By: John Koziol, Union Leader
The Omni Mount Washington Resort has broken ground on what will be the state’s only eight-person gondola and recently received approval to significantly expand the iconic, red-roofed grand hotel.
The four-story addition to the Omni Mount Washington Hotel will increase the number of rooms from 200 to 268. No firm date has been set for construction, resort officials said.
It will be built off the existing spa and include a courtyard. The gondola is scheduled to open for the 2018 ski season, while the a restaurant, which will effectively double the size of the existing Latitude 44° eatery, is expected to open in summer 2019.
Resort officials have said the aim of the gondola is to make Bretton Woods, which is comprised of three peaks in the Rosebrook Range and offers expansive views of the White Mountains, a premier wedding/gathering venue.
Three resort executives sat down for an interview last Wednesday at the Bretton Woods Base Lodge, outside of which site work had started for the gondola. They included Joshua DeBottis, named general manager earlier this year; Craig Clemmer, director of sales and marketing; and Chris Ellms, director of ski operations.
When both the gondola and restaurant are complete, they will represent “a nothing-like-it experience” for guests, said Ellms, adding that the gondola will actually come into the restaurant itself.
Running at 1,200 feet per minute, the gondola will get people up or down in about five minutes, said DeBottis. It is to be built by Austrian-Swiss Doppelmayr Garaventa Group.
“The views are spectacular and leave you speechless,” DeBottis said.
The gondola at Bretton Woods will be the third at a New Hampshire ski area, joining Loon Mountain and Wildcat Mountain, both of whose gondolas carry four passengers. A gondola has also been proposed as part of the redevelopment of The Balsams in Dixville. Cannon Mountain operates an aerial tramway that has two cars, each capable of holding 80 people.
At present, less than 20 percent of skiers/snowboarders stay at the resort, said Ellms, which includes the main hotel as well as the 34-room Bretton Arms and The Lodge at Bretton Woods, which has 50 rooms.
Although the site plan has been approved by the Carroll County Planning Board, DeBottis stressed that the multimillion dollar hotel expansion is “still evolving.”
Michael Hogan, chairman of the Carroll County Planning Board, hailed the improvements Friday, noting that “by expanding the hotel with more rooms and the ski area, it just hopefully will promote the town where other business spring off of that.”
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