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Major break at Rosebrook Water Co. has Grande Dame scrambling

May 19, 2010
BRETTON WOODS — A blown pipe and major water break in the Rosebrook Water Company's pump house on Tuesday, May 11, kept employees hopping for nearly 48 hours at the Mt. Washington Hotel. The pump house is off Route 302 East and the break occurred in the wee hours of the morning, according to Kolin Bailey of Lancaster, who serves as the Director of Engineering for Omni Mount Washington Resort.

An elbow joint on the pump heads, already slated for replacement later in the week, burst at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday, said hotel spokesman Craig Clemmer. The alarm and sprinkler system set off about half-an-hour later at the Nordic and Golf Center.

By about 4 a.m., the Rosebrook Water Co.'s entire 600,000 gallons of stored water was entirely depleted.

This lack of water affected every facility in the valley — the iconic Mount Washington Hotel, the Bretton Woods Ski Area, private homes, Fabyan's, Restaurant, and the Omni Bretton Arms Inn — with the exception of The Lodge at Bretton Woods, which has its own private well to serve the 50-room two-story motel.

Guests who were not associated with a business conference were relocated to The Lodge for free overnight stays. A big complimentary barbeque and wine bar, as well as s'mores cooked over the grille, were offered that evening to all the displaced guests. Everyone had such a good time, Mr. Clemmer reported, that several guests, unexpectedly, rated their stay as a "10" on an in-house electronic evaluation form.

Once the severity of the water break was fully understood, Omni Mount Washington Hotel's group sales manager Jackie Goodhart immediately moved into high gear and alerted Primex — the business conference group that had signed up for 70 guest rooms — to exactly what had happened, Mr. Clemmer explained.

A call to general manager Chris Diego at the Mountain View Grand (MVG) established that they had ample space to accommodate a conference, including serving the agreed-upon menus that the group had already selected.

"This is the time of year — considered a group sales month — in which a hotel like ours is apt to either be full or very nearly empty," Mr. Clemmer said. "Fortunately for us, the MVG had sufficient available space, including the kind of guest rooms that they had been promised by the Omni Mount Washington. They acted as very good neighbors."

Lots of phone calls and e-mails were sent to the expected conference guests, apprising them of the situation and providing them with directions to Mountain View Road in Whitefield.

"The first 12 to 15 hours were very busy, and I'd say it was the most organized train wreak imaginable, with everyone quickly getting into triage mode," Mr. Clemmer said. "The CEO of the company that had reserved the conference space and Omni managing director Larry Magor spoke directly with one another, and they were both happy not to have to cancel the event."

Meanwhile the MVG quickly rallied its forces, according to Mr. Diego and sales director Lisa Tetreault who both pointed out that the first guests began to arrive only about 30 minutes after the arrangements were made final. On the first night, conference attendees occupied 53 rooms and on the second, 135 of the hotel's 145 rooms.

Back at the Mount Washington where the sprinkler system was temporarily ineffective, Carroll Fire Chief Jeff Duncan, spent Tuesday night on fire watch at the hotel itself, spokesman Clemmer explained.

By 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday subcontractors had a temporary fix in place, and water service was restored the following day.

By 1 a.m. on Wednesday, the water storage supply was completely replenished, and the hotel's life safety system fully charged.

As soon as these conditions were met, Fire Chief Duncan gave the okay for the hotel to be re-occupied.

By 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, the state of New Hampshire gave the all-clear signal that the water met its standards of quality. Testing water to see if there is any bacterial contamination takes 24 hours.

By Friday night, May 14, the Grande Dame was once again humming along and only a dozen rooms of its 200 guest rooms were unoccupied. On Saturday night every room was occupied.

Community Day in which residents devote a Saturday to cleaning up the verges along Route 302 went off without a hitch, Mr. Clemmer reported, and the hotel and its operations were back to normal.

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