History of New Englands's "Grand" Hotels
At the beginning of the 20th century greater New England had more than 400 "Grand" Hotels. These huge hotels welcomed guests arriving by boat, carriage but mostly by train. There were hundreds of railway stations scattered throughout New England where guests would arrive and be met by the hotel's carriages and driven to the front door of the hotel. In those days guests would stay for a week or more and many would stay for a month or longer. The grand hotels were designed to be all-inclusive where you would have all three of your meals, afternoon tea, and all of your activities were right there or nearby. Depending on the season your activities included golf, tennis, various water sports, skiing, cross-country, etc. In the case of golf, many of the courses were constructed in the early 1900's, and were designed by the most famous and prolific course architect of the era, Donald Ross. In fact, it is hard to play several rounds of golf in New England without at least one of the courses being a Ross design. For various reasons, but predominantly due to the advent of the automobile, these grand hotels began to disappear from the landscape. Today, only a few of these truly grand hotels remain. Some of these would include The Mt. Washington Hotel, The Sagamore, The Mountain View Grand Hotel, The Balsams (currently closed for restoration), The Equinox (Starwood Luxury Collection), and The Wentworth by the Sea.
History of Wentworth by the Sea
The Wentworth, first constructed in 1874, almost didn't survive to greet guests traveling today to stay in a luxurious Marriott property. After years of hardship and a declining number of guests, the hotel was closed in 1982. It sat vacant for years and began to show serious signs of decay and neglect. It was about to meet its finally fate with the wrecking ball when a group of preservationists got involved to develop a plan to save the Grand Hotel. Along came a company called Ocean Properties who purchased the property and developed a plan to enlarge and restore the property back to its original grandeur. This group spent six years and $30 million to restore it. The work was meticulously carried out down to the smallest detail. The Wentworth reopened its doors in 2002 and has been delighting guests ever since. The owners of this Marriott property, Ocean Properties, own and operate approximately 125 hotels (including a number of Marriott and non-Marriott properties) in a number of states.
Description of the hotel
The Wentworth is conveniently located along the ocean in New Castle, NH. If you so choose, you can arrive on your yacht and dock in the 150 slip marina (independently owned) at the foot of the hotel. During the summer months there is an outdoor heated pool along the water and a nice restaurant, Latitudes. Latitudes also offers a rooftop deck for drinks and dining. The hotel has a relationship with the nearby private Wentworth by the Sea CC, so the golfers among us can arrange a leisurely round on this old seaside course. The hotel also features tennis, an indoor pool and full spa. This property is as close to a resort as you can get without being called a resort. The best part is that the parking is free and there are no resort, destination or amenity fees!
This being an older property, the room sizes and layouts can vary a bit. However, in all the years we've stayed there we have never had a bad room. In fact, as an LTP we usually get upgraded to a two room, two full bath suite. They have several of these suites which also include a fireplace in the living room and radiant heat in the floors of the bathrooms. There are also three two-story suites located in each of the hotel's three towers. We have also stayed in those suites which is a lot of fun. The hotel does have a club lounge, but it is closed during the winter months. Instead, you receive a breakfast voucher to the main restaurant. Their bar, lounge and restaurant, called The Salt, is superb. The bar seats about a dozen folks, and the lounge seats another 40. Their hand-crafted cocktails are terrific and they have a number of sharable appetizers such as the farmer cheese and meat board which I would highly recommend. The adjoining dining room is elegant, without being over the top, and the menu and food is terrific. We have had breakfast and dinner there and have never been disappointed. This past week during our stay it was NH restaurant week. As such, you could either order from the menu or go with a prix fix, which we did. My meal included a starter of fried oysters, an entree of branzino, which is a delicate European bass, finished off with a rhubarb tart. Delicious! The dining room also offers a private wine room that seats up to about 12 if you are hosting a small gathering.
As previously mentioned, the Wentworth is located in New Castle, NH which borders Portsmouth, NH a fun place to check out. New Castle is 1 hour 15 minutes north of Boston, 1 hour south of Portland, ME and 1 hour away from Lake Winnipesaukee (NH's largest lake playground) and the rest of the Lakes Region. For the shoppers in the group, Freeport, ME, the outlet capital of New England (this is where LL Bean's company store is located) is only 15 minutes further up the road from Portland (so shop till you drop).
We have stayed at the Wentworth more than 15 times over the years usually for one night staycations. Each time we checkout our discussion on the way home is when can we make our next visit...Soon I hope! Enjoy!
Wentworth by the Sea.
Lounge and bar.
Fireplace in the living room of the two room, two bath suite.