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Bretton Woods is a country club of a ski resort in the very best of ways. Master of snow surface, embracer of all that is customer service, and owner of one of the loveliest settings in skiing. “Top notch in grooming, snow quality, scenery, and family friendliness,” asserts one reader. The resort’s rankings back that up, putting it first in Scenery and Grooming, second in Snow, third in Lifts, and fourth in Lodging. This past season, Bretton Woods debuted a shiny new gondola, zipping folks to the top in just over four minutes while soaring 75 feet above the resort’s other lifts, offering a breathtaking view of the Presidential Range dotted with that cherry red roof of the famed Mount Washington Hotel.
Let’s talk about that hotel and the resort’s highly ranked lodging. The Mount Washington Hotel, more than 100 years old, opened for winter guests 20 years ago and has been booked solid since. “Bretton Woods’ proximity to the Mount Washington Hotel makes it our favorite ski vacation destination,” notes one reader. The combination of a posh setting marinating in history (think “The Shining” if things ended well), over-the-top food, and a stay-there-forever spa that’s just a two-minute (free) shuttle ride from the ski base, is unique to the ski world. For a more kicked back vibe, there’s the Bretton Arms, condos for rent, and even a basic yet comfortable motel.
At Bretton Woods, it’s not just about the skiing and riding: there’s so much more, from indoor and outdoor rock-climbing walls at the base to high-quality Nordic trails, tubing, and other winter fun. Bretton Woods critics point out that there’s not much there for seekers of the gnar (“Not steep enough,” one reader laments), but most feel the well-maintained slopes are a perfect setup for across-the-board family and group fun. “Everybody here is always smiling and having fun.” — Moira McCarthy
2021 Reader Rank of Bretton Woods: No. 7 in the East
- WHAT’S NEW: A new nearly-mountaintop lodge features a food scramble, coffee shop, some fine dining, function space, and a view that’s to die for. Accessible by gondola for those who (gasp) don’t ski.
- MANDATORY RUN: The glades just off the Telegraph T-Bar give you the true old-New Hampshire skiing experience: thirty acres of beautiful trees, a couple of cliffs, and a classic lift.
Get back: No. 8 in the East – Sugarbush, Vt.
Go forward: No. 6 in the East – Holiday Valley, New York
Bretton Woods’ 2020 SKI Magazine Reader Resort Survey Rank: 9th in the East
Things are looking up at Bretton Woods, and we mean that literally. This season, a shiny new eight-person gondola (the only one in New Hampshire) will zip folks high up the mountain, offering sweeping views of the Presidential Range, one of Bretton Woods’ most admired qualities (No. 1 in Scenery).
The resort is also debuting a large mountain top dining spot that will highlight those epic views. The ski area doesn’t rest on all that beauty, though. Readers rank it tops in both snow and grooming. “On a cold, windy, and icy midweek day, there’s no better resort around.” There’s a reason: all staff is trained in the art and science of snowmaking and grooming, which means they can watch the weather and take action when the time is right, instead of when a staff schedule accommodates it.
Bretton Woods also gets kudos for lodging (No. 7) and its breathtaking Mount Washington Hotel (“Awesome, unique, and one-of-a-kind!”). One reader highlights the resort’s family-friendliness (No. 3), commenting on how all the lift ops know the name of her son with special needs. What about those who say the skiing is too easy? Head to the T-bar and take on the glades. Even Bode Miller says he finds challenge there. — Moira McCarthy
- OFF-THE-MAP TRAIL: Backcountry lessons are big—they’ll gear you up, teach you how to ski backcountry, and show you some spots you didn’t even know existed.
- DOWN DAY ACTIVITY: The Canopy Tour is wildly popular in the summer, but just as cool in the winter. Soar on zip lines over trails on this sky-high tour.
- LOCAL TIP: Bloody Marys at the base lodge bar. Made with magical ingredients and topped with the same huge shrimp served at the posh Mount Washington Hotel.
SKI Magazine’s 2019 Review of Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
You won’t find crazy steeps at Bretton Woods, but the scenery alone is worth a visit. From the top you can admire lofty Mount Washington and the Presidentials in all their glory, accented by the cherry red roof of the historic Mount Washington Hotel. And the skiing’s not exactly lacking: this little mountain knows how to groom its slopes to accentuate the great snow it gets. Above all, Bretton Woods knows how to spread the love to families.
This year, Bretton Woods steps up its game with a new base-to-summit eight-person gondy. There’s more to come too, including a giant addition to the famed Mount Washington Hotel.
Come for the…
- FAMILY TRAIL Two Miles Home. This meandering run gives a taste of all that is alpine, including breathtaking views, side jaunts through trees, and great snow. Take it to the Telegraph T-Bar, ride that classic lift to the top, and share a giant $1 chocolate-chip cookie at Mount Stickney Cabin.
- FAT BIKING New this year are bike rentals at the base and a system of dedicated fat-bike trails in Fabyan Fields.