Saturday, February 23, 2019

Isn't She Grand? by Kathryn Hills #RomanceGems

Snow swirls hypnotically across the windshield as we pick our way through Crawford Notch. And it strikes me… Isn’t it odd that we never visit this iconic location in good weather? I suppose “good” is the debatable word. After all, these are the White Mountains of New Hampshire in winter where snow is considered white gold.

Toasty-warm during the picturesque drive north (White Mountain National Forest is approximately 3.5 hours from Boston) I can’t help but touch the frosty windows as excitement has me fidgeting. One more turn and the road will widen. Then we’ll see her. Stark white and magnificent, topped with a shiny red roof. Distinct against the bluish-grey of the tallest mountain in the northeast. Our home away from home for a long winter’s weekend—the glorious Mount Washington Hotel!

The Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, NH

This marvel of modern ingenuity for its time (construction finished in 1902) was built by New Hampshire native Joseph Stickney, a gilded-age industrialist who made a fortune in coal and railroads. He spared no expense, from the steal and granite structure to the heating, plumbing, electricity, woodwork, and furnishings. Wealthy visitors flocked from northern cities to behold its grandeur (see the hotel’s link below for more history).

My first visit to the grande dame—now an Omni resort—was for a ghost-hunting/paranormal event in 2016, hosted by Strange Escapes. The founder of this unusual travel company, Amy Bruni, is best known for her role as an investigator and researcher on Syfy channel’s Ghost Hunters. My daughter and I were Amy’s guests on that occasion, along with over one hundred like-minded “escapees,” paranormal enthusiasts, celebrities, researchers, and other authors. The event was exciting, thought provoking, and it marked the beginning of more trips to haunted locations with the group. I highly recommend the experience if you enjoy exploring the unknown in style (see Strange Escapes’ link below).

Since then, I’ve returned to the Mt. Washington Hotel many times with family, friends, and my daughter for another escape. Simply put, we love the place! Yet what about this iconic location entices us and so many others to return? “It’s haunted, you know.” I can’t tell you how many have whispered those words to me. Followed by, “One time, when we were there…” and ghost stories gush forth. Few mention the luxury accommodations or spectacular mountain views first. It’s typically the thrill of other-worldly experiences coupled with the five-star resort. A close encounter with spirit on the way to the slopes or while filling your ice bucket? Yes! However, I’d say it’s more.

The Great Hall

I’ve been lucky enough to reflect while writing in the elegant Great Hall or slouched in a wicker chair in the garden corridor. Two of my “favorite haunts.” For me there is a deep sense of residual history. Feelings...impressions... Pride, joy, sadness, celebration, toil – the essence of past lives. The hotel is haunted, in my opinion, by Princess Carolyn, Joseph Stickney’s widow. But also, by those who have worked there and been guests. Souls who’ve left a mark—good or bad—which imprints on some guests today.

Charles Alling Gifford
One personal experience is the day I met the architect and builder of the Mount Washington Hotel, Charles Alling Gifford. I discovered his handsome countenance in a portrait, hanging in The Gifford Room. Tucked away in a discreet corner on the main floor, the door to his room was closed, yet I felt compelled to sneak in. I stood before him as seconds stretched into long minutes. Charles Gifford left his mark on me that afternoon, inspiring a character in my Time Traveler’s Journey Series. (Allen Whitman, the architect of Highland House) Call me crazy, but it was a profoundly haunting experience when Mr. Gifford stepped beyond the veil to spark a character.

Here’s a bit about Haunting Highland House
Psst…there’s a $0.99 Kindle sale currently on Amazon

She’s looking to escape her man troubles. Instead, she finds the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem. He’s dead.

Living in a haunted house and uncovering a gateway in time were not in the job description when Samantha Merrill agreed to be the property manager of Highland House. Old photos of the reclusive master of the manor captivate her, yet she’s terrified when he appears out of nowhere. How can Robert Pennington be making love to her by the parlor fireplace when he died over a century ago? Robert Pennington is a powerful industrialist charged with caring for an ailing father, a meddling mother, and two wayward siblings.

Weary of his burdens, he longs for change. Is he ready for a woman from the future? His disciplined world turns upside down when the mysterious Samantha Merrill crashes his sister’s birthday ball. He is wildly attracted to this intriguing beauty, but is it magic or mischief motivating her? When Sam vanishes before his eyes, he knows only one thing for certain. He wants her back.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tale of my haunted love affair with one of New Hampshire’s grandest hotels. Maybe you have your own ghost story? I’d love to hear from you. And a great big thank you for visiting my first blog post with these awesome Romance Gems!

~Kathryn~

To learn more about me and my books, visit my website

Sources & Links

The Omni Mount Washington Hotel

Strange Escapes

YouTube of the Strange Escapes 2016 Mt. Washington Hotel event

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32 comments:

  1. I don't have the guts to stay in a haunted resort, but it really is a stunning place - judging by the hall pic!

    The cover and the blurb for your book couldn't be better - I'll add to my TBR list!


