Visitors to Meredith know there is a lot to do in the town, from boating to dining out to shopping to enjoying live theatre. There also are many lodging establishments and most are located in the heart of the downtown area within the Mill Falls complex. Gail Batstone oversees much of the daily business of the Inns and Spa at Mill Falls. It is a year-round, intensely detailed and busy job, but one that Gail loves.
1. How long have you lived in New Hampshire and what brought you here?
“I moved to New Hampshire from the South Shore of Boston in 1985 and I never looked back! As is typical of many folks, my family vacationed in the Lakes Region for as long as I can remember. My dad built an A-frame cottage on Sawyer Lake in Gilmanton long before I was born and this was our home-away-from-home. We spent every weekend, no matter the season, and many weeks during the summer, on the lake. There were no trips to Disney or overseas — our time as a family in New Hampshire was all we needed!”
2. What is your background? How did you become an innkeeper and general manager of the Inns and Spa at Mill Falls?
“After graduating from school, I lived in the city (Quincy, South Boston), for five years, enjoying city life. I wanted to be a nurse, but when I decided a career in nursing was not something I cared to further pursue, I packed up and headed to my favorite respite location in New Hampshire.”
3. How did you get interested in the hospitality industry?
“Not long after arriving in the Lakes Region, I opted to put my desire to care for others into the hospitality business. There are many similarities between hospitality and the nursing field and I was sure I had finally found my true passion, which I had. In the hospitality field, I could care for others, make them comfortable, and provide them with an unforgettable experience, much in the same way that someone in the medical field would help a patient. However, this was much more fun!”
4. Where did you start out in hospitality in the area?
“I began at the Margate Resort in Laconia as an administrative assistant in the sales office and quickly found I had the ‘bug’ for hospitality. I stayed on with them for 12 years before becoming acquainted with Rusty McLear and his partners at Hampshire Hospitality Holdings (d/b/a Mill Falls at the Lake).”
5. And that led to your becoming an employee at Mill Falls?
“Yes. Rusty was kind enough and trusting enough to allow me to develop in the field, in many different departments, and elevated me to general manager in 2000. I know that hospitality is what I was meant to do professionally. I had the honor of working with two companies who took a chance on me, as I was not formally trained in this arena.”
6. What do you do in your free time to unwind?
“Most recently, I have adopted a heavy yoga practice into my life. And again, as luck/karma would have it, we have entered into a seamless relationship with Sacred Waters Yoga Studio and now offer classes to the public and our inn’s guests.”
7. What drew you to the Lakes Region and what keeps you here?
“What brought me to the area was the beauty of the region; what has kept me here all these years is the great community and its people.”
8. Where do guests come from that stay at the Mill Falls inns?
“The majority of our inn guests are visiting us from a ‘drive’ location, New England in particular. Most come here from the Metro Boston area, with southern New Hampshire following a close second. Because of the number of destination weddings and meetings we host each year, our visitor numbers are diversified all over the U.S. and beyond. In the past 10 years, we have also seen a dramatic rise in international travelers from the U.K., Germany, and the emerging Japanese market.”
9. Where do you think the Lakes Region will be in the future, say, 10 years from now?
“I anticipate and hope that the Lakes Region will remain (primarily) unchanged over the next 10 years. Our community is special, our surroundings spectacular, and that is the essence of what people love about our region. With that said, I do hope to see the resurgence of our downtown communities. So many are suffering and so much work is needed to bring back this vibrant part of our towns’ main streets. There is a great deal of collaboration going on throughout our communities and I hope this will continue.”
10. Is there anything new at any of the Mill Falls properties or shops or restaurants this year?
“Our newest additions have been the Sacred Waters Yoga and Healing Studio that opened in February of 2013 and, of course, the new Lodges at Church Landing which opened in June of 2012. (The Lodges offer lake view guest suites.) We also added a new outdoor restaurant, called the Boathouse Patio, which overlooks Meredith Bay and is a hidden gem for anyone looking to have a light meal and a cocktail in a stunning setting. In 2014, we are increasing the size and changing the look of the Cascade Spa. We are in the development phase at this time and renovation will begin in January. Once finished in the spring of 2014, we will continue to offer services, intimate surroundings, and cutting-edge modalities, all in a brand new and more comfortable spa environment. We couldn’t be more excited!”
11. What plans are in your future?
“I’m thrilled to call the Lakes Region my home, and other than occasional getaways, this will always be my home. My plans (a/k/a bucket list) include taking more trips (Galapagos, China, and India to name a few) and carving out more time to stop and smell the roses … if someone can figure out how that is done, could they let me know?”