Inns at Mill Falls: A vision realized

As a child growing up in Rhode Island, Paul Cole used to spend his summers vacationing in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Like many kids who enjoyed long hours in the car with their family on vacation, he spent a lot of time looking out the window watching the small towns of New Hampshire roll by. When he would get home, he says he would always describe the town of Meredith as “the place you took a right-hand turn at to go to the mountains.”He laughs a little when telling this story, because he has spent the last 25 years of his life in the Lakes Region, working for developer and hotelier Rusty McLear and helping to create the focal point of Meredith’s revitalization — The Inns and Spa at Mill Falls.On July 4, the original complex, the Mill Falls Inn and Marketplace, will celebrate the 25th anniversary of both its grand opening as well as the start of the town’s evolution from a right-hand turn into a premier tourist and hospitality destination.“When we started, we had the Marketplace, and the Inn came on about a year later, now we have Bay Point, Chase House, Church Landing, the spa and a number of restaurants all within walking distance of one another, and all of which have helped make Meredith a true destination,” says Cole, special projects manager of the Inns at Mill Falls.Today, the Inns at Mills Falls properties include four inns — Mill Falls, Bay Point, Chase House and Church Landing — seven restaurants as well as the Mill Falls Marketplace, the Cascade Spa and Meredith Gas Station. They employ some 325 people, and the inns are the largest taxpayer in the community, and annually produce tens of millions of dollars in tourism revenue and rooms and meals taxes.McLear credits the success of the original inn and the surrounding properties that have been added over the years to the dedication of staff like Cole and many longtime guests, who have returned every year since they first opened.He also says when you look back at the 1982 master plan developed by the town, what many thought was an ambitious dream has become an impressive reality.“When we started, this area was surrounded by crumbling mill buildings, so it was difficult to envision, but if you dust it off and look at the master plan developed by the town in the early ‘80s you can see we created a road map for what the inns and the town has become,” says McLear. “I think it is a testament to the residents and town officials of Meredith as well as our employees that we remained true to that vision and created not only an economic engine for the region, but a responsibly developed area that complements the beauty of the Lakes Region.”