Lakeside hot spot celebrates 75 years
Laconia, N.H., June 11–20—I’ve traveled to Laconia every year for the last decade or so, and I’ve ridden past the NASWA Resort numerous times. The resort parking lots are always filled with bikes, which to me is an indication that something fun is happening there. This year, I finally had an opportunity to stay there during Motorcycle Week, and after having availed myself of the Makris family’s hospitality, I doubt I’ll be satisfied staying anywhere else.
In 1935, Greek immigrants Jim and Fannie Salta were vacationing at Weirs Beach in Laconia, New Hampshire, and discovered a natural spring on a hillside along the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, just a few hundred yards from the intersection of Weirs Boulevard and the Weirs Channel Bridge. The Saltas had the water tested and found that it was clean and pure, so they purchased some property around the spring and founded the Natural Spring and Water Company. Soon the couple built some cottages and named them the NASWA Spring Water Cabins.
Over the years, Jim and Fannie added more cabins, a restaurant and other amenities, and changed the name to the NASWA Motor Inn to attract vacationing families. As the popularity of Weirs Beach as a tourist attraction continued to grow, more features were added to the inn and the name was changed once again to the NASWA Resort, letting travelers know that it was a full-fledged, self-contained vacation establishment, complete with 83 rooms, suites and cottages, a restaurant and bar, gift shop, 1,000 feet of sandy beach and boat slips for guests and visitors.
Peter Makris joined the family when he married Jim and Fannie’s daughter Hope, and eventually Peter and Hope became the second generation to operate the NASWA. Hope is still the owner, since Peter passed away in 2007, and now the third generation has taken over day-to-day operations. Peter and Hope’s daughters Cynthia, Karen and Victoria were raised at the resort, and now they each have a hand in running the business. Son-in-law Jim is also involved in the NASWA’s operations, and now Karen and Jim’s daughters, the fourth-generation women, work at the resort.
When I arrived on Friday, I was assigned a beachside room in the main hotel, and when I stepped out onto the private balcony, I was met with a great view of the lake, the pier where several pleasure boats were docked, and the resort’s beach lined with a long row of chaise lounges. Just to the right were the tents and tables of the NAZBar Beach Bar & Grill.
Although I would have loved to linger on my balcony, decompressing from my ride to Laconia, my stomach reminded me that I needed a good meal after spending all day on the road, so I walked up the steps to the resort’s restaurant. The adjoining bar looked pretty inviting, but instead I chose a table in the dining room overlooking the lake, sparkling prettily in the sunset.
The restaurant offers Continental fare, and my dinner was fabulous, as were the other meals I enjoyed there. Although I was full from the oversized serving, I couldn’t resist ordering dessert. After all, each confection is still hand-made by Yia Yia [grandmother in Greek] Hope. I’ve never had Key Lime pie that good, this far north of the Florida Keys.
After dinner, I took the five-minute stroll to Weirs Beach, and herein lies one of the greatest attractions of the NASWA. Guests staying at the resort can leave their bikes parked in the lot nearest to their room and walk to the epicenter of Laconia Motorcycle Week.
Many of the guests I spoke with had been staying at the NASWA for years, and wouldn’t even consider staying anywhere else. With all the amenities and the staff treating us like part of the family, it’s easy to see why the resort was recommended as “Editors’ Choice” by Yankee Magazine’s 2009 annual Travel Guide to New England, along with being featured on several television shows. In fact, because of the NASWA’s sterling reputation for hospitality and their contribution to the community, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch has proclaimed June 29 as NASWA Day in recognition of the resort’s 75th anniversary this year.
I’ve been contemplating a tour of the White Mountains at summer’s end, and I can’t think of a better home base than the NASWA. But don’t take my word for it—stop by the NASWA on your next trip to New Hampshire’s Lakes Region and find out for yourself. (www.naswa.com)