GREEN’S GRANT — A throng of people gathered Wednesday outside The Glen House at the foot of Mount Washington, where a ribbon-cutting was held by the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce to herald the opening day of the long-awaited hotel.
“It’s really striking me about how
historic this moment is,” said Howie Wemyss, general manager of Great Glen Trails and the Mt. Washington Auto Road, as he stood in front of the 68-room hostelry, which was built on the site of four previous Glen Houses that went all the way back to 1852.
This one is so new that the beige and white exterior paint was barely dry, and workmen were still on site, pausing to watch as a large, red ribbon was cut by Wemyss with a pair of giant scissors that WMV Chamber Executive Director Janice Crawford conveniently produced.
Wemyss told the 80 or so spectators: “I’m going to attempt to get through this unprepared statement without breaking down. This is an incredible day for us here at the Glen as we open The Glen House.”
He reflected that “it’s been over 50 years since we’ve had a Glen House on the property. So that’s far too long. I think we’re going to make up for it with this Glen House.”
He predicted that the new hotel will be “spectacularly successful.” Part of that, Wemyss told the crowd, “you’ve shown me right here. The ribbon cutting ceremonies, the soft openings, don’t often gather a lot of people, and yet look at the nice crowd we’ve gathered here.”
He then introduced the people standing next to him as being “responsible for what you see behind us here and around us”: Rolf Biggers, principal architect at BMA Architects of Amherst; Janet Harkins, lead designer, of Stibler Associates, Manchester; and construction manager Peter Middleton of Martini Northern, “who happens to be the grandson of legendary Joe Dodge of the mountains, so it’s kind of fun to have that historical connection,” Wemyss said.
He then presented General Manager Tom Spaulding.
“When we started to put the hotel together, we were smart enough to realize we didn’t know how to run a hotel,” said Wemyss, adding that they chose Olympia Hotel Management out of Portland, Maine. “And I can tell you we’ve been absolutely thrilled with them.
“Tom was working for them down at the Hampton Inn in North Conway, so it was great to be able to pull him,” Wemyss said. “I kind of knew since we were able to get someone so local to the valley and who was so well-respected in the valley, he would also pull some of the key people he knew to be team members here, so that’s happened.
“We’re opening with a very good staff, almost a complete staff, which at this time of year, hiring people almost in the middle of the summer, people were really worrying we were going to have a struggle,” Wemyss said.
“But it’s been good. Partly because of this beautiful new facility. But largely because of Tom and his reputation, I believe.”
Spaulding noted that he and his employees had their first morning huddle before everyone arrived. “And we talked about where we started and where we are today, and the fact we are now a part of history.”
He said the conversation got emotional.
“Like Howie, I was trying not to cry,” Spaulding said. “But we have the most amazing team, and the most amazing location.”
He concluded by saying he has the greatest job in the world. “For 35 years, I’ve done nothing but entertain a lot of people. I just always have a big house with a lot of bedrooms.” That was greeted with a ripple of laughter, after which Spaulding said: “So on behalf of the staff and management, the owners and Olympia Hotel Management, welcome to The Glen House and thank you so much for coming.”
Chuck Henderson, liaison for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen then read a letter of congratulations from the senator.
“It is especially encouraging to see The Glen House commit to geothermal technology and extensive energy conservation and efficiency measures that will reduce the operating costs and celebrate environmental sustainability,” Shaheen noted.
Finally, it was ready for the big moment.
After the ribbon was cut, all were invited inside for lemonade and chocolate-chip cookies. Tours were led of the hotel, including the outdoor deck with its firepit; the expansive bar area; and the carpeted 68-seat restaurant, The Notch Grille.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all available. It’s a family-friendly menu with such usual offerings as pancakes and eggs for breakfast, but as a nod to the healthy setting, steel-cut oatmeal, avocado toast, cold smoked salmon and root veggie and apple hash are also available on the rise-and-shine menu (prices range from $3 for toast and jam to $14 for steak and eggs).
Likewise the lunch and dinner menus offer a range of prices and sizes. “Share snacks” range from items like tomato pesto flatbread ($7) and crabcakes ($9) to chicken tenders and shrimp cocktail (both $8). For heartier appetites there are seared scallops ($21) and a flat iron steak with chimichurri marinade ($22). The usual sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads are also featured at prices that average around $10.
The tour also extended to the guest rooms, which come in four categories: Standard, Classic, Mountainview and Premium.
According to Guest Services Manager Jayme Monica, there is a grand opening special in effect through the end of Saturday, Sept. 15, with 25 percent off regular rates for any stay through the end of 2018.
To reserve, go to theglenhouse.com or call (603) 466-3420.