Bretton Woods, N.H., Omni Mount Washington Resort And Spa

Aug 1, 2012
2012 / August 2012

They’re so cute when they’re asleep. Their angelic faces peaceful and serene. A toddler? A kitten? Maybe a puppy?

Nope. I was looking at my 19-year-old niece, Meaghan. Wrapped in a fluffy white robe, her blond hair pulled up in a soft bun, she was reclined on a creamy golden chaise longue in the tranquil ladies’ drawing room at the Omni Mount Washington Resort.

What’s wrong with this picture? Absolutely nothing. I just can’t recall ever seeing Meaghan look so relaxed. Like most 19-year-olds, she’s a swirling, whirling dervish of activity — school, work, friends, gym, texts — from morning ’til night and then some. But in this moment, she’s still.

My sister, Nancy, Meaghan and I arrived at the Omni Mount Washington Resort the previous afternoon. It was early spring, and the plan for our girls’ getaway was to settle in and relax for the evening, then rise early the following morning to get in a few runs on the slopes before heading to the spa for an afternoon of indulgence.

But Mother Nature had other ideas, pumping up the temperature and pouring on the drizzle until the trails that were prime for spring skiing one day were mud puddles the next morning. Ah, well, what’s a girl (or three) to do? The spa beckoned.

Located in what is now New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest, the Omni Mount Washington Resort is a grand dame hotel in the truest sense. Joseph Stickney, a New Hampshire native who made a fortune through interests in coal mining and the Pennsylvania Railroad, spared no expense building the hotel at the turn of the last century. When it opened on July 28, 1902, it ranked among the most luxurious of its day, drawing wealthy guests from Boston, New York and Philadelphia.

Now a member of Omni Hotels & Resorts, the Omni Mount Washington Resort recently completed a three-phase, $60 million renovation and expansion that included the addition of a 25,000-square-foot spa that blends seamlessly with the Old World ambience of the historic hotel. A long, spiral staircase leads to the spa entrance. Whether intentional or not, the descent marks a transition from the hotel’s bustling public spaces to the tranquility of the spa.

We were about an hour early for our treatments — Swedish massages for Meaghan and Nancy, a deep-tissue massage and lemon verbena body polish for me — so we made a beeline for the women’s locker room to change into our swimsuits before heading for the alfresco whirlpool. Billows of steam enveloped us as we slipped into the just-right water to soothe our weary bodies in a garden setting surrounded by views of the still-snowcapped Presidential Range.

We finally emerged from the whirlpool when our fingertips began to wrinkle, leaving enough time to shower and stretch out in the ladies’ lounge to await our treatments.

While many spas offer either a co-ed lounge area or separate relaxation rooms for men and women, The Spa at the Omni Mount Washington Resort has both. Access to the alfresco whirlpool is through the co-ed lounge, a heavenly space done in creamy tones of beige, brown and gold and furniture arranged in intimate conversation areas. While I didn’t get a chance to peek inside the men’s lounge, I assume it is a slightly more masculine version of the women’s drawing room. Done in the same soothing color scheme of the co-ed lounge, the women’s area features billowy, full-length curtains that can be drawn around chaise longues to create semi-private relaxation cubbies.

The spa employs a line of custom-blended Mountain Mist products inspired by flora and fauna native to the White Mountain region, including candytuft, nettle and rosemary. While Meaghan and Nancy wandered off to enjoy their Swedish massages, I started my treatments with a lemon verbena body polish. The fragrance of sweet lemons filled the room as my therapist exfoliated my skin using a mixture of lemon verbena, aloe, oats and shea butter. I then stepped into a spacious shower to rinse before returning to the table, where my therapist applied a soothing blend of lemongrass and ginger oil.

Feeling dreamy as I meandered along to my next treatment, a deep-tissue massage, I was surprised when just minutes into the rubdown the therapist asked if I got frequent headaches. I do, but in that moment I was headache-free. “Remind me to show you something when we’re done,” he said.

Fifty minutes later, feeling completely relaxed, I was curious to learn about this simple headache remedy. The therapist instructed me to hold the space between the thumb and forefinger on one hand between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand.

“Do you feel that it’s a little puffy, like a pillow?” he asked. I did. “Press gently until that deflates. You’ll feel it.” And I did, again.

In the months since my visit, I have employed this simple acupressure technique countless times. Does it make a raging headache disappear? No. But if I remember to catch it early enough, it provides great relief, leaving me feeling just a bit more peaceful — maybe even serene.

Omni Mount Washington Resort and Spa
310 Mount Washington
Hotel Road
Bretton Woods, NH 03575
tel 603 278 1000

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