Bethel Inn makes it easy

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Grand dames come and go, but the Bethel Inn and Spa keeps chugging along. Sister grand resorts—The Mount Washington, in Bretton Woods, N.H., and The Balsams, in Dixville Notch, N.H.—put the emphasis on grand and both have undergone major renovations in recent years that have not only increased their face appeal, but also their prices.

The Bethel Inn occupies a setting right out of a Currier & Ives print. It’s smack downtown, on the common, in Bethel, Maine, with the rolling summits of the White Mountains as a backdrop. Sure, the inn has had renovations and upgrades over the years, but it retains the classic lines, decor, and casualness of a traditional country inn. It hasn’t opted for over-the-top luxury, but it hasn’t skimped on the nicities, either.

The Bethel Inn retains the bones of a grand resort hotel and offers many of the services — indoor pool, health and fitness facility, spa services, golf course, cross-county skiing, dining room and tavern, etc.—but, and here’s the good part, it keeps prices reasonable, as resorts go, especially when it comes to packages.

Consider this: Bed and breakfast plans begin around $70 pp, add dinner for about $99 per person, substite skiing at Sunday River for meals for $99 pp and up. No, not a give-away, but for a nice inn experience in lovely Bethel, quite a deal.

How easy? The inn offers plenty of components to mix and match the program that fits your needs. A free shuttle service connects the resort to Sunday River. The inn is steps from Bethel’s Main Street, with its handful of restaurants and shops. And yeah, there’s always the fitness center and the cross-country trails. Or, if you book a deluxe room in the main inn, there’s likely a fireplace in the room.

The inn’s dining rooms — one fine dining, the other tavern fare — won’t knock a foodie’s socks off, but they will fill you with good food done well. No wow factor, but no wow price, either. My Mediterranean chicken in the tavern held no surprises, but it was quite good; I finished almost every bite. Service is efficient and friendly.

I think what I like best about this place is that it tickles my nostaligia bone. It reminds me of why I love country inns — not the fancy-schmancy, overly decorated, how-many-pillows-can-you-fit-on-the-bed type, but the ones that ease you into relaxing before you know it. Gotta like that.