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The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel-Combining History With Romance Dixville Notch, New Hampshire

By Norm and Lily Goldman
Photographs by Lily Goldman

If you are familiar with American election traditions, you know that the residents of the tiny hamlet of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire are the first in the nation to be permitted to cast their votes and announce their vote totals every four years for the President of the USA. The vote takes place at midnight in the Ballot Room of The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel. In fact, just before midnight, a head count is taken to be certain that everyone who is eligible is present. There is a private voting both built for each voter, and when the hands of the clock strike midnight, all voters simultaneously fill out and cast their votes.

Natural Beauty
Natural Beauty
The choice of The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel, which by the way is included in the National Register of Historic Places, is quite befitting, since this grand dame hotel can retrace its beginnings to one of the earliest families in New Hampshire, Colonel Timothy Dix, who settled the land in 1807. The "Dix House", which is the forerunner to the present resort, was built by George Parsons, and in 1875 celebrated its formal opening with a modest fifty-room summer inn. From its very beginnings and even today, the inn provided its guests with the American plan, whereby you could count on three great daily meals, recreation and entertainment.

It was Henry Hale who in 1895 purchased the Dix House and renamed it The Balsams. Quite noteworthy is that Henry was also the inventor of the reversible pullman seat for railroad cars, and with his great wealth was able to add a great deal to the hotel by purchasing adjacent land, even opening up a 6-hole golf course, that has evolved into the 18-hole Donald Ross Panorama Course.

One of the motivating factors for the extensive expansion of the resort that had transpired during the early part of the last century was the popularity of mountain resorts among affluent city dwellers. It was not only golf that attracted these guests to The Balsams, but also the private baths and steam heat. Henry was also very forward-looking and he even operated horseless carriages in 1907 to pick up guests and transport them from and to the Colebrook rail station. Unfortunately, for Henry, the First World War and subsequent years had taken its toll, and due to his declining wealth he was forced to sell the hotel. After Henry's ownership, the hotel had passed through many hands, eventually yielding to bankruptcy in 1954. Luckily, it sprung to life once again in 1966 when a ski area was built adjacent to the hotel and in 1971 a new management team, that still survives today, assumed its operations.

Frost on the Flowers
Frost on Flowers
Surrounded by the natural beauty of its 15,000 private acres, the resort captures the essence of the beauty of New Hampshire, with its magnificent White Mountains, particularly during the summer and winter seasons when most guests choose to visit. We had the good fortune to visit the resort in early October, when unpredictable fall weather enabled us to enjoy a morning frost that covered the flora surrounding the resort. The result, as you can well imagine, was incredibly dramatic! My wife Lily, with her artist eye, could not wait to snap as many photos as she could, capturing this precious moment, which only endured until the late morning hours.

Renowned for its diverse choice of activities, the resort touts that there are more things for guests to do than time to do them. Summer at the Balsams provides sports fanciers with 27 holes of golf, tennis, heated swimming pool and a private lake, boating and fishing, annotated trail systems for natures lovers with ample walking, hiking, climbing and mountain biking, a natural history program with guided tours, entertainment, lectures, parlour games, concerts, movies, and night-club shows.

Frozen Florals
Frozen Florals
Winter similarly renders many of the same activities together with a full array of winter sports and activities from mid-December to mid-March.

Cozy guest rooms each showcasing their own décor, intimacy and comfort create the ideal romantic ambiance for those seeking something special that will enhance the rekindling of amorous feelings. Our own guest room commanded a view over the mountains and provided us with the utmost in privacy and space - something we treasure and value when we seek out a romantic destination.

If it was the morning buffet breakfast, afternoon lunch, or the evening dinner, we were well assured of having hearty and savoury meals, as well as ample fuel to keep us going throughout the day. Something that was particularly laudable was that the resort's service was friendly, warm and efficient, notwithstanding that a convention had been taking place at the time we visited in early fall. Apropos, it should be mentioned, the hotel only accepts conventions during the slower fall season.

Romantic couples choosing to stay at this historic inn will not be disappointed when they discover that they have found a real prize in the middle of the White Mountains where they can pursue their own special pleasure and experience- the best of many worlds.

Additional Information
The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel
Dixville Notch, New Hampshire
Tel: 1-800-255-0600
In New Hampshire: 1-800-255-0800



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