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Atkinson Resort - Warmth and Comfort in NH

The words “warmth” and “resort” don’t, in my experience, tend to come in the same breath. By their nature, resorts offer a multitude of facilities and activities to a multitude of people, and the warmth of a B&B is just not possible. I learned differently last weekend at the Atkinson Resort, barely over the Massachusetts border in Atkinson, New Hampshire.

Never heard of Atkinson? Don’t feel bad – we grew up in a town barely 45 minutes away, and we didn’t know where it was, either. Once we found it, though, we were greeted with the same warmth we are used to at White Mountain B&Bs, and were soon in our suite at the far end of the wide art-lined corridor of the second floor.

Room 108 is a two-room suite, with a refrigerator, bar sink, microwave and Keurig coffee maker. The sitting room was furnished with a sofa and two comfortable arm chairs and a tv console, while the bedroom had a king-sized bed with good reading lights and enough closet space for a month-long stay.

The dining-room-sized table that divided the kitchenette from the large sitting room tempted us to order from room-service and dine in – the full dining room menu is available for delivery.

But we decided to dine in one of the two choices the resort offers for both lunch and dinner, the Stagecoach Grille. We were glad we did, because it gave us a chance to admire the wonderful collection of vintage photos of the local area that decorate the walls, as well as to enjoy the restaurant's warm atmosphere. The open kitchen takes up an entire wall of the bar/pub area, while the quieter dining room that adjoins overlooks the flower-bordered terrace.

The hostess showed us to a cozy corner table and chatted until Christie arrived with menus. After describing the evening’s specials – grilled hoisin-glazed salmon with crab Rangoon and an appetizer of PEI mussels steamed in beer – she told us a bit more about other dishes on the menu, including which ones the chef didn’t dare change for fear of popular outcry.

We ordered, and while we sipped our wine awaiting the arrival of our RI-style calamari appetizer (delicious), the resort manager stopped at our table to say hello and welcome us. This is clearly not your average impersonal resort.

My husband’s frutti de mare was served stacked on a potato cake, with bright green spinach and grilled zucchini slices. My swordfish was on a bed of sprout leaves with a coarse chop of tomato, olive garlic and artichoke hearts. The olive was a bit assertive for the perfectly-cooked sushi-grade swordfish, but it worked, and the artichoke mellowed the mix. The Caesar salad greens were crisp with tender, crunchy croutons, and the spinach salad greens were perfect 9not a mushy one in the bowl) with crisp-fried bacon and sliced raw mushrooms, judiciously dressed.

The next morning we had breakfast in Merrill’s Grill, whose upscale sports-bar atmosphere – live championship golf at St Andrews on two screens, news on the other two – and its location at the turning from the front 9 to the back 9 make it a favorite for the golfers who make up much of the resort’s clientele. Breakfast prices are another reason for its popularity – the most expensive thing on the menu were the eggs Benedict and the Irish Benedict , which substitutes corned beef for the ham.

After breakfast we toured the grounds to find beautiful gardens surrounding a terrace with a pergola and another rock-and-water garden cascading down a hillside. Both are overlooked by the resort’s banquet rooms, which we peeked into – beautifully arranged for weddings. The pergola and a gazebo in the water garden are lovely venues for outdoor weddings.

The 18-hole golf course is the rolling green backdrop for all this, irrigated from their own pond to keep it that way. In winter it becomes a cross-country ski center, but golfers can practice all year in heated bays while golf analysis videos compare their swings to those of the pros. I’m not a golfer, but if I were, I’d play here. Since I don’t, I’ll just enjoy the gardens and stay for dinner.

Contact the Atkinson Resort at 603-362-8700 or through the link below.

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