New England this time of year is a wonderful place for a long weekend break with the family — the smell of freshly cut Christmas trees; quaint historic towns hosting Christmas parades; ice skating on local ponds followed by hot chocolate; brisk walks along the rocky seashore with a view to lighthouses in the distance; and beautiful Christmas lights adorning every street corner.
The general joy of the season is in full swing in this part of America, particularly in New Castle, New Hampshire, where Wentworth by the Sea celebrates the season by welcoming families to its spacious, cozy rooms and throwing elegant and festive holiday brunches. While it’s a luxurious escape any time of year, if you are looking for a place to spend the holidays with your family, Wentworth by the Sea is an excellent choice.
Illuminated through and through with festive lights, Christmas trees, fresh holly and whimsical decorations that the kids never tire of, Wentworth by the Sea goes above and beyond to transform its beautiful spaces into a winter wonderland over the holidays. My children walked the halls and public spaces of the hotel’s first floor dozens of times, taking in the many decorations that include a massive, freshly-baked gingerbread house (which took five full days to make), an upside-down Christmas tree, a mailbox for letters to Santa, snowmen, a life-size polar bear, train sets, elves, Rudolph, oversized ornaments, Santas, giant nutcrackers and much, much more.
All of these decorations were in place upon our late November arrival and truly kicked off the holiday season for our family. The hotel staff was joyful and kind, adding to the warm ambiance of our getaway.
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Wentworth by the Sea offers numerous room options that are great for families, including standard deluxe rooms (with a king bed or two queens) and grand king suites (with king bed in a separate bedroom, plus sleeper sofa in the living room area) in the historic hotel building.
The real magic for family accommodations, however, lies in the bi-level, two-bedroom marina suites, located directly on the marina and next to the outdoor pool. Bar none, this was the largest hotel accommodation we’ve ever stayed in, and it was fantastic. There is plenty of space for everyone and parents can even enjoy a good amount of privacy. The 18 luxurious suites are the newest addition to the resort and offer 1,000 square feet of living space, including separate bedrooms, full kitchen, dining/sitting area, private balcony and two full marble baths.
The suites are equipped with a gas fireplace, full kitchen with microwave/convection oven, stovetop and full-size refrigerator; a dining room with seating for four; and a patio with marina and ocean views. The master bedroom has a king-size bed and a luxurious bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub, double vanity and separate shower.
Stylistically, the rooms are modern, clean and fresh. They are decorated in blues and whites and adorned with decorative maps, anchors and boats that are emblematic of extended getaways in coastal New England.
The hotel’s SALT Kitchen & Bar is one of the top-ranked restaurants in this area. The seasonal menu is crafted with prime ingredients fresh from the sea and garden, as well as house-made pasta, freshly-baked goods and prime cuts of meet. The restaurant is upscale but also family-friendly. My husband feasted on a tomahawk ribeye, while I opted for short rib pappardelle with mushrooms and kale. The kids’ menu is rich with options, including grilled chicken, flatbreads and burgers.
While not inexpensive, SALT is a definitely a worthwhile splurge during your time at Wentworth. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner year-round, it also hosts the buffet each morning. With an array of freshly baked breads and pastries; a fruit, yogurt, waffle and cereal bar; and hot items such as eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon and more, the buffet is great for families and what you would expect from a hotel of this caliber. Families can also choose from the à la carte breakfast menu.
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Wentworth offers a more casual dining spot with a bistro-style menu in Latitudes Waterfront Restaurant. It closes for the winter season, but would be a great family dining spot during spring, summer or early fall visits.
The real draw of Wentworth dining during the holidays is its exquisite, family-focused Winter Wonderland Brunch, which runs every Sunday from 10a to 3p, December 2 to 23. The brunch is held in the grand ballroom and offers a phenomenal array of food, from a raw bar to crab and fontina panini, oven-roasted Maine chicken, holiday stuffing, prime rib, a beautiful array of salads and charcuterie, a dessert table to die for, mimosas and much more. During the brunch, kids can share their holiday wishes with Santa and meet Dickens the Reindog in a very relaxed environment (bonus: no waiting in line). The beauty of this brunch is that once the kids are full, they can wander the ballroom and first floor corridor to admire the ornate, festive decorations while adults go back for seconds and thirds, kick back a little and just take it all in.
Kids will love the chance to enjoy the large heated pool and adjacent whirlpool during the winter season. Wentworth also has an outdoor pool that is ideal for families during a summer stay. The hotel offers a tennis court, a phenomenal spa with a full spa menu, an exercise studio and golf at the nearby Wentworth Country Club. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, the Wentworth by the Sea Marina provides charters for day sails, harbor cruises, deep sea-fishing excursions and other aquatic adventures.
Wentworth by the Sea lies on New Castle Island along the New Hampshire coast. Just eight minutes south of the hotel you’ll find Odiorne Point State Park, a 135-acre seaside park that is home to the Seacoast Science Center, a wooded picnic grove, grassy fields, a great playground and miles of walking trails. Our kids adored the science center with its touch pools and interesting aquatic life, including seahorses, calico lobsters, small sharks and moon jellies. They also enjoyed lighthouse-spotting from the park’s viewfinders, letting out energy at the playground and running along the beach to find beautiful rocks and “gems.”
An eight-minute drive from Wentworth is the charming, historic town of Portsmouth. With its cafes, excellent restaurants, boutiques, riverside parks and beautiful churches, it is easily walkable and makes for a nice afternoon out. Located in town is Strawbery Banke, a 10-acre living history museum with 17th- and 18th-century houses where costumed staff demonstrate traditional crafts. During the winter season, the museum is also home to an outdoor ice rink on Puddle Duck Pond. Our family loved this activity, and warmed up post-skate with hot chocolate and lunch at the Museum’s Fig Tree Kitchen Cafe.
For those looking to explore farther north, Maine is just across the bridge from Portsmouth. With that kind of accessibility, you can’t not go!
Editor’s Note: Loren was hosted by Wentworth by the Sea in order to review the property. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Loren Braunohler.
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