    My contact info: adissidente [at] gmail.com

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    1. Thank you, Iris! So glad you enjoyed my first post! I've had some amazing experiences at the Mt. Washington. And I'll let you in on a secret... The Bretton Arms Inn, which is also part of the resort, is often times more active than the main building. I'll share some cool pics over on my author Facebook page within the next few days if you're interested.

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    1. K stayed there for a weekend last summer. I could see how Steven King was inspired to write one of his best. I didn't have any spooky happenings there, but I did in Gettysburg, PA. At Farnsworth Inn my towel was moved from one place to another during my shower. Marching in the corridor at 4 am woke me up. The bed shook from the force of their feet. And, the help leaves at 9 pm. You get a key to the outside door when you check in.

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  3. I've never stayed in the Mt. Washington Hotel but my dad had a condo right opposite it on Lake Winnepesaukee. I love how this place inspired a character, and of course I love your book Haunting Highland House! The twists and turns left me breathless!!

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    1. High praise, indeed, coming from a fellow Gem! Thank you, Kari! The White Mountains and Lakes Region of New Hampshire are beyond beautiful.

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  4. It's such a beautiful place. Wish I'd been there for the most recent Strange Escapes event, but maybe next time. You know I love haunted locations as much as you do! Terrific post, Kathy. :)

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    1. Thank you, Judith! Strange Escapes puts on a great event. BUT, you live and work in Salem, a hotbed of haunting so to speak. Some joint investigating is in our future, I'm quite certain. *grin*

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  5. I love getting 'the vibe' in old buildings from those who lived in previous times. You described it perfectly. There is one of the founding families' homes in town, donated to the city with original furnishings, art, books, even clothing. I love going through it. People have seen the daughter, Kathleen, on many occasions. I keep hoping she'll grace me with her presence. I sure feel her there. Can't wait to read the book.

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    1. Ooooo... LOVE the place you're describing, Kathleen! You'll have to fill me in on the location. Furnishings, personal items...those things often hold a residual energy that some can pick up on. And it's fascinating when you consider what can come from shopping at places like antique shops. I share a story on my website (Author Notes) about a haunting experience I had at one of my favorite shops. You never quite know what you're taking home. *wink*

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  6. Hi, I remember when NHRWA had our conference there, and I did the tour and learned about the ghost that haunts the MT. Washington. I am also lucky enough to have read one of your books! Thanks so much.

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    1. Thank you, Nora! That was before I joined NHRWA, but I have heard "haunting" stories from some who attended. Wouldn't it be fun to go back there as a writer's group?!!

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  7. Lovely photos and such an evocative post. Makes me want to make a reservation.

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    1. Hahaha... Definitely put this grand lady on your bucket list, Joan! She's gorgeous any time of the year. :)

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  8. It really is beautiful, inside and out.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  9. I have seen it but never stayed there. I stayed in a hotel in Europe that was haunted but never saw anything.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

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    1. Isn't that just the way things go, Debby?! Even when investigating a notoriously haunted location you can turn your head and miss something. AND, sometimes you just want to stay in a place and NOT be haunted! I recall on one trip, after a long, spooky night, I just wanted to sleep. The light above my bed started flickering wildly. "Oh, come on!" I cried, causing my roommate to burst into hysterics. Turns out it was faulty wiring. Haunting debunked! LOL

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  10. I love the hall picture. Must be a stunning place.
    crossnstitch2 at aol dot com

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    1. It really is, Karen! That pic was taken just before Christmas, when the hotel is EXTRA pretty! I've seen weddings there on several occasions, and had the amazing experience of attending a masquerade ball there. Unbelievable. Thanks for reading!

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  11. I love haunted places and your book sounds wonderful!

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    1. Thank you, Karen! As a teaser I'll add that Haunting Highland House was inspired by a real location - a Victorian-era mansion on Cape Cod. Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA is open to the public and a must-see place in my book!

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  12. I loved the post and book now on my TBR list. I have gone to haunted places but never sensed anyone but my friend did

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    1. Hi, Lucy, great to meet you! I hope you enjoy reading about my favorite haunted house! "Sensing" comes in many forms, so you never know. I personally believe we all have abilities, though some are WAY better at it. It's also like a muscle - the more you use it, the more it works well. I've learned to trust certain "feelings or impressions" that I once overlooked. You'll have to share you and your friend's haunting tales with me someday. I LOVE hearing a good ghost story over on my Facebook page!

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  13. Sounds like an interesting book.

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  14. Thanks, jean602! I do LOVE a ghost story, especially one centered on a magnificent house. Thanks for reading!

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  15. I've lived in a few haunted houses so I'm sure I could stay in a haunted resort, it could be fun!

    MsRedK at aol dot com

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  16. This one is great fun, Cindi! I've stayed in a couple that were not. Total side note... I love the spelling of your name! (writer's brain) :)

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  17. Diane Dustin ItasakaMarch 16, 2019 at 9:17 AM

    I occasionally revisit "Highland House" through your writing because I don't want to let go of any of the characters! Having lived in a haunted house in Maine, and not been the one with experiences, I live through yours. Keep sharing, Kathryn.

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  18. Thank you, Diane! I'm so glad you enjoy my favorite haunted house! I hang on to characters too, and I often revisit books I love. I'm delighted Haunting Highland House made your go-to list. :D

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