North Country Isolation for a Grande Dame
Even if you can find your way off The Balsams’ 15,000 acres of mountains and meadows, you’ll be hard-pressed to come up with an incentive to do so. This lavish 1866 grand resort hotel sits on a remarkably isolated spot 12 miles south of the Canadian border, amid a landscape its owners describe as “the Switzerland of America,” on the banks of Lake Gloriette, in a U-shaped mountain pass surrounded by 800-foot cliffs.
The trek to The Balsams’ remote location has stopped no one, it seems, since the rambling 203-room red-roofed classic fills each season. Guests welcome its rigorous old-world decorum and fashionably old-fashioned image, one that encourages guests to adhere to a dress code in the dining room, where dinner is a romantic return to earlier times.
The lunch buffet is more informal, judging from the 100-foot-long table loaded with a bounty and diversity that rivals that of any cruise ship. The hotel’s wraparound verandas further reinforce the impression of being on a luxury liner to nowhere. Countless recreational activities explain The Balsams’ popularity as a family resort, and three-generation vacations are commonplace.
Summer promises 65 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking and 27 holes of golf, no less impressive than the winter season’s 250 inches of snow covering 95 kilometers of cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails, and three lifts serving sixteen downhill trails. For spectacular foliage viewing, you needn’t even leave your room, much less the grounds, especially if you’ve booked into the Tower Suite, whose 360-degree panorama is hard to beat.