight miles from our cottage there were
at one time 14 luxurious hotels, none of which are now in operation ---

Part of the Maplewood Hotel still exists as a golf clubhouse

Why did most of the large and historic resorts of New England and Canada play out in the latter half of the 20th Century after thriving for 100-200 years in the windy mountains, cold lakes, and on the Atlantic Ocean's shore?

Jensen Comment
Over 95% of these grand resorts were torn down or burned down in the latter half of the 20th Century. This begs the question about why these thriving resorts met their demise. In nearby Bethlehem, as noted above, there were 14 such huge hotels. Today all 14 have either disappeared or are boarded up. In Sugar Hill where we live there were three large resorts that no longer exist.

Reasons for the beginning of the end are  numerous and complicated. But one of the main causes was the invention of effective building air conditioning. Before AC, women and children escaped from the sweltering heat of big cities in the east, south, and even cities in the Midwest like Chicago and St. Louis. Husbands and fathers frequently visited on long weekends via a vast network of passenger trains that ended in places like the Sugar Hill Station.

Other major reasons for the demise of the big summer resorts of the northeast included improvements in automobiles and roads. Painstakingly slow Model T Fords were prone to breakdowns and flat tires on unpaved and rutted mountain roads. Eventually fast cars with amazing tires were whizzing over paved roads at over a mile-a-minute. New roads were opened up to real estate in the windy mountains, cold lakes, and on the Atlantic Ocean's shore. People not only commenced to build second homes for summer retreats and winter skiing, they built such places as investments in booming real estate markets following World War II.

Families in urban centers commenced to favor touring vacations instead of fixed-in-place resorts. What became especially popular and still is popular is for mom and dad to drop their kids off for a few weeks in summer camps in New England and then to tour like honeymooners to other parts of New England and Eastern Canada.

Some causes of demise of these resorts were interactive. With the greatly improved automobiles and roads came the decline in passenger rail service upon which New England's grand old resorts depended upon for customers. Although train travel remained the most comfortable and efficient way to travel from Baltimore to Sugar Hill Station, there was not enough daily demand year around along the way to keep passenger rail service profitable. Workers commenced to use their cars to get to and from their jobs in places like Pittsfield, MA, Hartford, CN, and Manchester, NH. Passenger trains serving such working towns became unprofitable, especially in the face of union featherbedding and wage demands.

In the meantime, costs increased dramatically for these labor-intensive grand old resorts. World War II changed the labor markets dramatically. Women could now leave their chambermaid jobs for careers in factories and offices. Minimum wage laws were enacted ---

And the old hotels themselves were becoming outdated relative to changed lifestyles. Hotel guests no longer wanted to go back and forth down the hall to "water closets" shared by other guests. Television and fast food replaced nightly dining and dancing and conversations on porches and verandas. Lifestyles became too fast-paced for rocking chair living.

Towering business hotels started being built in big cities under such names as Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, and Sheraton. In 1944 near the end of  World War II, Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt met with the world's leading economists and bankers in New Hampshire's grand old Mount Washington Hotel. It was quite a journey by train for these heads of state and leading economists and world bankers to travel from major airports to Bretton Woods, NH. In more modern times these busy executives would prefer to meet in luxury air conditioned hotels much closer to the international airports ---

The days of the above surviving resorts are probably numbered. Costs of maintaining these historic structures according to hotel codes of today are out of sight. Costs of labor and insurance are astronomical. Families willing to spend $5,000 on a luxury vacation now opt for cruise ships and tours of China, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Pricing in the old days was somewhat interesting. Costs were often less that $5 per day for room and board instead of $500 per day  --- Click Here
And today there are no dance orchestras playing each and every evening these days.

But 1800-1960 was a wonderful era for New England and Canadian historic luxury resorts while it lasted. And you can still experience much of what it was like in the old days in some of the resorts pictured above.



More of Bob Jensen's Pictures and Stories

Bob Jensen's photo set on White Mountain Hiking Trails ---

Long Trail Photographs (the Green Mountains of Vermont) Trail Photographs 
Oldest Long Distance Hiking Trail in the United States

February 18, 2012 message from my good friend Barry Rice in Baltimore

In the last 28 months, The Baltimore Sun has published all three of my submissions in the Travel Section of the print edition. The most recent was last Sunday. You can see them using this link even if you donít have a Facebook account:


On May 14, 2006 I retired from Trinity University after a long and wonderful career as an accounting professor in four universities. I was generously granted "Emeritus" status by the Trustees of Trinity University. My wife and I now live in a cottage in the White Mountains of New Hampshire ---

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Our address is 190 Sunset Hill Road, Sugar Hill, New Hampshire
Our cottage was known as the Brayton Cottage in the early 1900s
Sunset Hill is a ridge overlooking with New Hampshire's White Mountains to the East
and Vermont's Green Mountains to the West



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