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The Christmas Farm Inn was featured in an article on, a blog by AOL Travel . . .

Five steps to a romantic New Hampshire getaway

Put the stress and pressure of the workday behind you. This is exactly what was on my mind a few weeks ago. I needed to get away from the daily grind for a bit, and the back roads of New England were calling. I wanted something quiet, remote and relaxing. New Hampshire came to mind immediately.

It had been a while since my last trip to New Hampshire – close to 20 years since my last visit to the White Mountains. So, I had to reacquaint myself with the local options. In the process of doing so, I found five crucial steps to planning a great romantic getaway to the Granite State.

When you're planning your long weekend (or longer) in New Hampshire (or western Massachusetts, Vermont or Maine), keep the following in mind:

1. Invest some time in picking the right room: for me, this was probably the most important part of planning my getaway. I wanted to find an inn (not a bed and breakfast or a hotel) that had a fireplace and an in-room Jacuzzi. I wouldn't compromise on these criteria ... and I wanted them at less than $200 a night (all in). Since the New England Inns and Resorts Association website allows you to search member properties based on these elements, that's where I went to do my homework and book, finding the Christmas Farm Inn, in Jackson, NH. It wound up being exactly what I was looking for.

2. Remember the New Hampshire state liquor stores: wine is not expensive! The state liquor stores have a wide selection of wines, and they're a bit cheaper (in most cases) than they are in nearby Boston and not-so-nearby New York. Pick up a few bottles, depending on the length of your stay, for in-room enjoyment. Think about it: (a) wine by the fireplace, (b) wine in the Jacuzzi, (c) wine on the deck and (d) wine in bed. This really is a no-brainer.

3. Get a sense of the cuisine ahead of time: if you're visiting northern New Hampshire from a city, be ready for some differences. The restaurants close a lot earlier, especially off season. So, hitting the local restaurant at 10:30 PM just isn't an option – you'll starve! Plan to eat earlier dinners, leaving more time for chilled wine in the Jacuzzi back at your room (there's an upside to everything). While there are some interesting options in the area (such as Wine Thyme in North Conway, NH), upscale alternatives aren't as common as they are in New York or Boston. Be ready to de-prioritize culinary and focus on the "romantic" part of "romantic getaway."

4. Fight the urge to stay in your room: the whole point of a romantic getaway is to enjoy the person you're with ... which sometimes leads to longer mornings in bed and the temptation not to wander too far from the room (hint, hint). Keep the spirit without becoming a hermit by packing a lunch and a bottle of wine before heading over to Rocky Gorge in White Mountain National Forest. Sit on the rocks as the river rushes by, and sip on a glass of Pinot Noir if the air is crisp (Gruener if it isn't). Circle the nearby lake for a bit of privacy; the trail is easy to walk and won't draw as much traffic as Rocky Gorge.

5. Take in a sunset: for a fantastic sunset, head over to Cathedral Ledge. It isn't far from the Conway, NH area, so you won't lose much time to the drive. In summer, the later sunset might leave you scrambling to find dinner afterward, so choose a restaurant that's nearby to make sure you aren't scrounging after enjoying a bit of natural beauty.


Shafer Wins Top Chef Award

chef_of_year2Christmas Farm Inn & Spa Chef, Stan Shafer, was recognized as the Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation on Friday. Mr. Shafer was voted top chef by his peer group of cooking professionals and other members of the White Mountain Chapter of the ACF. Chapter President, Gary Sheldon, presented the award to Shafer, and recognized his contribution to the profession, as well as his culinary skills. As an organization, the ACF sets national standards and benchmarks by which culinary professionals are measured, and provides training and accreditation. Said Sheldon, “Stan Shafer personifies the good traits of a chef dedicated to their profession. He sets high standards for himself and his kitchen.”

Originally from New York State, Shafer has worked in the Mount Washington valley for 9 years, after honorably serving in the U.S. Marines and graduating from the renowned Culinary Institute of America. He has been the head chef at the Christmas Farm Inn & Spa since last May and is working closely with chocolatebaweb textinnkeepers Gary and Sandra Plourde to position the restaurant as a country-style dining experience. He and his team also prepare food for the Cabana, a licensed pool-side bar, the inn tavern, and for weddings and events for up to 200 at the historic Jackson inn. Shafer lives in North Conway with his wife Sara and daughter Caleen.

Shafer says that he has a wide spectrum of culinary influences resulting from his formal training and ongoing curiosity, “I like discovering new ideas and continuously experiment with new recipes. In the last few months, I have worked with our suppliers to source natural and organically grown meats and produce to incorporate into our new menu. Our grass-fed beef has already been a big hit - you can really taste the difference.”

“We are very proud of Stan and congratulate him on his achievement,” said innkeeper, Gary Plourde. “Our guests rave about his cooking and we have a loyal local following.” Plourde believes, “You are what you eat, and we aim to deliver freshly prepared, country comfort food that is healthy for the heart and the wallet. We try to source things locally, where available, and we have gluten and allergen free options available.”