Saturday, January 28, 2023

A few weeks ago, my wife and I and our youngest son were privileged to be able to drive to Bethlehem, New Hampshire, and spend a Shabbat at the deluxe Arlington Hotel. The Arlington Hotel that I fuzzily remembered from my childhood as a place where my family picked up kosher food on a summer vacation to the area over 35 years ago is no more. Today, the Arlington is a luxury, year-round, boutique hotel catering almost exclusively to the kosher and Orthodox vacationer.

Situated in the beautiful White Mountains, the new Arlington Hotel is a modern three-story building with a large, expansive, modern, high-ceilinged lobby in which we spent a lot of time over the weekend. As it turns out, the Arlington Hotel is run by the same family that ran it decades ago. Our friendly and affable host Joel Strulovic told me he had grown up there. He also noted that it was his longtime dream to create a special vacation place for Jews from all over the religious spectrum to come and spend a wonderful quality Shabbat with family. I think he has achieved his dream with the Arlington Hotel.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon after a six-hour drive from Teaneck, pretty tired but excited about being away. We had read a number of nice articles since the hotel opened in the past year and a half or so, and had seen the ads about the Arlington in The Jewish Link and other publications, so we thought we knew what to expect. The hotel did not disappoint at all, and the large suite we had with a small kitchenette—every room in the hotel is a suite—was spacious and well appointed.

The indoor pool and hot tub areas had separate swimming hours, so my son and I managed to enjoy a nice pre-Shabbat swim and soak. The hotel was also clearly designed with large families and young children in mind with a large and well-equipped playroom with air hockey table, pool table, a small rock-climbing wall, and other kid-friendly amenities.

The food at every meal was superb and the presentation was outstanding. We were impressed at the thoughtfulness of the staff and kitchen. On Friday at 5 p.m. we were served salad, potato kugel and cholent to tide us all over until the full meal later. During the meals, a number of the guest families started up beautiful niggunim and zemirot and a mini-tish took place. Perhaps the highlight for everyone in our family and the friends we were with was the wonderful late-night dairy melava malka served at close to midnight that had pasta stations, fresh pizza in a few varieties and great salads. We all ate way too much but didn’t regret it then...only a few hours after.

One of the highlights of the dining experience in the airy, sunlit dining room was the outdoor area where families could eat their meals outdoors on a beautiful deck. Every family wanted to have a chance to sit and eat outside, but alas not everyone was able to. Definitely ask to sit outside in advance if you can!

The guests there on our weekend were a nice mix of chasidish, yeshivish and Modern Orthodox families from all over the tri-state area and as far as away as Montreal. There were a number of families and couples from northern New Jersey, including two couples from Teaneck (special mention and shout-out to Murray and Renee Schneier of Teaneck who we enjoyed spending time with!). There was even a family from Montreal, celebrating the 70th birthday of their patriarch, and since my wife is from Montreal, she enjoyed reconnecting with them.

As it turns out, there are Jews who own or rent summer homes in the area and daven at the Arlington or at the Satmar shul/minyan only a few hundred feet away from the hotel. One such notable summer guest turned out to be the rosh mesivta of the Rambam Yeshiva in the Five Towns, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, who has had a summer home there for many years, and he gave two shiurim to the guests. I caught the second one and left thoroughly impressed. Inveterate shmoozer that I am, I also had the chance to learn about his wide-ranging efforts to prevent a convention center from being built in Vilna/Vilnius over the old Jewish cemetery. (Stay tuned for more info on this topic in future editions of The Jewish Link!)

Our wonderful Shabbat was enhanced by the presence of our friends from Sharon, Massachusetts—Adam and Amy Goldman and two of their children. We all enjoyed the unique and special Shabbat atmosphere together and we were all sad to leave when it was over.

There is so much to do near the hotel for all ages—hiking, biking, ziplining, boating, spelunking, fishing, cable cars, alpine slides, train rides, miniature golf and more. I can go on and on. My wife and I especially enjoyed our pre-Shabbat trip to the quaint nearby town of Littleton, with its covered bridge in the center of the town and unique shops like Chutters, which boasts the World’s Longest Candy Counter at 112 feet (many of the candies were kosher).

All in all, it was a wonderful luxury Shabbat experience and we are sure nearly anyone would feel the same way as we did. The Arlington Hotel still has suites open at the end of August and you can visit their site at www.arlingtonhotelnh.com or call them at 603-869-7777. Please mention that you read about the Arlington experience here in The Jewish Link.

 By Moshe Kinderlehrer


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