There is a sea-glass-hued retreat perched on the edge of Lake Winnipesaukee. The Naswa Resort’s brightly-colored cabins and warm stretch of private beach have invited visitors from across the nation for 78 years.
In 1935, Cynthia Makris’s grandfather bought a natural spring off the lake and began bottling water. People would travel from Boston and New York by train to experience and drink from the natural fresh springs.
“The people traveling to the springs needed a place to stay, so my grandfather decided to build cabins across the street from the lake,” says Makris, “Lakefront wasn’t such a big deal in those days. Across the street was just fine for them.”
By 1936, the family had nine cabins to host their visitors, and thus a family business in hospitality was born. The name comes from the resort’s roots in natural spring water, taking the first bit of each of those words to create “Naswa” (NAtural Spring WAter).
Passing the torch
In 1950, Makris’s mother, Hope, had married and returned with her husband, Peter, to run the resort. The family had been buying up lakefront property over the years and they built the 30-room beachfront motel that now houses the resort’s restaurant, The Blue Bistro.
The entire philosophy behind the Naswa Resort and The Blue Bistro is the tradition of familial hospitality. In its third generation of family ownership, some things have stood the test of time.
“My father used to take the house guests on a morning boat ride around the lake every day,” says Makris of the complimentary boat rides.
She admits that it has been difficult to remain an independent resort and restaurant for the better part of a century. They have had to “change and evolve” with the times, she says. Some of those changes seem obvious as technology and the world develop. The owners keep in contact with their guests year round—although Naswa is only open May through October— via their Facebook page. They post pictures from the previous summer, and the change of the seasons on the lakefront, as well as post trivia and history of the resort.
The balance of tradition and change is evident as well in the kitchens at The Blue Bistro and the beachside restaurant, NazBar.
Makris’s mother is 88 and still actively involved in the resort. In fact, she bakes daily, making all the desserts for the restaurants! She’s well known around the resort, and does her own radio ads, inviting listeners to come try her “Hope-made” treats.
Reinvent and reinvigorate
Each summer, the chef returns to Lake Winnipesaukee from Boston and together, he and Makris rework the menus. It’s something that Naswas Facebook fans ask about. They’re constantly curious about the new menu items for the upcoming season.
The restaurant used to have an Italian and Mediterranean influence, but when it was re-branded to become The Blue Bistro, they decided to go in an entirely new direction for their menu as well. They turned to a lighter more organic feel. Makris cited the quinoa pilaf and the scallop sliders among some of the most popular items on the 2012 season menu.
“You keep your guests intrigued,” says Makris of their ever-changing menu, “We really want to try new things. Our guests have come to expect it.”
It reflects a more modern feel that the resort has taken, while still feeling like Naswa that guests have known for decades. It’s a balance that the family has worked very hard to preserve.
All for one
The resort and restaurant have a thriving relationship and are almost inseparable in the minds of those who know Naswa. To Makris, the business is simply hospitality and the relationship they create with their guests lasts for generations.
“I think it’s incredibly cool that people have such a connection with Naswa, for them to keep returning generation after generation,” she says.
While preparing for their 78th season in 2013, Naswa looks forward to continuing the art of hospitality and helping families create lasting memories.
The Naswa Resort
1086 Weirs Boulevard
Laconia, NH 03246