Though the region is most associated with skiing, snowboarding and other winter pursuits, the New England trio of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont offers a sporting portfolio that leads to diverse options for attendees, ranging from golf and motor racing to minor league and collegiate athletics.
Claims to fame include the first organized ice-hockey game, which many hockey historians say took place in 1883 at the St. Paul’s boarding school in Concord, N.H. Vermont introduced the country’s first ski lift in 1934 and first cross-country ski center in 1968, along with snowboarding in 1977. For golfers, Province Lake Golf Course in Parsonsfield, Maine, which can accommodate groups of up to 250, features an interesting cross-border play: At the fourth hole, golfers drive in Maine and putt in New Hampshire, then do the reverse on the sixth hole.
Whatever your speed, come hit the slopes or take the field at these group-ready winners.
With some 140 courses, many set amid its breathtaking mountains, lakes and coast, the Pine Tree State is a magnet for golfing groups. Dating to 1889, Rockport’s award-winning 178-room Samoset Resort, offering 20,000-plus square feet of conference space for up to 650 attendees, boasts spectacular coastal golf. Featuring seven ocean-side holes and 14 with Atlantic views, the 18-hole championship course includes one of New England’s most challenging finishes.
Set amid the rustic woodlands and rolling hills of central Maine an hour north of Portland, charming Belgrade Lakes Golf Course hosts group outings and customized events.
To the more mountainous west, top-rated Sunday River Golf Club at the Sunday River Resort is dramatically backed by the Mahoosuc Range. The second largest of Maine’s 18 ski resorts behind Sugarloaf, Sunday River’s eight interconnected peaks feature 135 trails and five terrain parks covering 870 acres of developed terrain. The year-round resort offers over 30,000 square feet of flexible meeting space with two resort hotels, the North Peak Lodge and activities including teambuilding.
Back in Portland, Boston Celtics basketball—through the NBA Development League’s Maine Red Claws —is a major play at the landmark 2,717-seat Portland Exposition Building (locally, The Expo), which offers 24,000 square feet of flexible space for sporting and other events.
Granite State groups with the need for speed have a range of top gear opportunities at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, just northeast of the state capital of Concord.
Hosting 100,000-plus people for NASCAR and American Championship Car Racing events, the famed oval is New England’s largest capacity sports venue and boasts New England’s fastest, high-speed banked corner. Along with spectating, groups have multiple paved and unpaved parking lots for events, as well as a variety of programs, including pre-race pit access. Automotive groups can utilize the five-lane Gil Rogers Highway for product testing.
East of Concord in Epping, the rubber also burns at New England Dragway, one of New England’s last remaining dragstrips.
In Concord, the historic Douglas N. Everett Arena flexibly hosts year-round sporting events, expos, tradeshows and other gatherings. Other venerable venues include the recently renovated 1,600-seat John F. Kennedy Memorial Coliseum in Manchester, also home to the 3,000-seat Gill Stadium.
Golfing groups can link up with the magnificently restored 1915 Donald Ross-designed championship course at the 200-room Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods. Offering 30,000 square feet of flexible space, the resort is also home to New Hampshire’s largest ski area.
In coastal Portsmouth, the grand Wentworth by the Sea, A Marriott Hotel & Spa, offers 10,000 square feet of space and memorable oceanfront, Scottish-style golf at the Sea Country Club.
Receiving up to 100 inches in annual snowfall, the Green Mountain State is the winter capital of the East, attracting some 4 million skiers each year to around 17 ski resorts and 30 cross-country touring centers.
Clustered around the Waterbury area in north-central Vermont is the world-class quartet of Sugarbush, Bolton Valley, Mad River Glen and Stowe resorts. Famed for the double-black diamond runs on 4,395-foot Mount Mansfield in Stowe, Vermont’s highest peak offers the 312-room Stowe Mountain Lodge. Featuring mountain vistas, the Lodge’s 12,000 square feet of versatile indoor space is complemented by 30,000 square feet of function space at adjacent Spruce Peak, including the 420-seat Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center.
Also in Stowe, the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum showcases thousands of ski-related archives and artifacts.
Jay Peak, Vermont’s northernmost resort, offers the Hotel Jay and Tram House Lodge, an NHL-size indoor ice arena, and the largest indoor/outdoor waterpark in the Northeast, plus flexible venues for an array of meetings and events.
Central Vermont peaks include Killington, the region’s largest ski and snowboard area with seven mountains. In southern Vermont, group-capable standouts include Mount Snow and Stratton. Running 146 miles, Route 100, “Vermont’s Main Street” or “The Skier’s Highway,” connects most major ski resorts.
Working in a Vermont barn back in 1977, 23-year-old Jake Burton Carpenter adapted the historic technique of snow surfing, or “snurfing,” and created snowboarding. Today, Burlington, Vt.-based Burton Snowboards is the world leader, with tours of the company’s 10,000-square-foot R&D facility available by appointment.
In southwestern Vermont, groups can golf amid the Green Mountains at The Equinox, a Luxury Collection Golf Resort & Spa in Manchester Village, offering 18,000 square feet of meeting space.